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Frank Pierson Passes Away at 87


Oscar-winning screenwriter Frank Pierson died Sunday in Los Angeles of natural causes following a short illness. (Photo: ©A.M.P.A.S.)

Oscar-winning screenwriter Frank Pierson passed away Sunday in Los Angeles at the age of 87 following a short illness.

A three-time Academy Award nominee, Pierson won an Oscar for his original screenplay of Dog Day Afternoon. He received nominations for Cat Ballou and Cool Hand Luke. Pierson’s writing credits also include Presumed Innocent and A Star Is Born, which he also directed.

Pierson was currently working as writer and consulting producer on the Emmy Award-winning drama Mad Men and had served the same duties on numerous episodes of The Good Wife.

Pierson was president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 2001-2005 and had served as Governor of the Writers Branch for 17 years. In addition, Pierson served as president of the Writers Guild of America, West for two separate terms (1981–1983, 1993–1995).

Pierson also served on boards for the Los Angeles Theater Center, Artists Rights Foundation and Humanitas. In addition, he sat on the board of governors at the American Film Institute, serving as AFI’s co-artistic director and conducting the school’s Narrative Workshop first-year core curriculum. He was also a faculty member of the Sundance Institute, as well as a lecturer at USC. In 2005, Pierson was the recipient of the Humanitas Prize’s Kieser Award.

“Young rock ‘n’ rollers always look to the old bluesmen as models of how to keep their art strong and rebellious into older years,” said Phil Robinson, Academy Governor (Writers Branch). “For screenwriters, Frank has been our old blues master for a long time. From great, great movies like Cat Ballou, Cool Hand Luke and Dog Day Afternoon, to his joining the writing staffs of The Good Wife and Mad Men well past his 80th birthday, he’s always shown us – better than anyone else – how to do it with class, grace, humor, strength, brilliance, generosity and a joyful tenacity.”

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

There will be a private funeral for the family this week. A public memorial will be planned in the near future.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Stand Up to Cancer organization:

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