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Segal, Erich


SEGAL, ERICH (1937– ), U.S. novelist. Born in Brooklyn, n.y., the son of a rabbi, Erich Wolf Segal attended Harvard University, graduating as both the class poet and Latin salutatorian. He also obtained his master's and doctorate from Harvard. While a professor of comparative literature at Yale University in 1967, Segal wrote the screenplay for the Beatles' wildly successful animated feature film Yellow Submarine. He collaborated on other screenplays and tried to sell a romantic story he wrote about two students attending Harvard. It failed to sell, but his literary agent suggested he turn the script into a novel. The result was a literary and motion picture phenomenon, Love Story (1970), starring Ali McGraw and Ryan O'Neal. It tells the story of two college students: Oliver, the emotionally vacant son of rich parents, and the Italian-American Radcliffe girl he falls in love with, Jenny. The film is considered one of the most romantic of all time. Its catchphrase is "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Another famous quote is "What can you say about a 25-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. The Beatles. And me." The book was the leading seller of fiction for 1970 in the United States and was translated into more than 20 languages. The movie of the same name was the No. 1 box-office attraction of 1971 and won Academy Award nominations for best picture, best actor, actress, supporting actor, director, and original screenplay, by Segal. Ironically, its success virtually destroyed Segal's academic credibility with his colleagues. Segal went on to write more novels and screenplays, including a sequel to Love Story, called Oliver's Story (1977). He also published a number of scholarly works and taught at the college level. His books include The Comedy of Plautus (1968), Doctors (1988), The Death of Comedy (2001), and Oxford Readings in Greek Tragedy (2001).

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

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