When long gestating pictures finally make it to the big screen, we're often left wondering what discarded versions of these projects we didn't end up seeing. One such example would be writer Robert Schenkkan's 1999 screenplay about the life of Olympian and World War II hero Louis Zamperini, which served as an early draft for what would eventually become Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken" (2014). Although his take on the Zamperini story never made it to screen, Schenkkan's legacy as a playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor would hardly be marred by the ordeal. Robert Frederic Schenkkan, Jr. was born on March 19, 1953, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, but grew up in Austin, Texas. Schenkkan inherited from his father, a television executive and University of Texas at Austin Radio-Television-Film professor, an early interest in show business. He'd go on to achieve a Bachelor's degree in drama from his father's aforementioned Austin college, followed by a Master's in Theater Arts from Cornell University in New York. Schenkkan's degrees translated to the pursuit of creative success both as a writer and an actor. He broke ground on a playwriting career with the "G. R. Point" (1979), and kicked off his tenure in front of the camera with roles on television series like "Santa Barbara" (NBC 1984-1993) and in films like "Out Cold" (1989). Despite an acting career that amounted to numerous supporting roles over two decades, Schenkhan's true claim to fame was his writing. During this time, Schenkkan penned several plays, such as "Heaven on Earth" (1989) and the Pulitzer Prize-winning magnum opus "The Kentucky Cycle" (1991). After retiring as an actor in 1994, Schenkkan had even more time to devote to his plays and, eventually, scripts. Schenkkan made his debut writing for the screen with the TV movie "Crazy Horse" (TBS 1996), a John Irvin-directed film about of the life of the famous Native American war leader. Three years later, Schenkkan would pen a script about the life of World War II hero and Olympic runner Louis Zamperini for Universal Pictures. The studio ultimately dismissed Schenkkan's draft, ultimately producing a version co-written by Joel and Ethan Coen for director Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken" (2014). Following this disappointment, Schenkkan made his first successful jump to big screen scripting with the film "The Quiet American" (2002), an adaptation of Graham Greene's novel for director Philip Noyce and star Michael Caine. Thereafter, he'd continue to work on stage productions, including "Handler" (2002), "By the Waters of Babylon" (2005), "Lewis and Clark Reach the Euphrates" (2005), "The Marriage of Miss Hollywood and King Neptune" (2005), and "The Devil and Daniel Webster" (2006), before taking his first step into series writing with "The Pacific" (HBO 2010). Schenkkan's popular breakthrough came with "All the Way" (2012), which told the story of President Lyndon B. Johnson during the Civil Rights Era, with "Breaking Bad" (AMC 2008-2013) star Bryan Cranston playing the lead role on Broadway.
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"The Kentucky Cycle" wins the Pulitzer Prize.
Adapts Graham Greene's "The Quiet American" for director Philip Noyce.
A play about President Lyndon B. Johnson, "All the Way," becomes a major Broadway success.