Axelrod, George 1922-2003

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AXELROD, George 1922-2003


See index for CA sketch: Born June 9, 1922, in New York, NY; died of heart failure June 21, 2003, in Los Angeles, CA. Author. Axelrod was best known for The Seven-Year Itch, his play about sexual mores, and for adapting the novels Breakfast at Tiffany's and The Manchurian Candidate to film. A haphazard student growing up, he left high school before graduating to become an actor and stage manager for summer stock theater. Soon, however, World War II came, and he spent the duration in the Army Signal Corps. With the war over, Axelrod established a successful career writing scripts for radio programs such as The Shadow and The Grand Ole Opry. He also began writing for television. His first play, The Seven-Year Itch: A Romantic Comedy (1952), became a huge hit in New York City, and he co-wrote the film version that starred actress Marilyn Monroe. Axelrod later expressed dismay that the then-puritanical mood in Hollywood—which prompted the removal of important parts of the storyline about a married man's affair with a young woman—damaged the integrity of the film version. Nevertheless, he went on to write another stage hit, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? A New Comedy (1955), which he also directed, and found great success adapting novels by other writers to film, among them Bus Stop (1956), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), and The Manchurian Candidate (1962). Breakfast at Tiffany's, based on the Truman Capote book, earned Axelrod an Academy Award nomination. In addition to writing for stage and screen, Axelrod produced and directed a number of productions during the 1950s and 1960s, including directing the plays Goodbye Charlie (1959), which he also wrote, and The Star-Spangled Girl (1966), and producing movies he wrote, such as The Manchurian Candidate (1962), How to Murder Your Wife (1965), and The Secret Life of an American Wife (1968). Although his output diminished in the 1970s and 1980s, he continued to write a few movies, including The Holcroft Covenant (1985) and The Fourth Protocol (1987). He was also the author of three novels: Beggar's Choice (1947), Blackmailer (1952), and Where Am I Now When I Need Me? (1971).



Contemporary Dramatists, sixth edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 22, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1999.


Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2003, p. B16.

New York Times, June 23, 2003, p. A23.

Times (London, England), June 25, 2003.

Washington Post, June 22, 2003, p. C10.