Roman, Lawrence 1921–2008

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Roman, Lawrence 1921–2008


Born May 30, 1921, in Jersey City, NJ; died of kidney failure after a stroke, May 18, 2008, in Woodland Hills, CA. Screenwriter, playwright, and television writer. Roman scored a double victory when he wrote the hit Broadway comedy Under the Yum-Yum Tree (1960), starring Gig Young as a lecherous landlord who rents rooms to pretty young women in hopes of seducing them, then later adapted it as a popular film starring Jack Lemmon. He wrote other plays over the years and won praise for his snappy dialogue, but his original screenplays and adaptations are what audiences remember. After a brief stint in radio, Roman wrote his first screenplay in 1953. At least twenty more would follow, including the murder mystery A Kiss before Dying (1956), about a murder disguised as suicide, and McQ (1974), a story of police corruption and murder starring John Wayne as the honest police investigator Lon McQ. He adapted screenplays from other media as well, including the popular football film Paper Lion (1968), based on the nonfiction best seller by George Plimpton. Roman also wrote for television. He won a George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Award for the television movie The Ernest Green Story (1991). This movie explored the sensitive topic of school desegregation in Arkansas in the 1960s through the experiences of the first black student to graduate from a formerly all-white high school. Whether writing about race relations in a serious film or cohabitation outside marriage in a Broadway farce, Roman tackled the political and cultural issues of his day. His stage plays were produced throughout Europe and continued to be staged in repertory for decades after their debut performances.



Chicago Tribune, May 25, 2008, sec. 4, p. 6.

Los Angeles Times, May 24, 2008, p. B11.

Washington Post, May 25, 2008, p. C9.

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Roman, Lawrence 1921–2008

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