Research Guru / Moderator
Feb 24, 2011, 10:14 PM
Author, playwright and screenwriter Max Wilk, co-writer of the screenplay for the 1977 Fox-distributed animated feature film Raggedy Ann And Andy, died Saturday at his Saugatuck Shores home in Westport, Connecticut. He was 90.
"Raggedy Ann and Andy" writer Max Wilk dead at 90
During several years living in London in the 1960s, he became involved with the Beatles' Yellow Submarine project and was commissioned to write the novelization of the film.
Wilk was a long time dramaturg for the National Playwrights Conference. His work with the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center spanned nearly three decades.
While at the O'Neill, Wilk helped both emerging and established playwrights refine their plays, working with some of modern theater's top luminaries, including Pulitzer Prize winners August Wilson and John Patrick Shanley, Lee Blessing, OyamO, James Yoshimura, Jeffrey Hatcher, Wendy McLeod, Doug Wright, Willy Holtzman, Judy GeBauer, Charles Shulman, Sam Hunter, Ursula Rani Sarma and Lucy Caldwell.
"Max loved the O'Neill and he loved show business. He was smart and sassy and blunt," said conference director Amy Saltz. "He had great knowledge and experience, both of which he was anxious to share.
"I was at the O'Neill for 17 summers, and he was there every year and long after, helping writers, offering support, and demanding the best of everyone. He made an indelible impression and will be missed."
Said executive director Preston Whiteway: "Max will remain a legend at the O'Neill always. His intelligence, wit and friendship shaped the O'Neill and the National Playwrights Conference for decades, impacting hundreds of playwrights and the American theater itself. I will miss Max holding court on the porch, and his insights, which were invariably correct."
Added longtime friend Skip Mercier, scenic and costume designer for the NPC and instructor at the National Theater institute: "In typical Max form, plagued with growing dementia for his last week, he told me how hard it was not to have any ideas. Then his eyes got wide and he said: 'You know all the pictures on the wall in my study?' (Many friends covered his walls, most deceased and famous). I nodded.
"'Well, they are all in train windows -- there's a train just behind the walls, you know. It's waiting for me, but I don't know where it's going! I hope it's fun.' Then we sang "Minnie the Mermaid." To the end, he was creative, funny, and with a unique take on life and whatever is beyond."
Born in 1920, Wilk graduated from the Yale School of Drama in 1941. Following his graduation, he toured with Irving Berlin's This is the Army and wrote training films in the First Motion Picture Unit AAF.
After the Second World War, Wilk lived in New York City, and later in Ridgefield, Connecticut. He continued his career as as a playwright and scriptwriter, writing for all types of media. He was author of three Broadway shows: Small Wonder in 1948-49, Cloud 7 in 1958, and A Musical Jubilee in 1975-76.
Wilk was also the author of Mr. Williams and Ms. Wood, which he adapted for the stage from his book Represented by Audrey Wood, which he co-wrote with Audrey Wood. Additionally, Wilk authored They're Playing Our Song: The Truth
Behind the Words and Music of Three Generations, OK! The Story Of Oklahoma!: A Celebration of America's Most Beloved Musical, and The Golden Age of Television: Notes from the Survivors among many others.
In 2004, he explored the history of screenwriting in the book Schmucks with Underwoods: Conversations with America’s Classic Screenwriters.
In 2008, he promoted an updated edition of They're Playing Our Song. Speaking of those he interviewed and knew over the years, he said, "I think I should have paid for the privilege of interviewing the people in my book." He added: "Stephen Sondheim and I are the only two left who are in my original book."
Wilk won both an Emmy and Peabody award for his two-hour 1960 TV show The Fabulous Fifties. Overall, he was the author of 19 books, four films, three produced plays, and countless TV shows and magazine articles.
Max Wilk was predeceased by his wife, artist Barbara Wilk. He is survived by his three children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
A memorial service to celebrate the life of Max Wilk is currently being planned by the family in Westport for April. The O'Neill is planning a gathering during its summer season.
[Via Playbill --
http://www.playbill.com/...Dramaturg-Dead-at-90, Westport Now --
(This post was edited by eminovitz on Feb 24, 2011, 10:15 PM)