Lorenzo Semple Jr.


Screenwriter

Biography

Although he was responsible for the scripts of cult favorite movies such as "Papillon" (1973) and "Pretty Poison" (1968), Lorenzo Semple Jr. was best remembered as the head writer of the campy 1960s television series "Batman" (ABC 1966-68). Semple effectively retired by the 1990s, but his works remained high enough in the public consciousness that the Writers Guild of America hailed him ...

Biography

Although he was responsible for the scripts of cult favorite movies such as "Papillon" (1973) and "Pretty Poison" (1968), Lorenzo Semple Jr. was best remembered as the head writer of the campy 1960s television series "Batman" (ABC 1966-68). Semple effectively retired by the 1990s, but his works remained high enough in the public consciousness that the Writers Guild of America hailed him as a Living Legend in September 2008. Born Lorenzo Elliott Semple III on March 27, 1923 in Mount Kisco, New York, he pursued a career as a writer, much like his uncle Philip Barry, who wrote the hugely successful play (later turned into a hit film) "The Philadelphia Story." After abandoning Yale to serve in the military, Semple finished his degree at Columbia University and quickly began writing for magazines and penning his own plays. One of them, "Golden Fleecing," became a Broadway production in 1959. Semple tried to break through in television when he teamed up with producer William Dozier to come up with a new idea for a TV series. But it was not until a few years later when Dozier approached Semple to develop a television series based on the popular DC Comics character Batman. Starring Adam West as the Caped Crusader, "Batman" was a bona fide hit and quickly became part of the 1960s cultural zeitgeist. Unlike the dark, serious films that were made many years later, Semple's "Batman" was campy, satirical, and colorful. Semple used the success of "Batman" to leap into films. One of his first feature film screenplays was the spy comedy "Fathom" (1967), which starred sex symbol Raquel Welch. In the following year, Semple wrote the screenplay for "Pretty Poison," which starred Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld. Other movies he wrote the screenplay for included the Steve McQueen prison escape drama "Papillon," "The Parallax View" (1974), and the political thriller "Three Days of the Condor." In 1976, Semple penned an updated remake of the classic monster movie "King Kong," a widely-panned flop. Other comparative missteps included Sean Connery's unsanctioned return as James Bond in "Never Say Never Again" (1983) and the universally-panned "Sheena" (1984). Based on the 1930s comic book heroine, "Sheena" infamously bombed in theaters and was nominated for five Razzie Awards. In the age of online media, Semple teamed up with former agent and producer Marcia Nasatir and formed their own YouTube channel called Reel Geezers, where the two provided insightful and hilarious review of the latest movies. On March 28, 2014 Semple died of natural causes in his home at Los Angeles, California, just one day after his 91st birthday. Although he had not written a script in several decades prior to his death, Lorenzo Semple, Jr. was remembered as a fine screenwriter who shaped the images of some of entertainment's most recognizable cultural icons.

Life Events

1955

First writing credits on an episode of "The Alcoa Hour "

1959

Wrote the play "The Golden Fleecing"

1966

Screenwriting debut, "Batman"

1967

First feature film screenplay for "Fathom"

1968

Wrote the screenplay of "Pretty Poison"

1976

Wrote the screenplay of the "King Kong" remake starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange.

1980

Screenwriter of the movie adaptation of "Flash Gordon"

1983

Wrote the screenplay of "Never Say Never Again" starring Sean Connery as James Bond.

1984

Penned the screenplay of "Sheena"

Videos

Movie Clip

Super Cops, The (1974) - Instruments Of Death Opening featuring news footage of the real life heroes (David Greenberg, Robert Hantz), director Gordon Parks introduces leads Ron Leibman and David Selby taking their oath, in The Super Cops, 1974.
Papillon (1973) - No One Is Innocent En route to the penal colony in French Guyana ca. 1933, Steve McQueen (title character) introduces himself to wisecracking counterfeiter Dega (Dustin Hoffman), their first conversation, early in director Franklin Schaffner's international hit Papillon, 1973.
Papillon (1973) - You Escape, They Hunt Arriving from France, Steve McQueen (title character) and Dega (Dustin Hoffman) get their first look at Devil's Island, with comments from returning inmate Julot (Don Gordon), who takes his own desperate steps, in Papillon, 1973, from the international best-selling memoir by Henri Charriere.
Honeymoon Machine, The (1961) - All Scientists Are Poor We’ve met Jim Hutton as Navy-affiliated rocket-computer scientist Jason, and Steve McQueen as his junior officer buddy Fergie, given to games of chance, in their first scene together discussing whether their computer called Max could be useful in a Venice casino, early in The Honeymoon Machine, 1961.
Honeymoon Machine, The (1961) - Admiral's Daughters Enterprising Navy officer Fergie (Steve McQueen) ejects scientist pal Jason (Jim Hutton) from their Venice suite where they’re planning a casino scam, to be alone with Julie (Brigid Bazlen), the forward daughter of their admiral, whom they’ve just met by chance, early in MGM’s The Honeymoon Machine, 1961.
Honeymoon Machine, The (1961) - Someone's Giving You Rome? In the casino in Venice gathering roulette data for the computer-gambling scam being arranged by his Navy buddy (Steve McQueen), Jim Hutton as scientist Jason spies nearsighted knockout Pam (Paula Prentiss, in their third film together for MGM), then her ball/chain Tommy (William Lanteau) in The Honeymoon Machine, 1961.
Pretty Poison (1968) - You Don't Doubt Me? Tremendous freak out by Dennis (Anthony Perkins) at work in the lumber mill, chewed out by boss Dick O'Neill, edited by William Ziegler with images of Tuesday Weld, from director Noel Black's Pretty Poison, 1968.
Pretty Poison (1968) - Sorry, That's Classified Paroled patient Dennis (Anthony Perkins) is working his secret agent spell with plausible machismo on high schooler Sue Ann (Tuesday Weld) in an early scene from director Noel Black's Pretty Poison, 1968.
Pretty Poison (1968) - The CIA Does Cover This? Fake secret agent Dennis (Anthony Perkins) is looking to impress his high-schooler girlfriend Sue Ann (Tuesday Weld) by letting her help sabotage the lumber mill, when she unexpectedly raises the stakes, in director Noel Black's Pretty Poison, 1968.
Pretty Poison (1968) - No Place At All For Fantasies Anthony Perkins as Dennis seems a lot like Norman Bates, as he's lectured and released by counselor Azenauer (John Randolph), then goes on to observe co-star Tuesday Weld, as drill-teamer Sue-Anne, opening director Noel Black's Pretty Poison, 1968.
Pretty Poison (1968) - Lascivious Carriage Mischievous parolee Dennis (Anthony Perkins) is talking crime with short-order cook Pete (Joseph Bova) when Sue Ann (Tuesday Weld), whom he's been kind of stalking, initiates their fateful first meeting, in director Noel Black's Pretty Poison, 1968.
Pretty Poison (1968) - Ice Cold Nerves Spiky conversation between Mrs. Stepanek (Beverly Garland) and daughter Sue Ann (Tuesday Weld) when her scheme to pass date Dennis (Anthony Perkins) off as a family friend falters, in director Noel Black's Pretty Poison, 1968.

Trailer

Bibliography