Viertel, Peter 1920-2007

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Viertel, Peter 1920-2007


See index for CA sketch: Born November 16, 1920, in Dresden, Germany; died of lymphoma, November 4, 2007, in Marbella, Spain. Screenwriter, novelist, and memoirist. Born in Germany, Viertel was raised in Hollywood, where his parents worked as a film director-screenwriter and an actress-screenwriter. From an early age he rubbed elbows with the luminaries of the film world on both sides of the camera. He began his own career as a novelist, and his early success led to screenwriting jobs that introduced him to celebrated directors like Alfred Hitchcock and John Huston, and novelists like Irwin Shaw and Ernest Hemingway. Viertel maintained an active social life that was, itself, not without a certain amount of celebrity. His first two marriages were tinged with elements of scandal: he abandoned his first (and pregnant) wife for a French model, who later left him for another man. His third marriage, which lasted for nearly fifty years, was to film star Deborah Kerr. Viertel's life and his work intersected in many ways over the years. He worked with Huston to revise the script for the 1951 film The African Queen, then wrote an original novel based on the shooting of that film, White Hunter, Black Heart (1953), which featured a remarkably "Hustonesque" filmmaker as the unpleasant protagonist. His friend Hemingway inspired his work as well. Some of Viertel's nine novels were written in a style that reminded critics of Hemingway's, though at a lesser level of perfection, and it was said that Viertel's novel about bullfighting, Love Lies Bleeding (1964), was a direct response to Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon. Viertel also adapted Hemingway's writings for the screenplays The Sun Also Rises (1957) and The Old Man and the Sea (1958). Viertel related his many encounters with fame and notoriety in the memoir Dangerous Friends: At Large with Hemingway and Huston in the Fifties (1992).



Viertel, Peter, Dangerous Friends: At Large with Hemingway and Huston in the Fifties, Talese (New York, NY), 1992.


Los Angeles Times, November 6, 2007, p. B10.

New York Times, November 6, 2007, p. C20.

Times (London, England), November 8, 2007, p. 71.

Washington Post, November 6, 2007, p. B7.

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Viertel, Peter 1920-2007

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