Lehman, Ernest 1915-2005

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LEHMAN, Ernest 1915-2005

(Ernest Paul Lehman)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born December 8, 1915, in New York, NY; died of a heart attack July 2, 2005, in Los Angeles, CA. Film director, producer, and writer. One of the most famous screenwriters in Hollywood, Lehman was an Academy Award-winning author of original and adapted screenplays for such films as North by Northwest (1959), Sabrina (1954), The Sound of Music (1965), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), and The Sweet Smell of Success (1957). After studying writing at the City University of New York, he found work as a copywriter for a publicist in New York City and was a freelancer for ten years. One of his short stories caught the eye of an executive at Paramount Studios, who offered him a short contract in 1953. When his contract expired, he moved on to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and found early success with Executive Suite (1954), an adaptation of a work by Cameron Hawley that earned him a Writers Guild nomination. Lehman's career took off from this point, building an impressive list of credits that included The King and I (1956), West Side Story (1961), The Sound of Music (1965), Hello Dolly (1969), and Family Plot (1976). Lehman won an Academy Award for Sabrina and was given several Oscar nominations for North by Northwest, West Side Story, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He also earned four Writers Guild awards, and in 2001 was presented with a lifetime achievement award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the first screenwriter to earn that honor. Lehman, who also sometimes served as a producer and director on his films, was a champion of screenwriters, who he felt were not accorded enough recognition in Hollywood. Toward this end, he was active in the Writers Guild and was president of the organization's western branch from 1983 to 1985. Also the author of two novels, The French Atlantic Affair (1977) and Farewell Performance (1983), as well as short stories and nonfiction, Lehman was considered by many to be one of the last great writers of the Golden Age of Hollywood.



Chicago Tribune, July 8, 2005, section 3, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2005, p. B10.

New York Times, July 6, 2005, p. A19.

Times (London, England), July 7, 2005, p. 60.

Washington Post, July 7, 2005, p. B8.

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Lehman, Ernest 1915-2005

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