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Norman Wexler (6 August 1926 – 23 August 1999) was a screenwriter whose work included such films as Saturday Night Fever, Serpico and Joe, for which he received an Oscar nomination in 1971. A Detroit native and 1944 Central High School graduate; Wexler attended Harvard University before moving to New York in 1951.[1]

His distinction as a writer: many of his scripts were commercially very successful low budget hits that at the same time received critical acclaim and have stood the test of time. His Joe, Serpico and Mandingo, each made by different directors with different casts, nevertheless were significant hits that launched or enhanced careers. He received Oscar nominations for the first two works.

He wrote Saturday Night Fever, which generated earnings in excess of $1.2B in today's dollars when both movie and record album sales are counted, more than double US sales of top box office hit Titanic -- which had a huge budget and costly special effects.

He was reported to have suffered from severe mental illness, reportedly bipolar disorder, and was arrested in 1972 for threatening to shoot President Richard Nixon. He served as partial inspiration for Andy Kaufman's character Tony Clifton. He was also the mysterious "Mr. X" in Bob Zmuda's biography of Andy Kaufman, Andy Kaufman Revealed. According to Zmuda, Saturday Night Fever made Wexler a wealthy man. He also was a much sought-after script doctor, reworking the scripts for Lipstick and The Fan.

Wexler was also a sometime playwright. His play "The Rope" was produced at Cafe La MaMa (NY) in 1965.

His last manic episode November 1998-February 1999 took a toll on his health. Early in the morning of August 23rd, Wexler died of a heart attack at age 73.

References

  1. ^ http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/obituary-norman-wexler-1115537.html

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