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Obit: Screenwriter Frank Pierson Fought Against the Impoverishment of Film Language

Thompson on Hollywood By Aljean Harmetz | Thompson on Hollywood July 23, 2012 at 7:04PM

Frank Pierson, who won an Academy Award for his screenplay of “Dog Day Afternoon” in 1975, was nominated for two other Oscars, and then turned himself into an Emmy-winning director, died Monday in Los Angeles at the age of 87 after a short illness.

For decades, as leader of the American Film Institute Conservatory Narrative Workshop, Pierson moderated sessions where teams of filmmakers presented their work to other AFI Fellows. His only rule: the filmmakers could not speak. "They were there to listen and learn," writes AFI chief Bob Gazzale in an email. "Frank led these gatherings with an iron fist and an open heart – challenging and inspiring a new generation to make movies – and always, to reach for more."

Born on May 12, 1925 in Chappaqua, New York and a graduate of Harvard University, Pierson got his first Hollywood break as script editor on the TV series, “Have Gun Will Travel.”  His movie credits as a writer include “Presumed Innocent” and “King of the Gypsies,” which he also directed.

He is survived by his wife, Helene, two children – Michael and Eve – and five grandchildren.

This article is related to: Stuck In Love, AFI, Obit

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