James Goldman, an eclectic playwright, screenwriter, novelist and lyricist who won an Academy Award in 1968 for his screenplay "The Lion in Winter," has died. He was 71.
Goldman, also well known for writing the book for the musical "Follies," died Wednesday in New York after a heart attack.
Before the film came the play "The Lion in Winter," which Goldman wrote for Broadway in 1966. Although the production did poorly in its initial stage run, it has remained a favorite with theater companies and audiences nationwide.
The play is scheduled for a Broadway revival in February starring Laurence Fishburne and Stockard Channing. Often produced in small theaters, its depiction of England's King Henry II and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, fighting over succession has been staged locally at the Laguna Playhouse in 1988, Irvine Valley College in 1993, the Pasadena Playhouse in 1994, and the Santa Paula Theater Center last year.
Goldman's screenplay for the film starring Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn garnered far more success for the writer--earning him not only the Oscar but also a Writers Guild Award and the Writers Guild of Great Britain Zeta Plaque.
In 1971, Goldman wrote the book for composer Stephen Sondheim's ground-breaking Broadway musical "Follies," which earned a Drama Critics Award for best musical and Tony Award nomination.
Goldman and Sondheim also collaborated on "Evening Primrose," a 1966 musical for television about a group of clandestine department store residents.
Working with his brother William Goldman (who won his own Oscar for the screenplay of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"), James co-wrote the play "Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole" and the book for "A Family Affair."
Born in Chicago, Goldman earned bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Chicago and studied toward a doctorate at Columbia University. After serving in the Army, he settled down to a writing career.
His breakthrough play was "They Might Be Giants," which was first produced in England in 1961. Goldman later adapted the play into a film of the same title in 1970 starring George C. Scott as a man who believes that he is Sherlock Holmes and Joanne Woodward as his psychiatrist named Dr. Watson.
A specialist in history, Goldman also wrote the screenplays for the films "Nicholas and Alexandra" in 1971 and "Robin and Marian" in 1975.
His novels often drew on characters and stories from history--"Myself as Witness" about England's 13th century King John, "Waldorf," "The Man from Greek and Roman" and "Fulton County."
For television, he adapted such classics as "Oliver Twist" and "Anna Karenina."
Goldman had recently been working on lyrics and book for a new musical based on the novel "Tom Jones."
The writer is survived by his wife, Barbara; two children from a previous marriage, Julia and Matthew, and his brother, William.