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Paddy Chayefsky

Paddy Chayefsky

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Sidney Aaron "Paddy" Chayefsky (January 29, 1923August 1, 1981), was an American playwright, screenwriter
Screenwriter
Screenwriters or scriptwriters or scenario writers are people who write/create the short or feature-length screenplays from which mass media such as films, television programs, Comics or video games are based.-Profession:...

, and novelist. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay.

He was considered one of the most renowned dramatists of the so-called Golden Age of Television
Golden Age of Television
The Golden Age of Television in the United States began sometime in the late 1940s and extended to the late 1950s or early 1960s.-Evolutions of drama on television:...

. His intimate, realistic scripts helped determine the naturalistic style of television drama of the 1950s, and he was regarded as the central figure in the "kitchen sink realism
Kitchen sink realism
Kitchen sink realism is a term coined to describe a British cultural movement which developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s in theatre, art, novels, film and television plays, whose 'heroes' usually could be described as angry young men...

" movement of American television. Martin Gottfried wrote, "He was a successful writer, the most successful graduate of television's slice of life
Slice of life
Slice of life is a phrase describing the use of mundane realism depicting everyday experiences in art and entertainment.-Theater:The theatrical term refers to a naturalistic representation of real life, sometimes used as an adjective, as in "a play with 'slice of life' dialogue." The term...

 school of naturalism."

Following his critically acclaimed teleplays, Chayefsky continued to succeed as a playwright and novelist. As a screenwriter, he received three Academy Awards for Marty
Marty (film)
Marty is a 1955 American film directed by Delbert Mann. The screenplay was written by Paddy Chayefsky, expanding upon his 1953 teleplay of the same name. The film stars Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair. The film enjoyed international success, winning the 1955 Academy Award for Best Picture and...

(1955), The Hospital
The Hospital
The Hospital is a 1971 black comedy film directed by Arthur Hiller and starring George C. Scott as Dr. Herbert Bock. The script was written by Paddy Chayefsky, who was awarded the 1972 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.-Plot:...

(1971) and Network
Network (film)
Network is a 1976 American satirical film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer about a fictional television network, Union Broadcasting System , and its struggle with poor ratings. The film was written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet...

(1976). Marty was based on his own television drama about a relationship between two lonely people finding love. Network was his scathing satire of the television industry and The Hospital was considered satiric. Film historian David Thomson
David Thomson (film critic)
David Thomson is a film critic and historian based in the United States and the author of more than 20 books, including The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.-Career:...

 termed it "daring, uninhibited, and prophetic. No one else would have dreamed of doing it."

Chayefsky's early stories were notable for their dialogue, their depiction of second-generation Americans and their sentiment and humor. They were frequently influenced by the author's childhood in the Bronx
The Bronx
The Bronx is the northernmost of the five boroughs of New York City. It is also known as Bronx County, the last of the 62 counties of New York State to be incorporated...

. The protagonists were generally middle-class tradesmen struggling with personal problems: loneliness, pressures to conform or their own emotions.

Early life


He was born in the Bronx, New York to Ukrainian
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 Jewish parents, Harry and Gussie Stuchevsky Chayefsky. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School
DeWitt Clinton High School
DeWitt Clinton High School is an American high school located in the Bronx, New York City, New York.-History:Clinton opened in 1897 at 60 West 13th Street at the northern end of Greenwich Village under the name of Boys High School, although this Boys High School was not related to the one in Brooklyn...

, and then the City College of New York
City College of New York
The City College of the City University of New York is a senior college of the City University of New York , in New York City. It is also the oldest of the City University's twenty-three institutions of higher learning...

. While there, he played for the semi-professional football team Kingsbridge Trojans. He graduated with a degree in accounting, and then studied languages at Fordham University
Fordham University
Fordham University is a private, nonprofit, coeducational research university in the United States, with three campuses in and around New York City. It was founded by the Roman Catholic Diocese of New York in 1841 as St...

.

Military service


During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, he joined the U.S. Army, where he received both a Purple Heart
Purple Heart
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917 with the U.S. military. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York...

 and the nickname Paddy. The nickname was given spontaneously when Chayefsky was awakened at dawn for kitchen duty. He asked to be excused so he could go to Mass. "Yesterday morning you said you were Jewish," said the duty officer. "Yes, but my mother is Irish," joked Chayefsky. "Okay, Paddy," said the officer, and the name became habitual.

Serving with the 104th Infantry Division in the European Theatre, he was near Aachen
Aachen
Aachen has historically been a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and the place of coronation of the Kings of Germany. Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost town of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, ...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 when he was wounded, reportedly by a land mine. While recovering from his injuries in the Army Hospital near Cirencester
Cirencester
Cirencester is a market town in east Gloucestershire, England, 93 miles west northwest of London. Cirencester lies on the River Churn, a tributary of the River Thames, and is the largest town in the Cotswold District. It is the home of the Royal Agricultural College, the oldest agricultural...

, England, he wrote the book and lyrics to a musical comedy, No T.O. for Love. First produced in 1945 by the Special Services Unit, the show toured European Army bases for two years. The London opening of No T.O. for Love at the Scala Theatre in the West End
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

 was the beginning of Chayefsky's theatrical career. During the London production of this musical, Chayefsky encountered Joshua Logan
Joshua Logan
Joshua Lockwood Logan III was an American stage and film director and writer.-Early years:Logan was born in Texarkana, Texas, the son of Susan and Joshua Lockwood Logan. When he was three years old his father committed suicide...

, a future collaborator, and Garson Kanin
Garson Kanin
Garson Kanin was a prolific American writer and director of plays and films.-Film and stage career:...

, who invited Chayefsky to collaborate with him on a documentary of the Allied invasion, The True Glory.

Post-war


Returning to the United States, Chayefsky worked in his uncle's print shop, Regal Press, an experience which provided a background for his later teleplay, Printer's Measure (1953). Kanin enabled Chayefsky to spend time working on his second play, Put Them All Together (later known as M is for Mother), but it was never produced. Producers Mike Gordon and Jerry Bressler gave him a junior writer's contract. He wrote a story, The Great American Hoax, which sold to Good Housekeeping
Good Housekeeping
Good Housekeeping is a women's magazine owned by the Hearst Corporation, featuring articles about women's interests, product testing by The Good Housekeeping Institute, recipes, diet, health as well as literary articles. It is well known for the "Good Housekeeping Seal," popularly known as the...

but was never published.

He relocated to Hollywood, where he met his future wife Susan Sackler, and the couple married in February 1949. Failing to find work on the West Coast, Chayefsky returned to New York.

During the late 1940s, he began working full time on short stories and radio scripts, and during that period, he was a gagwriter for radio host Robert Q. Lewis
Robert Q. Lewis
Robert Q. Lewis was an American radio and television personality, game show host, and actor. Lewis added the middle initial "Q." to his name accidentally on the air in 1942, when he responded to a reference to radio comedian F. Chase Taylor's character, Colonel Lemuel Q...

. Chayefsky later recalled, "I sold some plays to men who had an uncanny ability not to raise money." During 1951-52, Chayefsky wrote adaptations for radio's Theater Guild on the Air
The United States Steel Hour
The United States Steel Hour is an anthology series which brought hour-long dramas to television from 1953 to 1963. The television series and the radio program that preceded it were both sponsored by the United States Steel Corporation....

: The Meanest Man in the World (with James Stewart
James Stewart (actor)
James Maitland Stewart was an American film and stage actor, known for his distinctive voice and his everyman persona. Over the course of his career, he starred in many films widely considered classics and was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition and receiving one Lifetime...

), Cavalcade of America
Cavalcade of America
Cavalcade of America is an anthology drama series that was sponsored by the DuPont Company, although it occasionally presented a musical, such as an adaptation of Show Boat, and condensed biographies of popular composers. It was initially broadcast on radio from 1935 to 1953, and later on...

, Tommy (with Van Heflin
Van Heflin
Emmett Evan "Van" Heflin, Jr. was an American film and theatre actor. He played mostly character parts over the course of his film career, but during the 1940s had a string of roles as a leading man...

 and Ruth Gordon
Ruth Gordon
Ruth Gordon Jones , better known as Ruth Gordon, was an American actress and writer. She was perhaps best known for her film roles such as Minnie Castevet, Rosemary's overly solicitous neighbor in Rosemary's Baby, as the eccentric Maude in Harold and Maude and as the mother of Orville Boggs in the...

) and Over 21 (with Wally Cox
Wally Cox
Wallace Maynard Cox was an American comedian and actor, particularly associated with the early years of television in the United States. He appeared in the U.S. TV series Mr. Peepers , plus several other popular shows, and as a character actor in over 20 films...

).

His play The Man Who Made the Mountain Shake was noticed by Elia Kazan
Elia Kazan
Elia Kazan was an American director and actor, described by the New York Times as "one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history". Born in Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, to Greek parents originally from Kayseri in Anatolia, the family emigrated...

, and his wife, Molly Kazan
Molly Kazan
Mary "Molly" Kazan , the daughter of Alfred Beaumont Thacher and Emma Cecelia Erkenbrecher and the granddaughter of Thomas Anthony Thacher and Elizabeth Day; she was an American playwright and the first wife of the acclaimed, but controversial film director Elia Kazan.-Works:Mary Day Thacher, as...

, helped Chayefsky with revisions. It was retitled Fifth From Garibaldi but was never produced. In 1951, the movie As Young as You Feel
As Young as You Feel
As Young as You Feel is a comedy film starring Monty Woolley, Thelma Ritter, and David Wayne, with Marilyn Monroe in a small role.-Plot:...

was adapted from a Chayefsky story.

Television


He moved into television with scripts for Danger
Danger (TV series)
Danger is an anthology series which brought half hour-long dramas to television from 1950 to 1955.-Television:It first aired on September 19, 1950 on CBS. The first episode, entitled "The Black Door", was directed by Yul Brynner with a story by Henry Norton and a teleplay by Irving Elman. It...

, The Gulf Playhouse and Manhunt.


Philco Television Playhouse producer Fred Coe
Fred Coe
Fred Coe , nicknamed Pappy, was a television producer and director most famous for The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse in 1948-1955 and Playhouse 90 from 1957 to 1959...

 saw the Danger and Manhunt episodes and enlisted Chayefsky to adapt the story It Happened on the Brooklyn Subway about a photographer on a New York subway train who reunites a concentration camp survivor with his long-lost wife. Chayefsky's first script to be telecast was a 1949 adaptation of Budd Schulberg
Budd Schulberg
Budd Schulberg was an American screenwriter, television producer, novelist and sports writer. He was known for his 1941 novel, What Makes Sammy Run?, his 1947 novel The Harder They Fall, his 1954 Academy-award-winning screenplay for On the Waterfront, and his 1957 screenplay for A Face in the...

's What Makes Sammy Run?
What Makes Sammy Run?
What Makes Sammy Run? is a novel by Budd Schulberg. It is a rags to riches story chronicling the rise and fall of Sammy Glick, a Jewish boy born in New York's Lower East Side who very early in his life makes up his mind to escape the ghetto and climb the ladder of success...

for Philco.

Since he had always wanted to use a synagogue as backdrop, he wrote Holiday Song, telecast in 1952 and also in 1954. He submitted more work to Philco, including Printer's Measure, The Bachelor Party
The Bachelor Party
The Bachelor Party is a 1953 teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky which was adapted by Chayefsky for a 1957 film.-Television:Chayefsky's teleplay was produced by Fred Coe for The Philco Television Playhouse on October 11, 1953...

(1953) and The Big Deal (1953). One of these teleplays, Mother (April 4, 1954), received a new production October 24, 1994 on Great Performances
Great Performances
Great Performances, a television series devoted to the performing arts, has been telecast on Public Broadcasting Service public television since 1972...

with Anne Bancroft in the title role. Curiously, original teleplays from the 1950s are almost never revived for new TV productions, so the 1994 production of Mother was a conspicuous rarity.

In 1953, Chayefsky wrote Marty, which was premiered on The Philco Television Playhouse, with Rod Steiger
Rod Steiger
Rodney Stephen "Rod" Steiger was an Academy Award-winning American actor known for his performances in such films as On the Waterfront, The Big Knife, Oklahoma!, The Harder They Fall, Across the Bridge, The Pawnbroker, Doctor Zhivago, In the Heat of the Night, and Waterloo as well as the...

 and Nancy Marchand
Nancy Marchand
Nancy Marchand was an American actress, whose career encompassed both stage and screen. She appeared in various theatre productions throughout the early 1950s, before being offered roles on film and television....

. Marty is a poignant story of a decent, hard-working Bronx butcher, pining for the company of a woman in his life but despairing of ever finding true love in a relationship. Fate pairs him with a plain, shy schoolteacher named Clara whom he rescues from the embarrassment of being abandoned by her blind date in a local dance hall. The production, the actors and Chayefsky's naturalistic dialogue received much critical acclaim and influenced subsequent live television dramas. Chayefsky had a unique clause in his Marty contract that stated that only he could write the screenplay. Adapted into a 1955 film with Ernest Borgnine
Ernest Borgnine
Ernest Borgnine is an American actor of television and film. His career has spanned more than six decades. He was an unconventional lead in many films of the 1950s, including his Academy Award-winning turn in the 1955 film Marty...

 and Betsy Blair
Betsy Blair
Betsy Blair was an American actress of film and stage, long based in London.Blair pursued a career in entertainment from the age of eight, and as a child worked as an amateur dancer, performed on radio, and worked as a model, before joining the chorus of Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe in 1940...

, it earned Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Delbert Mann
Delbert Mann
Delbert Martin Mann, Jr. was an American television and film director. He won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Director for the film Marty...

) and Best Actor (Borgnine). Chayefsky won his first Best Screenplay Oscar for the movie.

Chayefsky's The Great American Hoax was broadcast May 15, 1957 during the second season of The 20th Century Fox Hour
The 20th Century Fox Hour
The 20th Century Fox Hour is an American drama anthology series televised in the United States on CBS from 1955 to 1957. Some of the shows in this series were restored, remastered and shown on the Fox Movie Channel in 2002 under the title Hour of Stars...

. This was actually a rewrite of his earlier Fox film, As Young as You Feel (1951) with Monty Woolley
Monty Woolley
Monty Woolley was an American stage, film, radio, and television actor. At the age of 50, he achieved a measure of stardom for his best-known role in the stage play and 1942 film The Man Who Came to Dinner...

 and Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, singer, model and showgirl who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s....

. The Great American Hoax was shown on the FX channel after Fox restored some The 20th Century Fox Hour episodes and telecast them under the new title Fox Hour of Stars beginning in 2002.

Writing style


Chayefsky gained the reputation as a realist for his television scripting.
Chayefsky’s plays, broadcast live, adapted themselves well to the small screen format of early television through the utilization of physically restrained stage sets crafted so dialogue took precedence over action. His themes were often a testament to the struggles of the human condition, sagas of ordinary, hard- working people striving to maintain their hard-won middle-class status. His protagonists wrestled with personal problems, such as loneliness, pressure to conform to society’s expectations, and inability to understand or successfully manage their own emotional drives.

Broadway


The seventh season of Philco Television Playhouse began September 19, 1954 with E. G. Marshall
E. G. Marshall
E. G. Marshall was an American actor, best known for his television roles as the lawyer Lawrence Preston on The Defenders in the 1960s, and as neurosurgeon David Craig on The Bold Ones: The New Doctors in the 1970s...

 and Eva Marie Saint
Eva Marie Saint
Eva Marie Saint is an American actress who has starred in films, on Broadway, and on television in a career spanning seven decades. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the drama film On the Waterfront , and later starred in the thriller film North by...

 in Chayefsky's Middle of the Night
Middle of the Night
Middle of the Night is a 1959 American drama film directed by Delbert Mann, and released by Columbia Pictures. It was entered into the 1959 Cannes Film Festival. The screenplay was adapted by Paddy Chayefsky from his Broadway play of the same name.-Plot:...

, a play which relocated to Broadway theaters 15 months later; In 1956, Middle of the Night opened on Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 with Edward G. Robinson
Edward G. Robinson
Edward G. Robinson was a Romanian-born American actor. A popular star during Hollywood's Golden Age, he is best remembered for his roles as gangsters, such as Rico in his star-making film Little Caesar and as Rocco in Key Largo...

 and Gena Rowlands
Gena Rowlands
Gena Rowlands is an American actress of film, stage and television. The four-time Emmy and two-time Golden Globe winner is best known for her collaborations with her actor-director husband John Cassavetes in ten films, in two of which, Gloria and A Woman Under the Influence, she gave Academy...

, and its success led to a national tour. It was filmed by Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. is an American film production and distribution company. Columbia Pictures now forms part of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate Sony. It is one of the leading film companies...

 in 1959.

The Tenth Man (1959) marked Chayefsky's second Broadway theatrical success, garnering 1960 Tony nominations for Best Play, Best Director (Tyrone Guthrie
Tyrone Guthrie
Sir William Tyrone Guthrie was an English theatrical director instrumental in the founding of the Stratford Festival of Canada, the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, at his family's home, Annaghmakerrig, in County Monaghan, Ireland.-Life and career:Guthrie...

) and Best Scenic Design. Guthrie received another nomination for Chayefsky's Gideon
Gideon (play)
Gideon, a play by Paddy Chayefsky, is a seriocomic treatment of the story of Gideon, a judge in the Old Testament. The play had a successful Broadway run in 1961 and was broadcast on NBC in 1971 as a Hallmark Hall of Fame special.-The story:...

, as did actor Fredric March
Fredric March
Fredric March was an American stage and film actor. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1932 for Dr. Jekyll and Mr...

. Chayefsky's final Broadway theatrical production, a play based on the life of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

, The Passion of Josef D, received unfavorable reviews and ran for only 15 performances.

Films


After the success of Marty, he worked mainly on films. He received an Oscar nomination for The Goddess, loosely based on the life of Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, singer, model and showgirl who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s....

. Directed by John Cromwell
John Cromwell (director)
Elwood Dager Cromwell , known as John Cromwell, was an American film actor, director and producer.-Biography:...

, it starred Kim Stanley
Kim Stanley
Kim Stanley was an American actress, primarily in television and theatre, but with occasional film performances....

 as Emily Ann Faulkner, a small town blonde who achieves fame in films but becomes emotionally disturbed and a problem to her producer, her director, and her husband played by Lloyd Bridges
Lloyd Bridges
Lloyd Vernet Bridges, Jr. was an American actor who starred in a number of television series and appeared in more than 150 feature films. Bridges is best known for his role of Mike Nelson in Sea Hunt, the most-popular syndicated American TV series in 1958...

.

Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal is an American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist. His third novel, The City and the Pillar , outraged mainstream critics as one of the first major American novels to feature unambiguous homosexuality...

 adapted Chayefsky's teleplay The Catered Affair into a film of the same name
The Catered Affair
The Catered Affair , also known as Wedding Party, is a family drama film made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed by Richard Brooks and produced by Sam Zimbalist from a screenplay by Gore Vidal, based on a television play by Paddy Chayefsky...

. In 2008, it was adapted to a Broadway musical by Harvey Fierstein
Harvey Fierstein
Harvey Forbes Fierstein is a U.S. actor and playwright, noted for the early distinction of winning Tony Awards for both writing and originating the lead role in his long-running play Torch Song Trilogy, about a gay drag-performer and his quest for true love and family, as well as writing the...

 with music and lyrics by John Bucchino. It had a four-month run, receiving 15 Tony and Drama Desk nominations.

He expanded his 1953 teleplay, The Bachelor Party
The Bachelor Party
The Bachelor Party is a 1953 teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky which was adapted by Chayefsky for a 1957 film.-Television:Chayefsky's teleplay was produced by Fred Coe for The Philco Television Playhouse on October 11, 1953...

, for the 1957 film adaptation. Directed by Mann, the drama has characters who are questioning the concept of marriage, of commitment to one person and going day after day to the same dull job to support a family.

The Americanization of Emily
During the 1960s his credits included The Americanization of Emily
The Americanization of Emily
The Americanization of Emily is a 1964 American comedy-drama war film written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Arthur Hiller, loosely adapted from the novel of the same name by William Bradford Huie who had been a SeaBee officer on D-Day....

, which featured James Garner
James Garner
James Garner is an American film and television actor, one of the first Hollywood actors to excel in both media. He has starred in several television series spanning a career of more than five decades...

, Julie Andrews
Julie Andrews
Dame Julia Elizabeth Andrews, DBE is an English film and stage actress, singer, and author. She is the recipient of Golden Globe, Emmy, Grammy, BAFTA, People's Choice Award, Theatre World Award, Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award honors...

, Melvyn Douglas
Melvyn Douglas
Melvyn Edouard Hesselberg , better known as Melvyn Douglas, was an American actor.Coming to prominence in the 1930s as a suave leading man , Douglas later transitioned into more mature and fatherly roles as in his Academy Award-winning performances in Hud...

 and James Coburn
James Coburn
James Harrison Coburn III was an American film and television actor. Coburn appeared in nearly 70 films and made over 100 television appearances during his 45-year career, and played a wide range of roles and won an Academy Award for his supporting role as Glen Whitehouse in Affliction.A capable,...

, an anti-war comedy that remains both Garner's and Andrews' favorite of their films. Garner plays a naval officer so comically frightened under fire on D-Day
D-Day
D-Day is a term often used in military parlance to denote the day on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. "D-Day" often represents a variable, designating the day upon which some significant event will occur or has occurred; see Military designation of days and hours for similar...

 that he actually runs the other way. Paint Your Wagon
Paint Your Wagon (film)
Paint Your Wagon is a 1969 American musical film starring Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood. The movie was adapted by Paddy Chayefsky from the 1951 stage musical by Lerner and Loewe, set in a mining camp in Gold Rush-era California.-Plot:...

, a screen vehicle for Lee Marvin
Lee Marvin
Lee Marvin was an American film actor. Known for his gravelly voice, white hair and 6' 2" stature, Marvin at first did supporting roles, mostly villains, soldiers and other hardboiled characters, but after winning an Academy Award for Best Actor for his dual roles in Cat Ballou , he landed more...

, was a lavish Western musical comedy. Paint Your Wagon director Joshua Logan
Joshua Logan
Joshua Lockwood Logan III was an American stage and film director and writer.-Early years:Logan was born in Texarkana, Texas, the son of Susan and Joshua Lockwood Logan. When he was three years old his father committed suicide...

 said he "found Chayefsky to be close to a genius, but too close to stubborn."

The Hospital
He won two more Oscars, the first for The Hospital
The Hospital
The Hospital is a 1971 black comedy film directed by Arthur Hiller and starring George C. Scott as Dr. Herbert Bock. The script was written by Paddy Chayefsky, who was awarded the 1972 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.-Plot:...

(1971) which featured George C. Scott
George C. Scott
George Campbell Scott was an American stage and film actor, director and producer. He was best known for his stage work, as well as his portrayal of General George S. Patton in the film Patton, and as General Buck Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick's Dr...

 and Diana Rigg
Diana Rigg
Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg, DBE is an English actress. She is probably best known for her portrayals of Emma Peel in The Avengers and Countess Teresa di Vicenzo in the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service....

. David Thomson
David Thomson (film critic)
David Thomson is a film critic and historian based in the United States and the author of more than 20 books, including The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.-Career:...

 describes it as a "lethally funny account of American social benevolence collapsing in its own bureaucratic chaos. Another review terms it "a scathing indictment of the medical community." (In 1980, after he was diagnosed with cancer, he refused surgery, claiming that he "feared retribution by the doctors" for his caustic portrayal of them in the film. He died the next year.)

Network
The film was followed by Network
Network (film)
Network is a 1976 American satirical film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer about a fictional television network, Union Broadcasting System , and its struggle with poor ratings. The film was written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet...

(1976), which featured Faye Dunaway
Faye Dunaway
Faye Dunaway is an American actress.Dunaway won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Network after receiving previous nominations for the critically acclaimed films Bonnie and Clyde and Chinatown...

, William Holden
William Holden
William Holden was an American actor. Holden won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1954 and the Emmy Award for Best Actor in 1974...

, Peter Finch
Peter Finch
Peter Finch was a British-born Australian actor. He is best remembered for his role as "crazed" television anchorman Howard Beale in the film Network, which earned him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Actor, his fifth Best Actor award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and a...

 (who posthumously was awarded an Oscar for "Best Actor in a Leading Role") and Robert Duvall
Robert Duvall
Robert Selden Duvall is an American actor and director. He has won an Academy Award, two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards and a BAFTA over the course of his career....

 among other cast members. For both of these films Chayefsky received Golden Globe awards. The film annoyed many television executives and news anchors, but it won the acclaim of most critics. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

, winning four, including Best Actress
Academy Award for Best Actress
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

 for Faye Dunaway. Peter Finch
Peter Finch
Peter Finch was a British-born Australian actor. He is best remembered for his role as "crazed" television anchorman Howard Beale in the film Network, which earned him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Actor, his fifth Best Actor award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and a...

 and Beatrice Straight
Beatrice Straight
Beatrice Whitney Straight was an American theatre, film, and television actress. Hers remains the shortest acting performance in a film to win an Oscar. In her winning role in the 1976 film Network, she was on screen for five minutes and forty seconds, the shortest time ever for the winner of the...

 also won for Best Actor
Academy Award for Best Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

 and Best Supporting Actress
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry. Since its inception, however, the...

, respectively, and it resulted in Chayefsky's third and final award for Best Screenplay.

Chayefsky provided actor Peter Finch with one of the most iconic movie lines in film history. Finch as the unhinged news anchor, Howard Beale, implores his TV audience to rise in unanimous protest against universal injustice. Waving his arms in vehement appeal, he instructs the public to take up the call, go to their windows and with him in unison yell out to the world:

“I’m as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!'

Although Chayefsky was an early writer for the television medium, he eventually abandoned it, "decrying the lack of interest the networks demonstrated toward quality programming." As a result, during the course of his career, he constantly toyed with the idea of lampooning the television industry, which he succeeded in doing with Network. The film is said to have "presaged the advent of reality television
Reality television
Reality television is a genre of television programming that presents purportedly unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, documents actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of professional actors, sometimes in a contest or other situation where a prize is awarded...

 by twenty years" and was a "sardonic satire" of the television industry, dealing with the "dehumanization of modern life."

Novels


Inspired by the work of John C. Lilly
John C. Lilly
John Cunningham Lilly was an American physician, neuroscientist, psychoanalyst, psychonaut, philosopher and writer....

, Chayefsky spent two years in Boston doing research to write his science fiction novel Altered States
Altered States
Altered States is a 1980 American science fiction-horror film adaptation of a novel by the same name by playwright and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. It was the only novel that Chayefsky ever wrote, as well as his final film. Both the novel and the film are based on John C...

(HarperCollins, 1978) about a man's search for his primal self through psychotropic drugs and an isolation tank
Isolation tank
An isolation tank is a lightless, soundproof tank inside which subjects float in salt water at skin temperature. They were first used by John C. Lilly in 1954 to test the effects of sensory deprivation. Such tanks are now also used for meditation and relaxation and in alternative medicine. The...

. Chayefsky suffered greatly from stress while working on the novel, resulting in his heart attack in 1977. Subsequent to that misfortune, he was sued by one of the numerous scientific advisors he hired to help him with research. He wrote the screenplay for the 1980 film, but he is credited by his real first and middle name, Sidney Aaron, because of disputes with director Ken Russell
Ken Russell
Henry Kenneth Alfred "Ken" Russell was an English film director, known for his pioneering work in television and film and for his flamboyant and controversial style. He attracted criticism as being obsessed with sexuality and the church...

.

Personal life


Drama critic Martin Gottfried
Martin Gottfried
-Early career:Gottfried is a 1959 graduate of Columbia College in New York City, and attended Columbia Law School for three semesters, next spending one year with U.S. Army Military Intelligence...

 gives a general description of Chayefsky's personal traits as they may have affected his writings:
Chayefsky was a sturdy man of 42, compact and burly in the bulky way of a schoolyard athlete, with thick dark hair and a bent nose that could pass for a streetfighter's. He was a grown-up with one foot in the boys' clubs of his city youth, a street snob who would not allow the loss of his nostalgia. He was an intellectual competitor, always spoiling for a political argument or a philosophical argument, or any exchange over any issue, changing sides for the fun of the fray. A liberal, he was annoyed by liberals; a proud Jew, he wouldn't let anyone call him a "Jewish writer." In short, the life of the mind was a participant sport for Paddy Chayefsky.


Paddy and Susan Sackler Chayefsky's son Dan was born six years after their 1949 marriage. Despite an alleged affair with Kim Novak
Kim Novak
Kim Novak is an American film and television actress. She began her career with her roles in Pushover and Phffft! but achieved greater prominence in the 1955 film Picnic...

, Paddy and Susan Chayefsky remained married until his death.

Chayefsky died in New York City of cancer in August 1981 at the age of 58, and was interred in Kensico Cemetery
Kensico Cemetery
Kensico Cemetery, located in Valhalla, Westchester County, New York, was founded in 1889, when many New York City cemeteries were becoming full, and rural cemeteries were being created near the railroads which served the city...

 in Valhalla
Valhalla
In Norse mythology, Valhalla is a majestic, enormous hall located in Asgard, ruled over by the god Odin. Chosen by Odin, half of those that die in combat travel to Valhalla upon death, led by valkyries, while the other half go to the goddess Freyja's field Fólkvangr...

, Westchester County, New York. His personal papers are at the Wisconsin Historical Society
Wisconsin Historical Society
The Wisconsin Historical Society is simultaneously a private membership and a state-funded organization whose purpose is to maintain, promote and spread knowledge relating to the history of North America, with an emphasis on the state of Wisconsin and the trans-Allegheny West...

 and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center houses one of the world's largest collections of materials relating to the performing arts. It is one of the four research centers of the New York Public Library's Research library system, and it is also one...

, Billy Rose Theatre Division.

Filmography

  • The True Glory
    The True Glory
    The True Glory was a 1945 co-production of the US Office of War Information and the British Ministry of Information, documenting the victory on the Western Front, from Normandy to the collapse of the Third Reich. Although many individuals contributed to the film, British director Carol Reed is...

    (1945), uncredited, with Garson Kanin
  • As Young as You Feel
    As Young as You Feel
    As Young as You Feel is a comedy film starring Monty Woolley, Thelma Ritter, and David Wayne, with Marilyn Monroe in a small role.-Plot:...

    (1955), with Lamar Trotti
  • Marty
    Marty (film)
    Marty is a 1955 American film directed by Delbert Mann. The screenplay was written by Paddy Chayefsky, expanding upon his 1953 teleplay of the same name. The film stars Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair. The film enjoyed international success, winning the 1955 Academy Award for Best Picture and...

    (1955)
  • The Catered Affair
    The Catered Affair
    The Catered Affair , also known as Wedding Party, is a family drama film made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed by Richard Brooks and produced by Sam Zimbalist from a screenplay by Gore Vidal, based on a television play by Paddy Chayefsky...

    (1956)
  • The Bachelor Party
    The Bachelor Party
    The Bachelor Party is a 1953 teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky which was adapted by Chayefsky for a 1957 film.-Television:Chayefsky's teleplay was produced by Fred Coe for The Philco Television Playhouse on October 11, 1953...

    (1957)
  • The Goddess (1958)
  • Middle of the Night
    Middle of the Night
    Middle of the Night is a 1959 American drama film directed by Delbert Mann, and released by Columbia Pictures. It was entered into the 1959 Cannes Film Festival. The screenplay was adapted by Paddy Chayefsky from his Broadway play of the same name.-Plot:...

    (1959)
  • The Americanization of Emily
    The Americanization of Emily
    The Americanization of Emily is a 1964 American comedy-drama war film written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Arthur Hiller, loosely adapted from the novel of the same name by William Bradford Huie who had been a SeaBee officer on D-Day....

    (1964)
  • Paint Your Wagon
    Paint Your Wagon (film)
    Paint Your Wagon is a 1969 American musical film starring Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood. The movie was adapted by Paddy Chayefsky from the 1951 stage musical by Lerner and Loewe, set in a mining camp in Gold Rush-era California.-Plot:...

    (with Alan Jay Lerner
    Alan Jay Lerner
    Alan Jay Lerner was an American lyricist and librettist. In collaboration with Frederick Loewe, he created some of the world's most popular and enduring works of musical theatre for both the stage and on film...

    ) (1969)
  • The Hospital
    The Hospital
    The Hospital is a 1971 black comedy film directed by Arthur Hiller and starring George C. Scott as Dr. Herbert Bock. The script was written by Paddy Chayefsky, who was awarded the 1972 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.-Plot:...

    (1971)
  • Network
    Network (film)
    Network is a 1976 American satirical film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer about a fictional television network, Union Broadcasting System , and its struggle with poor ratings. The film was written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet...

    (1976)
  • Altered States
    Altered States
    Altered States is a 1980 American science fiction-horror film adaptation of a novel by the same name by playwright and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. It was the only novel that Chayefsky ever wrote, as well as his final film. Both the novel and the film are based on John C...

    (1980)
  • The Habakkuk Conspiracy (1983)

Television and stage plays


Television (selection)
  • 1950-55 Danger
  • 1951-52 Manhunt
  • 1951-60 Goodyear Playhouse
  • 1952-54 Philco Television Playhouse
  • 1952 Holiday Song
  • 1952 The Reluctant Citizen
  • 1953 Printer's Measure
  • 1953 Marty
    Marty
    Marty is a 1953 teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky. It was telecast live May 24, 1953, on The Goodyear Television Playhouse with Rod Steiger in the title role and Nancy Marchand, in her television debut, playing opposite him as Clara...

  • 1953 The Big Deal
  • 1953 The Bachelor Party
  • 1953 The Sixth Year
  • 1953 Catch My Boy On Sunday
  • 1954 The Mother
  • 1954 Middle of the Night
  • 1955 The Catered Affair
  • 1956 The Great American Hoax


Stage
  • No T.O. for Love (1945)
  • Middle of the Night (1956)
  • The Tenth Man (1959)
  • Gideon (1961)
  • The Passion of Josef D. (1964)
  • The Latent Heterosexual (originally titled The Accountant's Tale or The Case of the Latent Heterosexual) (1968)

External links