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Obituaries / Fred Haines, 1936 - 2008

Oscar-nominated screenwriter also directed films

May 22, 2008|Mary Rourke | Times Staff Writer

Fred Haines, a writer and director who co-wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay adaptation of "Ulysses," the highly experimental novel by James Joyce, and wrote and directed a film version of "Steppenwolf," a tormented quest novel by Hermann Hesse, has died. He was 72.

Haines died May 4 of complications from lung cancer at his home in Venice, said John Crowther, a longtime friend.

For a movie version of "Ulysses," Haines and film director Joseph Strick used the novelist's prose almost exclusively and cast the film with leading Irish actors.

Critical reviews were mixed, but the screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award in 1968.

The film was banned in Ireland, just as the novel had been in 1922, but the Irish film censor reversed its ruling in 2000 and approved the film for viewing.

Haines' screen adaptation of "Steppenwolf," released in 1974, was based on the 1927 novel that became a cult classic on college campuses in the 1960s.

Actor Max von Sydow played Harry Haller, who strains against bourgeoise society with the help of sex, drugs and fantasies.

Critics admired the film's innovative use of video and animation, but not much else.

Haines was born in Los Angeles on Feb. 27, 1936, and later moved with his family to Tucson.

He joined the Navy in the 1950s and, after an honorable discharge, attended several colleges, majoring in literature; he graduated from UC Berkeley.

He was working as a station manager for KPFK radio in Los Angeles in the early 1960s when he met Strick, who helped him get a job in the story department at Columbia Pictures.

Haines also directed several documentary films.

For a time, he lived in Dublin, where he directed stage productions for Stage One, a fringe theater there.

His first marriage, to Dede Wright, ended in divorce in 1961.

He then married Frances McCormack. They divorced in 2000.

Haines is survived by his children, Regan and Sean; and two grandchildren.

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mary.rourke@latimes.com

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