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Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, at 98; co-writer of 'Cheaper by the Dozen'

LOS ANGELES -- Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, who teamed up with a younger brother to write "Cheaper by the Dozen," the best-selling book that lightheartedly chronicled their life growing up in a family of 12 children in the early 20th century, has died. She was 98.

Mrs. Carey, who lived in Reedley , died Saturday at a hospital in Fresno.

"Cheaper by the Dozen," which Mrs. Carey wrote with her brother Frank Gilbreth Jr., was published in 1948. The fact-based novel about the Gilbreth brood -- six boys and six girls born over 17 years -- was praised for its gentle humor and for being an affectionate tribute to their parents.

The book has been translated into a dozen languages. It also was turned into a 1950 movie starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy. In 2003, Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt played the parents in a modernized remake, which was followed by a 2005 sequel.

Born in New York, Mrs. Carey was the third child of industrial engineers Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Lillian Moller Gilbreth.

The Gilbreths were pioneers in the field of "scientific management," collaborating on the development of motion studies and time-management techniques. Their management-consulting firm's expertise was used by major industrial plants.

"Dad always practiced what he preached, and it was just about impossible to tell where his scientific management company ended and his family life began," Mrs. Carey and her brother wrote in "Cheaper by the Dozen."

The family's large house in Montclair, N.J., "was a sort of school for scientific management and the elimination of wasted motions -- or 'motion study,' as Dad and Mother named it."

Their efficiency-expert father, for example, took movies of his children washing dishes to determine how they could reduce their motions and save time.

The elder Gilbreths installed process and work charts in the bathrooms, requiring the children to initial the charts in the morning after brushing their teeth, taking a bath, combing their hair, and making their beds.

Frank Gilbreth died of a heart attack at age 55 in 1924, the day after Mrs. Carey graduated from high school. She also graduated from Smith College.

"Belles on Their Toes," Mrs. Carey and her brother's 1950 sequel to "Cheaper by the Dozen," dealt with how their widowed mother struggled to raise her family alone and carried on the management-engineering business.

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