The prolific Oscar-nominated screenwriter and director whose films include Harry And Tonto, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and Down And Out In Beverly Hills, died yesterday in Los Angeles of pulmonary cardiac arrest. Paul Mazursky was 84.
Born 1930 in Brooklyn as Irwin Mazursky, he was a graduate of Brooklyn College and made his cinema debut in Stanley Kubrick’s feature Fear And Desire. When he wasn’t acting, Mazursky was a stand-up comic in New York and at the Gate of Horn in Chicago. After befriending Pauls Sills and Barbara Harris, Marzursky appeared in the west coast company of Second City. Writing gigs followed on The Danny Kaye Show among many others, before he co-wrote the pilot for The Monkees TV series, in which he had a cameo. In 1968, Mazursky made his screenwriting debut with the Peter Sellers comedy I Love You, Alice B. Toklas. The following year, he made his directorial debut with the breakout hit Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, which he also co-wrote. The comedy, which follows the extramarital exploits of two jaded California couples and starred Elliot Gould, Natalie Wood, Dyan Cannon and Robert Culp, earned four Oscar nominations: best original screenplay for Mazursky, supporting actor for Gould, supporting actress for Cannon, and best cinematography for DP Charles Lang. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice embraced the sexual revolution of the late ’60s and started a trend for films that dealt with spouse-swapping and infidelity in interpersonal relationships.