James Prideaux, playwright and screenwriter, Died at 88

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James Prideaux was born on August 29, 1927, in Indiana, Prideaux, and died on November 20, 2015 due to a stroke.

He was an American producer, playwright and screenwriter.

James wrote and produced 1986’s Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry (in which Hepburn’s character falls in love with her Jewish doctor, played by Harold Gould), 1988’s Laura Lansing Slept Here (the actress portrays a spoiled novelist forced to live for a week with a middle-class family) and 1992’s The Man Upstairs (she befriends an escaped convict, played by Ryan O’Neal, hiding in her attic).

He received an Emmy nomination for outstanding drama/comedy special for producing Mrs. Delafield, and his memoirs, Knowing Hepburn and Other Curious Experiences, were published in 1996.

Hepburn had brought him to Hollywood to work on a screenplay, a project that was abandoned when she agreed to appear in the 1969 Broadway musical Coco.

Also in the late 1960s, James offered Hepburn the lead in his Broadway play The Last of Mrs. Lincoln, but she turned it down.

The role went to Julie Harris, who won a Tony Award for playing Mary Todd Lincoln in her widowed years, and Harris also starred in a 1976 telefilm based on Prideaux’s play.

James teamed again with Harris (and Geraldine Page) on Broadway in 1980’s Mixed Couples.

James also penned the 1978 telefilm Return Engagement, starring Elizabeth Taylor, and Lyndon, a one-man play about President Lyndon B. Johnson that starred Laurence Luckinbill in a telefilm version.

A native of Indiana, Prideaux came to New York to pursue an acting career but ended up writing short stories for Ladies’ Home Journal and Playboy.

James became a member of off-off Broadway’s Playwrights Unit, created by Edward Albee, Richard Barr and Clinton Wilder, and his first play, Postcards, had the rare distinction of going from off-off Broadway to off-Broadway and then to Broadway.

James passed away at age 88 in November 2015.


 

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