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Paul Mazursky

Paul Mazursky

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Also Known As: Carlotta Gerson, Irwin Mazursky Died:
Born: April 25, 1930 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: screenwriter, director, producer, actor, waiter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An independent filmmaker and often onscreen performer frequently compared with fellow New Yorker Woody Allen, Paul Mazursky spent years in show business developing an acting career and a reputation as a writer before finally directing his own screenplays. After making his feature debut as an actor in Stanley Kubrick's "Fear and Desire" (1953), Mazursky went on to write for "The Danny Kaye Show" (CBS, 1963-67) while also penning the pilot episode for "The Monkees" (NBC, 1966-68). Though denied his feature directorial debut by star Peter Sellers with his script for "I Love You Alice B. Toklas" (1968), he was finally able to helm his first movie with "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" (1969), a once-controversial, but now tame by comparison look at loose sexual mores in the "free love" era. He went on to direct several fine movies in the following decade, including "Blume in Love" (1973) and "Harry and Tonto" (1974), before having one of his biggest hits with the feminist-themed "An Unmarried Woman" (1978). Mazursky continued to charm audiences with "Moscow on the Hudson" (1984) while having perhaps his greatest box office success with "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" (1986). Following an atypical...

An independent filmmaker and often onscreen performer frequently compared with fellow New Yorker Woody Allen, Paul Mazursky spent years in show business developing an acting career and a reputation as a writer before finally directing his own screenplays. After making his feature debut as an actor in Stanley Kubrick's "Fear and Desire" (1953), Mazursky went on to write for "The Danny Kaye Show" (CBS, 1963-67) while also penning the pilot episode for "The Monkees" (NBC, 1966-68). Though denied his feature directorial debut by star Peter Sellers with his script for "I Love You Alice B. Toklas" (1968), he was finally able to helm his first movie with "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" (1969), a once-controversial, but now tame by comparison look at loose sexual mores in the "free love" era. He went on to direct several fine movies in the following decade, including "Blume in Love" (1973) and "Harry and Tonto" (1974), before having one of his biggest hits with the feminist-themed "An Unmarried Woman" (1978). Mazursky continued to charm audiences with "Moscow on the Hudson" (1984) while having perhaps his greatest box office success with "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" (1986). Following an atypical effort with the tragic-comic "Enemies: A Love Story" (1989), Mazursky began to stumble as a director with "Scenes from a Mall" (1991) and "The Pickle" (1993). While leaving feature directing largely behind, Mazursky made acting appearances in several movies and on television shows, while making clear as the years passed that he had left the director's chair for good. Paul Mazursky died in Los Angeles on June 30, 2014 at the age of 84.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Coast to Coast (2004) Director
3.
  Winchell (1998) Director
4.
  Faithful (1995) Director
5.
  Pickle, The (1993) Director
6.
  Scenes From a Mall (1991) Director
7.
  Enemies, A Love Story (1989) Director
8.
  Moon Over Parador (1988) Director
9.
10.
  Moscow on the Hudson (1984) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Casting By (2013)
2.
 Casting By (2013)
3.
 Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
5.
6.
9.
 Coast to Coast (2004) Stanley Tarlo
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1950:
Landed the leading role in a college revival of Leonid Andreyev's "He Who Gets Slapped" while a senior at Brooklyn College; play transferred for a time Off-Broadway to the Master Institute Theatre where the scenarist Howard Sackler saw him and introduced him to Stanley Kubrick
1951:
Changed first name from Irwin to Paul while acting in his first movie on location in California's San Gabriel Mountains
1953:
Film acting debut in Kubrick's "Fear and Desire"
1953:
Worked in summer stock on Cape Cod, playing Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman", Sorin in "The Seagull" and Undershaft in "Major Barbara"
1954:
Was briefly in Hollywood before returning to NYC; began acting in live TV shows
1955:
Played a juvenile delinquent and pal to big bully Vic Morrow in Richard Brooks' "Blackboard Jungle"
1956:
Had a small success in Off-Broadway revue "Shoestring '57"
:
Worked as a stand-up comedian with comic Herb Hartig in an act billed as "Igor and H"
1957:
Acted in and directed revue and nightclub acts in Greenwich Village, San Francisco and Chicago
1959:
Moved to Los Angeles with writing partner Larry Tucker; joined Second City Improvisational Revue; appeared on episodes of "The Twilight Zone" (CBS)
:
Was a staff writer (with Larry Tucker) for "The Danny Kaye Show" (CBS)
1966:
With Tucker, wrote the pilot for "The Monkees" (NBC)
1966:
Acted in Morrow's "Deathwatch", film version of Jean Genet play; Morrow co-scripted (with his wife Barbara Turner) and co-produced with Leonard Nimoy, who also acted
1968:
Debut as executive producer and as screenwriter (with Larry Tucker), "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas" (also played a bit part), Hollywood's first send-up of hippie culture; began his long association with production designer Pato Guzman
1969:
Feature directorial debut, "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice"; also co-wrote with Tucker and played a bit part; received first Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay; film partly inspired by Mazursky's experiences with an Esalen encounter group
1970:
Reteamed with Tucker on script of "Alex in Wonderland"; also directed; daughter Meg played Alex's (Donald Sutherland) daughter
1973:
Produced first film that he also directed, "Blume in Love"; also played Blume's uptight law partner; first solo film script
1974:
Produced, directed, scripted (with Josh Greenfield) and played a gay man in "Harry and Tonto"; garnered second Oscar nod for Best Screenplay; Art Carney took home the Best Actor Oscar
1976:
Chronicled his own move from Brooklyn to NYC during the early 1950s in "Next Stop, Greenwich Village"
1978:
Delivered tour de force vehicle for Jill Clayburgh, "An Unmarried Woman", writing, directing and producing (with Tony Ray), as well as acting in it; film earned him two Oscar nominations, one for Best Picture and another for his screenplay
1982:
First film with Guzman as co-producer as well as production designer, "Tempest"; also first collaboration with screenwriter Leon Capetanos
1984:
Co-scripted (with Capetanos), directed, produced and acted in "Moscow on the Hudson"; provided a breakthrough screen role for star Robin Williams
1986:
Scored box office hit with "Down and Out in Beverly Hills", a remake of Jean Renoir's "Boudu Saved From Drowning"; starred Nick Nolte, Richard Dreyfuss and Bette Midler
1988:
Credited as Carlotta Gerson for his role as Momma in "Moon Over Parador", which he produced, directed and co-wrote with Capetanos (their fourth consecutive collaboration); second film with Dreyfuss
1989:
With Roger L Simon, co-wrote "Enemies: A Love Story", based on the novel by Isaac Bashevis Singer; received Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay
1990:
Executive produced "Taking Care of Business", directed by Arthur Hiller (only the second film he has produced and not directed); screenplay written by his daughter Jill
1991:
12th and last collaboration with Guzman, "Scenes from a Mall", starring Woody Allen and Midler; co-written with Simon; Mazursky dedicated the film to his long-time friend Guzman, who died prior to film's opening
1993:
Helmed the disappointing feature, "The Pickle"
1996:
Last feature (to date) as director, "Faithful"; co-produced by Robert De Niro; marked first time he had helmed a screenplay which he had not written
1996:
Acted in "2 Days in the Valley", which reunited him with Marsha Mason from "Blume in Love" and Danny Aiello from "The Pickle"
1998:
Provided the voice of the psychologist in the animated feature "Antz"
1998:
Helmed HBO's acclaimed "Winchell", which earned Stanley Tucci an Emmy in the title role
1999:
Acted in TNT's "A Slight Case of Murder", a black comedy starring William H Macy and Adam Arkin
1999:
Played recurring role as Sela Ward's father on "Once and Again" (ABC)
2000:
Had a small part as 'Sunshine,' the poker dealer, on HBO's popular series "The Sopranos"
2004:
Appeared in five episodes of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" as Norm, one of Mel Brooks' associates
2006:
Appeared in Jeff Garlin's feature directing debut, "I Want Someone to Eat Cheese with"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of California at Los Angeles: Los Angeles , California -
Thomas Jefferson High School: Brooklyn , New York - 1947
Brooklyn College: Brooklyn , New York - 1951

Notes

Mazursky's psychiatrist Donald F. Muhich has acted in four films by the director, playing (what else?) a psychiatrist of one kind or another.

Though the setting for "Scenes from a Mall" was supposedly the Beverly Center in California, Mazursky actually filmed in a Stanford, Connecticut mall designed by the Beverly Center's architect in order to use the notoriously West Coast-shy Woody Allen. Allen did spend three days in Los Angeles shooting the opening scenes in the Hollywood Hills and one shot where he and Bette Midler drive up to the Beverly Center. That architect also designed a lavish two-story Beverly Center replica at the Kaufman-Astoria Studios in Queens for the filmmaker's use.

About working with the dog in "Down and Out in Beverly Hills": "The trainer, Clint, came in with this Mike the dog. And I knew right away that Clint was different, because he talked to the dog as if it were his friend. 'Mikey, do you want to show Paul that?' And Mikey would go, 'mm-hmm,' and he would do it . . . I met with Clint the way I'd meet with an actor or an actress, and discussed the motivation for Mike's stuff. He made me do it. So I would say, 'Well, when they rescue the bum and put him down in the chaise lounge, I want the dog to go crazy.' And he'd say, 'Yeah, but when they pull him out, he wouldn't lick him right away.' I said, 'Why not?' and he'd say, 'Mikey just wouldn't do that.'"

"Mike the dog went to the Deuville film festival with me, and we flew on the same plane, first class. I'm there with my wife and kids, and I've got 'Down and Out in Beverly Hills' there, so I'm the star of the festival. And they give me the crappiest room I have ever seen. I mean, a tiny, junk room. So I call down and say, 'I'm not going to stay in this room.' They say, 'What room?' I say, '234.' 'No, no, that's the dog's room.' So I go up to 434, and I see the dog in a huge suite, lying in the bed. And I say, 'Mikey, you're out.' That's a true story." --Paul Mazursky, quoted in American Film, January 1990.

"I based the mother in my film 'Alex in Wonderland' on my mom. I didn't want her to be surprised, so I showed her the script. My mother said, 'So, who's going to play me?' When I said, 'I don't know,' she wanted to do it.

"I said, 'Mom, you'll have to audition.' She did, and she was so bad, I turned her down. Then I told her I'd cast an actress named Viola Spolin to play the part, and Mom said, 'So, you couldn't pick Bette Davis? When this film comes to New York, I think I'm gonna picket it.' And she wasn't kidding. I had to beg her not to.

"My mother was a very intense and difficult woman. I loved her but I didn't always like her. I remember when my movie 'Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" played at the New York Film Festival, she said, 'Big deal. I guess you think you're a big shot now.' I swear she said that."

"It was my mother who was the real influence in my life. She freed me to dream big dreams even though she was a very neurotic woman. For some bizarre reason, maybe because she wanted to escape, she loved opera and she used to take me.

"She'd also take me to see foreign films, and we'd go to Harlem to the Amateur Hour, where I watched the greats like Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway and Count Basie.

"In fact, my mother even let me play hooky to see movies. She'd say, 'Come on, there's a double feature. You can skip school today.'" --Paul Mazursky to Jeanne Wolf in Daily News, September 22, 1996.

"I can't talk about Brooklyn now, but Brooklyn then, in the '30s and '40s was like an earthly paradise. There was an electric excitement in the streets. You learned about life by your wits, and it never leaves you. You're tougher, shrewder, and it teaches you humor and irony. But leaving Brooklyn for Manhattan in the early '50s was just as big a trip for me as going to Paris.

"It was 1952, and I took an apartment at 205 W. 10th St. and it was a completely different universe than Bergen St. in Brownsville. I'd walk down the street to the White Horse Tavern and, 'Who's this Welshman spouting poetry? My God, it's Dylan Thomas!' And you'd see Allen Ginsberg walking around the street. It cracked open my life." --Mazursky, quoted in Daily News, June 13, 1999.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Betsy Mazursky. Married March 12, 1953; has acted in six of husband's movies, beginning with "Tempest" (1982).

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Jean Mazursky. Played piano part-time for a dancing school.
father:
David Mazursky. Laborer. Worked for the WPA and later for a newspaper company.
daughter:
Meg Mazursky. Has appeared in father's movies.
daughter:
Jill Mazursky. Screenwriter.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Show Me the Magic" Simon & Schuster

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