Sunday, December 28, 2008

Harold Pinter and Robert Mulligan Pass On

Two figures from the world of film recently passed. One was Harold Pinter, the playwright and screenwriter. The other was director Robert Mulligan.

Harold Pinter died December 24 at the age of 79. The cause was cancer.

Harold Pinter was born on October 10, 1930 in the East End of London. As a child in 1939, at the outset of World War II, Pinter was evacuated from London to a small city in Cornwall. Growing up, he grew to love both British war films and American gangster movies. When he was 20 his first poem was published. It was not long afterwards that he completed his first novel, The Dwarfs. He studied at the e Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the Central School of Speech and Drama. He then toured as an actor with a repertory company in Ireland.

Pinter wrote his first play, The Room, for a group of drama students. It opened in Bristol on May 15, 1957. Three years later it would open in London. His first full length play, The Birthday Party, opened in Hamersmith on May 19, 1958. It remains among his best known works. Pinter would write several more plays, including The Caretaker (1960), The Homecoming (1964), Betrayal (1978), and Celebration.

Pinter also worked in television and film. In 1960 he wrote an episode of Armchair Theatre. He would also write four episodes of ITV Television Playhouse. His first screenplay was for The Pumpkin Eater, released in 1964. He would go onto write screenplays for The Go-Between, The Last Tycoon, The French Lieutenant's Woman, and The Handmaid's Tale.

Director Robert Mulligan died December 20 at the age of 83. He was perhaps best known for directing the screen adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. The cause was heart disease.

Robert Mulligan was born in the Bronx on August 23, 1925. During World War II he served in the Navy. Following the war he worked in the telegraph office for The New York Times. He received a bachelor's degree from Fordham University in New York City in 1948. Mulligan got a job at CBS as a messenger and worked his way up to director. He made his directorial debut in 1951 on The Goodyear Television Playhouse. He went onto direct episodes of Suspense, The Philco Television Playhouse, Studio One, and Playhouse 90.

His first feature film was The Rat Race, released in 1960. He would go onto direct To Kill a Mockingbird, Up the Down Staircase, Inside Daisy Clover, Summer of '42, The Other, and The Man in the Moon.

His brother, Richard Mulligan, starred in the TV series Soap and Empty Nest.

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