Monday, December 29, 2008

Dale Wasserman and Hilary Waugh

Playwright Dale Wasserman and novelist Hilary Waugh recently passed.

Dale Wasserman, who wrote the play One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and the screenplay for The Vikings, passed on December 21 at the age of 94 from congestive heart failure.

Dale Wasserman was born in Rhinelander, Wisconsin on November 2, 1917. He was orphaned before he was ten years old and was sent to live with aunts and uncles. He worked a variety of jobs before becoming a lighting designer in the theatre and later a director. In 1955 he made his first sale to television, to the anthology series Mantinee Theatre. He would go on to write for Studio One, The Alcoa Theatre, Kraft Television Theatre, Climax, The Dupont Show of the Month. A 1959 episode he wrote for The Dupont Show of the Month, "I, Don Quixote," would provide the basis for The Man of La Mancha. Wasserman would also screenplays, one The Vikings and Quick Before It Melts, among other films.

In 1963 his first play to be acted on Broadway, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was staged. He would go onto write The Man of La Mancha.

Mystery writer Hilary Waugh passed on December 8 at the age of 88.

Hilary Waugh was born in New Haven, Connecticut on June 22, 1920. Waugh attended Yale University. Following graduation, he served in the Navy Air Corps. It was while he was in service that he started writing the mystery novel Madame Will Not Dine Tonight as a way of fighting boredom. It was published in 1947. In 1949 he read a book on true crime and decided to write a realistic crime novel. The end result was Last Seen Wearing..., now considered a pioneer in the police procedural.

Waugh would go onto write almost 50 mystery novels. Most were police procedurals. In fact, in the Sixties he spent time with homicide detective in New York City to learn even more about police work. One thing that would set Waugh's police procedurals apart from others is that they were often set in small towns and suburbs. It was in 1991 that his book Hillary Waugh’s Guide to Mysteries and Mystery Writing was published. In the book he stressed authenticity above all else.

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