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Chayefsky, Paddy (1923-1981)

Chayefsky, Paddy (1923-1981)

Distinguished playwright, novelist, and screenwriter Paddy (born Sidney) Chayefsky was a major force in the flowering of post-World War II television drama, sympathetically chronicling the lives and problems of ordinary people. His most famous piece of this period is Marty, about the love affair between two homely people, which became an Oscar-winning film in 1955. Bronx-born and college educated, he attempted a career as a stand-up comic before military service, and began writing when wounded out of the army. The most acclaimed of his Broadway plays is The Tenth Man (1959), drawing on Jewish mythology, but he found his wider audience through Hollywood, notably with original screenplays for The Hospital (1971) and Network (1976), both of which won him Academy Awards and revealed that he had broadened his scope into angry satire. He controversially withdrew his name from the 1980 film of his novel Altered States (1978), which he had adapted himself, and died a year later.

—Robyn Karney

Further Reading:

Considine, Shaun. Mad as Hell: The Life and Work of Paddy Chayefsky. New York, Random House, 1994.

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