Thursday, January 10, 2008

James Costigan Passes On

Emmy winning television writer Jack Costigan passed on December 19. His exact age was unknown, but he was thought to be in his seventies or eighties.

James Costigan was born in the Los Angeles area. As a child he appeared in small parts in movies. As an adult he would move to New York where he would have small parts in plays and later on television. On television he played small roles on such shows as Kraft Television Theatre and The Web. He began his career writing for television a 1952 adaptation of Captain-General of the Armies for Studio One. Over the years he would writer for such anthology shows as Kraft Television Theatre, The United States Steel Hour, Hallmark Hall of Fame, and General Electric Theatre. He won an Emmy in 1959 for “Little Moon of Alban,” an original episode of Hallmark Hall of Fame.

In the Sixties, with anthology shows in decline, Costigan turned to writing for Broadway. He adapted his teleplay Little Moon of Alban” for the stage in 1960. He would write two more plays, The Beast in Me and Baby Want a Kiss.

In the Seventies, Costigan returned to television, writing prestige TV movies. His teleplay for Love Among the Ruins, which featured Katherine Hepburn who hires an ex-lover (Laurence Olivier) to defend her in a breech of promise case, won Costigan the 1975 Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Special Program - Drama or Comedy--Original Teleplay. He won another Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Special Program - Drama or Comedy - Original Teleplay in 1976 for Eleanor and Franklin.

Costigan would eventually turn to writing screenplays for movies in the Eighties. He wrote the screenplays for The Hunger, King David, and Mr. North.

While James Costigan was not prolific in his output when compared to other television writers, he was also one of the very best. His works almost always received good reviews and Costigan himself was recognised by the Writers Guild of America with the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for his achievement in TV writing in 1979. He may not have written as many teleplays as other television writers, but he wrote among the best.

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