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Robert Mulligan

Robert Mulligan

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Also Known As: Died: December 19, 2008
Born: August 23, 1925 Cause of Death: heart disease
Birth Place: Bronx, New York, USA Profession: director, producer, copyboy, radio operator, messenger

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Critically-neglected for his lack of a consistent, visual style in an era that prizes an auteur's distinctive stamp, Robert Mulligan allowed his stories to dictate their look, so there is nothing about the black-and-white measured pictorialism of arguably his greatest film, "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962), that would indicate he was the same man responsible for "Summer of '42" (1971), its pastel prettiness evoking the nostalgia of memory. The former divinity student started as a messenger at CBS and rose through the ranks, establishing himself during the 1950s helming fare for that network's "Playhouse 90," "Suspense" and "TV Playhouse," among other series. Noted for his deft handling of actors, Mulligan graduated to features with "Fear Strikes Out" (1957), an absorbing account of the personal problems which led baseball star Jim Piersall (Anthony Perkins) to a nervous breakdown. Before directing another film, he would helm two highly-acclaimed TV projects, "Member of the Wedding" (CBS, 1958) and "The Moon and Sixpence" (NBC, 1959), winning an Emmy for the latter.Mulligan is not a director without through lines in his work. Beginning with Piersall, outsiders have fascinated him, and he has returned to...

Critically-neglected for his lack of a consistent, visual style in an era that prizes an auteur's distinctive stamp, Robert Mulligan allowed his stories to dictate their look, so there is nothing about the black-and-white measured pictorialism of arguably his greatest film, "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962), that would indicate he was the same man responsible for "Summer of '42" (1971), its pastel prettiness evoking the nostalgia of memory. The former divinity student started as a messenger at CBS and rose through the ranks, establishing himself during the 1950s helming fare for that network's "Playhouse 90," "Suspense" and "TV Playhouse," among other series. Noted for his deft handling of actors, Mulligan graduated to features with "Fear Strikes Out" (1957), an absorbing account of the personal problems which led baseball star Jim Piersall (Anthony Perkins) to a nervous breakdown. Before directing another film, he would helm two highly-acclaimed TV projects, "Member of the Wedding" (CBS, 1958) and "The Moon and Sixpence" (NBC, 1959), winning an Emmy for the latter.

Mulligan is not a director without through lines in his work. Beginning with Piersall, outsiders have fascinated him, and he has returned to that theme again and again: the enlightened attorney (Academy Award-winning Gregory Peck) at odds with the bigoted community of "Mockingbird"; the ex-convict (Steve McQueen) in "Baby the Rain Must Fall" (1965), trying to adjust to life outside the penitentiary; the real-life character of Ferdinand Demara (Tony Curtis) in "The Great Impostor" (1960), gaining entrance to normally off-limit situations through his skillful impersonations. Then there is his extraordinary insight into the world of the child or adolescent. Who can forget Scout, the little girl through whose eyes the audience sees her small town's racism in "Mockingbird"? He has given us the lost and jaded students of "Up the Down Staircase" (1967), the pubescent boys who learn about sex and morality in "Summer of '42," the irrevocably evil child of "The Other" (1972) and the tomboy coming of age in "The Man in the Moon" (1991).

His collaboration with producer Alan J Pakula yielded some of his best work, particularly the enduring "Mockingbird," which continues to please audiences whether they are viewing it for the first or fifth time. After their partnership ended, Mulligan proved himself with such other successes as "Summer of '42" and "The Other," a gothic chiller adapted from the novel by Tom Tryon, but missed with much of his later work like "Kiss Me Goodbye" (1982), a reworking of the Brazilian film "Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands," and "Clara's Heart" (1988), which explored the relationship between a Jamaican nanny (Whoopi Goldberg) and her young, impressionable charge (Neil Patrick Harris). He rebounded with his last feature (to date), "The Man in the Moon," an old-fashioned weepie set in the rural Louisiana of 1957, featuring newcomer Reese Witherspoon as a 14-year-old in love with an older boy, who in turn prefers her college-bound sister. Mulligan showed he had not lost his touch for drawing compelling performances from adolescent actors.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Man in the Moon, The (1991) Director
2.
  Clara's Heart (1988) Director
3.
  Kiss Me Goodbye (1982) Director
4.
  Same Time, Next Year (1978) Director
5.
  Bloodbrothers (1978) Director
6.
  Nickel Ride, The (1975) Director
7.
  The Other (1972) Director
8.
9.
  Summer of '42 (1971) Director
10.
  The Stalking Moon (1968) Director

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Summer of '42 (1971) Adult Hermie, narrator
3.
 Natalie Wood (1987) Interviewee
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Milestones close milestones

:
Served as a US Marine radio operator during WWII
:
Worked in editorial department of THE NEW YORK TIMES during the late 1940s
:
Began working as a messenger for CBS-TV
:
Directed episodes of such CBS series as "Suspense", "TV Playhouse", and "Playhouse 90"
1955:
Helmed segments of NBC's "The Alcoa Hour"
1956:
Directed "Victor Borge's Comedy in Music (I and II)" (both for CBS)
1957:
Feature film debut as director, "Fear Strikes Out"
1958:
Broadway directing debut, "Comes a Day", starring Judith Anderson
1958:
Produced and directed the CBS telecast of "The Member of the Wedding", adapted from the novel by Carson McCullers
1959:
Won an Emmy for directing NBC's "The Moon and Sixpence", based on the Somerset Maugham novel, starring Anderson and Laurence Olivier; also produced
1962:
With Alan J Pakula, founded Pakula-Mulligan Productions
1962:
Received Oscar nomination as Best Director for "To Kill a Mockingbird"; first Pakula-Mulligan feature
1965:
First feature credit as producer (with Pakula), "Inside Daisy Clover", an underrated Hollywood expose starring Natalie Wood and Robert Redford; also directed
1969:
Dissolved Pakula-Mulligan Productions
1971:
Narrated and directed "Summer of '42"
1972:
Directed and produced "The Other"
1979:
Co-produced and directed "Same Time, Next Year", based on Bernard Slade's two-character Broadway play
1991:
Last feature (to date) as director, "Man in the Moon"
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Education

Fordham University: New York , New York -
Fordham University: New York , New York -

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Jane Lee Sutherland. Actor. Married in 1952.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Robert Edward Mulligan. Policeman.
mother:
Elizabeth Mulligan.
brother:
Richard Mulligan. Actor. Born in November 1932; starred in the sitcoms "Soap" and "Empty Nest"; died in September 2000.
brother:
James Mulligan.
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