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Norman Wexler

Norman Wexler

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Also Known As: Died: August 23, 1999
Born: Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: New Bedford, Massachusetts, USA Profession: screenwriter, playwright, worked in advertising

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

While his output as a screenwriter was hardly prolific (due in part to his struggle with manic depression), Norman Wexler contributed to a handful of films that provided strong roles for leading men and have come to be considered by some critics as "modern classics" from the 1970s. The New England native, who marked time working in advertising in the 1950s and 60s while writing plays, struck pay dirt with his first produced effort, "Joe" (1970), a dark look at bigotry and violence that showcased the talents of Peter Boyle in the title role. While some found the plot a bit contrived (a button-downed type commits a murder and confesses it to a stranger with whom he forms an unlikely friendship), others were impressed with its spleen-venting attack on small-mindedness. Wexler earned an Oscar nod for his script and his Hollywood career took off in earnest. He shared writing duties on "Serpico" (1973) with Waldo Salt and the pair were rewarded with an Academy Award nomination for their superb adaptation of Peter Maas' nonfiction look at an undercover cop exposing corruption within the ranks of the NYPD. Finely realized by Sidney Lumet, the film also provided actor Al Pacino with a tour de force role, one...

While his output as a screenwriter was hardly prolific (due in part to his struggle with manic depression), Norman Wexler contributed to a handful of films that provided strong roles for leading men and have come to be considered by some critics as "modern classics" from the 1970s. The New England native, who marked time working in advertising in the 1950s and 60s while writing plays, struck pay dirt with his first produced effort, "Joe" (1970), a dark look at bigotry and violence that showcased the talents of Peter Boyle in the title role. While some found the plot a bit contrived (a button-downed type commits a murder and confesses it to a stranger with whom he forms an unlikely friendship), others were impressed with its spleen-venting attack on small-mindedness. Wexler earned an Oscar nod for his script and his Hollywood career took off in earnest. He shared writing duties on "Serpico" (1973) with Waldo Salt and the pair were rewarded with an Academy Award nomination for their superb adaptation of Peter Maas' nonfiction look at an undercover cop exposing corruption within the ranks of the NYPD. Finely realized by Sidney Lumet, the film also provided actor Al Pacino with a tour de force role, one of the best in his career.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Detroit, Michigan
1951:
Moved to NYC
:
Worked in advertising while writing plays, several of which were staged in NYC and at regional theaters
:
Moved to Hollywood
1970:
First produced script, "Joe", starring Peter Boyle; received first Academy Award nomination
1972:
Arrested and jailed for making threats against then President Richard M Nixon
1973:
With Waldo Salt, received credit for screenplay adaptation of "Serpico"; garnered second Oscar nomination
:
Wrote the overheated "Mandigo" (1975) and its sequel "Drum" (1976)
1977:
Rebounded with the screenplay of "Saturday Night Fever"
1983:
Scripted "Stayin' Alive", a sequel to "Saturday Night Fever"; also served as assistant director; director Sylvester Stallone "improved" on the script and received credit as co-author
1986:
Final produced screenplay "Raw Deal", starring Arnold Schwarzenneger
1996:
Play "Forgive Me, Forgive Me Not" staged in L.A.
1997:
Moved to Washington, DC
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Education

Harvard University: Cambridge , Massachusetts - 1948

Notes

A stage version of "Saturday Night Fever" with a book by Nan Knighton based on Wexler's screenplay opened in London in 1998 and on Broadway in 1999.

"Based on the hugely popular bestseller, "Mandingo" turned out to be a trash masterpiece. Its fierce condemnation of slavery and its unsparing depiction of the degradation it might inflict upon master as well as slave is but an excuse to project the most salacious miscegenation-inspired sex fantasies ever seen this side of an X rating. It is also, mercifully, hilarious in its sheer excessiveness." --From LOS ANGELES TIMES, August 26, 1999

Family close complete family listing

daughter:
Erica Wexler. Survived him.
daughter:
Merin Wexler. Survived him.

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