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RIP Screenwriter and Reel Geezer Lorenzo Semple, Jr. (VIDEOS)

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by Anne Thompson
March 30, 2014 2:51 PM
1 Comment
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Lorenzo Semple, Jr.

Screenwriter Lorenzo Semple,. Jr. died Friday of natural causes at his Los Angeles home. He had just turned 91 the day before. 

Born Lorenzo Semple III in Westchester, New York, the writer's uncle was playwright Philip Barry ("The Philadelphia Story"). Semple studied at Yale before driving an ambulance in the Mideast during World War II, earning the Croix de Guerre, followed by a stint in the Army, emerging with a Bronze Star. 

He started out his career writing short stories for the Saturday Evening Post and Time, and after finishing his degree in drama at Columbia, he wrote several plays, several of which were mounted and acquired by Hollywood. 

He was mentored by TV producer Aaron Spelling ("Burke's Law"). And he created the original campy "Batman" TV series starring Adam West, which spawned a 1966 movie which he also wrote. 

Semple moved to Hollywood during "Batman," where he wrote screenplays (along with other writers) for 70s paranoid thrillers "Three Days of the Condor" and "The Parallax View" as well as "Fathom," "The Drowning Pool," "Papillon," Dino De Laurentiis' "King Kong," "Flash Gordon" and the last Sean Connery Bond film, "Never Say Never Again."

After teaching writing at NYU, well into his 80s Semple started a second career as a YouTube video film critic, as one of two refreshingly candid "Reel Geezers," with his friend, producer Marcia Nasatir. “We had such fun doing it,” Nasatir told the THR. “He was a wonderful, smart, funny guy and a great friend.” Happily I got to meet this sharp and charming man through Nasatir. 

He is survived by his wife Joyce and three children, Johanna, Lorenzo and TV writer Maria ("Mad About You," "Arrested Development"), whose novel "Where'd You Go, Bernadette" is being made into a movie.

Here's the LATimes.

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1 Comment

  • Brian | March 31, 2014 11:57 AMReply

    Just a week ago I discovered on YouTube a TV episode that Semple had written in 1958. The series was "Buckskin" and the episode was "China Boy," about prejudice against Chinese immigrants in the old west. The treatment of the Chinese characters, well played by Lisa Lu and James Hong, was completely devoid of stereotype or condescension. It was only Semple's second credit, per IMDB. I suspect there are other gems among his early TV work and I look forward to seeking them out.

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