Irwin Lawrence "Paul" Mazursky (April 25, 1930 – June 30, 2014) was an American film director, screenwriter, and actor. Known for his dramatic comedies that often dealt with modern social issues, he was nominated for five Academy Awards: three times for Best Original Screenplay, once for Best Adapted Screenplay, and once for Best Picture for An Unmarried Woman (1978). His other films include Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), Blume in Love (1973), Harry and Tonto (1974), Moscow on the Hudson (1984), and Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986).
Mazursky in 2008
Irwin Lawrence Mazursky
April 25, 1930
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||June 30, 2014 (aged 84)|
|Alma mater||Brooklyn College|
Early life and educationEdit
He was born in to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Jean (née Gerson), a piano player for dance classes, and David Mazursky, a laborer. Mazursky's grandfather was an immigrant from Ukraine. Mazursky graduated from Brooklyn College in 1951.
Mazursky began his film career as an actor in Stanley Kubrick's first feature, Fear and Desire (1953). Kubrick asked for verification of his name for the credits and at that point he decided on a first-name change to Paul. Two years later he appeared in a featured position as one of a classroom of teenagers with issues towards authority in The Blackboard Jungle (1955). His acting career continued for several decades, starting with parts in episodes of television series such as The Twilight Zone and The Rifleman.
Mazursky appeared in supporting roles or cameos in most of his own films. In Moon over Parador (1988), with the Rio Opera House available for only three days of shooting, Mazursky cast himself as a dictator's mother when Judith Malina was unavailable, playing the character in drag.
Mazursky also played supporting roles in The Other Side of the Wind (1972; finished 2015), A Star Is Born (1976), History of the World Part I (1981), Into the Night (1985), Punchline (1988), Man Trouble (1992), Carlito's Way (1993), Love Affair (1994), 2 Days in the Valley (1996), Miami Rhapsody (1995), Crazy in Alabama (1999), and I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With (2006). He also performed the voice of the Psychologist in Antz (1998).
In later years, Mazursky had a small part as "Sunshine" the poker dealer in The Sopranos. He also appeared in five episodes of season 4 of Curb Your Enthusiasm as Mel Brooks' associate Norm, a role that he later reprised in a season 7 episode.
Writing and directingEdit
Soon after starting his acting career, Mazursky became a writer and worked on The Danny Kaye Show in 1963. In 1965, he collaborated with Larry Tucker in crafting the script of the original pilot of The Monkees television series, in which they both also appeared in cameos.
Mazursky's debut as a film screenplay writer was the Peter Sellers comedy I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968). The following year he directed his first film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (produced and written by Mazursky and Larry Tucker), which proved to be a major critical and commercial success. The film was the fifth highest grossing of the year and earned Mazursky his first Oscar nomination.
His career behind the camera continued for the next two decades as he wrote and directed a prolific string of quirky, dramatic and critically popular films. His most successful films were contemporary dramatic comedies and include the Academy Award-winning Harry and Tonto (1974), the Best Picture-nominated An Unmarried Woman (1978), and popular hits such as Moscow on the Hudson (1984) and Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986). In light of his comedies that tackled a number of modern social subjects, The Hollywood Reporter stated that "from the late '60s through the '80s, [he] seemed to channel the zeitgeist..." and Variety stated that "his oeuvre smacks of cultural significance."
Other films made by Mazursky during this time include the Hollywood satire Alex in Wonderland (1970), the cutting Los Angeles relationship comedy Blume in Love (1973), the semi-autobiographical coming of age story Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976), the New York City-based Jules and Jim homage Willie & Phil (1980), the contemporary Shakespeare comedy Tempest (1982), the Caribbean-set political farce Moon over Parador (1988), and the acclaimed Isaac Bashevis Singer adaptation Enemies, a Love Story (1989).
Film critic Roger Ebert was a particular fan of Mazursky's work, giving six of his films the optimal four stars in his reviews. In 1986, Ebert stated that "Mazursky has a way of making comedies that are more intelligent and relevant than most of the serious films around."
Mazursky experienced less success in the 1990s, beginning with Scenes from a Mall (1991), starring Woody Allen and Bette Midler. Following his filmmaking satire The Pickle (1993), which was his last writing credit, Mazursky worked only sporadically as a director on such films as Faithful (1996), Winchell (1998), and Coast to Coast (2003). His final film was the independent documentary Yippee (2006).
Every film written and directed by Mazursky used New York City or Los Angeles as one of its settings. In 1991 the Los Angeles Times commented that "No filmmaker has been wiser or funnier about the L.A. cavalcade than Mazursky. It’s not simply a matter of being hip to the scene; what makes such L.A. movies as Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and Alex in Wonderland and Blume in Love and Down and Out in Beverly Hills soar is Mazursky’s wide-eyed infatuation with the city’s rampant pop nuttiness."
His films received a total of twelve Academy Award nominations, with one win, and nineteen Golden Globe nominations, with two wins.
In his autobiography Show Me the Magic (1999), Mazursky recounts his experiences in filmmaking and with several well-known screen personalities including Peter Sellers.
Mazursky received five Academy Award nominations, four for his screenplay writing on Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), Harry and Tonto (1974), An Unmarried Woman (1978) and Enemies, a Love Story (1989), and once as producer of An Unmarried Woman (nominated for Best Picture). He was also twice nominated for a Golden Globe and twice for the Cannes Film Festival's Palm d'Or, among many other awards.
In 2000, he was the recipient of the Austin Film Festival's Distinguished Screenwriter Award.
In 2000, he was awarded the Amicus Poloniae (Latin: "Friend of Poland"),which is a distinction, established by the Polish ambassador to the United States and conferred annually to the citizens of the United States for merits in the field of Polish-American relations.
In 2010, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association honored him with an award for Career Achievement.
On December 13, 2013, Mazursky was awarded the 2,515th star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in front of Musso & Frank Grill. Friends and collaborators Mel Brooks, Richard Dreyfuss, and Jeff Garlin were all present.
On February 1, 2014, at the WGA Awards, Mazursky received the Screen Laurel Award, which is the lifetime achievement award of the Writers Guild of America. Comedian, filmmaker and close friend Mel Brooks presented the award.
In May 2014, Mazursky received the Best of Brooklyn Award at his alma mater Brooklyn College's annual gala in New York City.
As writer and directorEdit
As writer onlyEdit
|1966||The Monkees||TV pilot |
Co-written with Larry Tucker
|1968||I Love You, Alice B. Toklas||Feature film |
Co-written with Larry Tucker
Nominated - Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay
As director onlyEdit
|1996||Faithful||Feature film |
Written by Chazz Palminteri
Nominated- Golden Bear
|1998||Winchell||Television film |
Written by Scott Abbott
|2003||Coast to Coast||Television film |
Written by Frederic Raphael
Selected acting creditsEdit
|1953||Fear and Desire||Pvt. Sidney|
|1955||Blackboard Jungle||Emmanuel Stoker|
|1968||I Love You, Alice B. Toklas||Hippie on Sidewalk||Uncredited|
|1969||Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice||Man Screaming at the Institute||Uncredited|
|1970||Alex in Wonderland||Hal Stern|
|1972||The Other Side of the Wind||Paul||Unfinished film|
|1973||Blume in Love||Kurt Hellman|
|1974||Harry and Tonto||Prostitute||Uncredited|
|1976||Next Stop, Greenwich Village||Casting Director||Uncredited|
|1976||A Star Is Born||Brian Wexler|
|1978||An Unmarried Woman||Hal|
|1979||A Man, a Woman, and a Bank||Norman Barrie|
|1981||History of the World: Part I||Roman Officer||(The Roman Empire)|
|1984||Moscow on the Hudson||Dave|
|1985||Into the Night||Bud Herman|
|1986||Down and Out in Beverly Hills||Sidney Waxman|
|1988||Moon over Parador||Momma||Credited as Carlotta Gerson|
|1989||Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills||Sidney|
|1989||Enemies, a Love Story||Leon Tortshiner|
|1991||Scenes from a Mall||Dr. Hans Clava|
|1992||Man Trouble||Lee MacGreevy|
|1993||The Pickle||Butch Levine|
|1993||Carlito's Way||Judge Feinstein|
|1994||Love Affair||Herb Stillman|
|1995||Miami Rhapsody||Vic Marcus|
|1996||2 Days in the Valley||Teddy Peppers|
|1996||Frasier||Vinnie, calling in to show looking for pinky ring||Voice, Episode: "The Last Time I Saw Maris"|
|1998||Why Do Fools Fall in Love||Morris Levy|
|1999||Crazy in Alabama||Walter Schwegmann|
|1999-2002||Once and Again||Phil Brooks||TV Series |
|2000-2001||The Sopranos||Sunshine||TV Series |
|2001||The Majestic||Studio Executive||Voice|
|2001||Big Shot's Funeral||Studio Boss|
|2002||Do It for Uncle Manny||Famous Movie Director|
|2003||Coast to Coast||Stanley Tarto||TV movie|
|2004-2009||Curb Your Enthusiasm||Norm||TV Series |
|2006||I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With||Charlie Perlman|
|2006||Cattle Call||Judge Mandel|
|2011||Kung Fu Panda 2||Musician Bunny||Voice|
|2018||The Other Side of the Wind||Himself||(final film role)|
- Tugend, Tom Jewish Journal: "Paul Mazursky, filmmaker, 84" Archived 2015-10-08 at the Wayback Machine Jewish Journal (July 9, 2014)
- "Paul Mazursky Biography (1930-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2014-07-10.
- Variety: "Secret lunch honors Ladd" by Bob Verini September 27, 2007
- Farber, Stephen (2006-12-31). "A Night in Hollywood, a Day in Ukraine". The New York Times. Retrieved 2006-12-30.
- "Paul Mazursky: How the WGA Awards Honoree Captured the Culture". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 19, 2014.
- "Mazursky and Actors: A Love Story". Variety. Retrieved February 19, 2014.
- Emerson, Jim. "Roger Ebert on Mazursky". Rogerebert.com. Retrieved 2014-07-10.
- Ebert, Roger (1986-01-31). "Roger Ebert Review of Down and Out in Beverly Hills". Rogerebert.com. Retrieved 2014-07-10.
- Rainer, Peter (February 22, 1991). "MOVIE REVIEW : Down and Out in Beverly Center : A Slice of L.A.--Without the Bite". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
- Thompson, Anne. "RIP Paul Mazursky, Brilliant Hollywood Writer-Director". Indiewire.com. Retrieved 2014-11-22.
- Mazursky, Paul. "Paul Mazursky in Vanity Fair". Vanityfair.com. Retrieved 2014-07-10.
- Ruymen, Jim. "Paul Mazursky honored with star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles". United Press International.
- Brooklyn College Magazine. 3 (2/ Spring/Summer 2014): 36. September 2014. Missing or empty
- Walsh, Katie. "Interview: Joe Swanberg Talks Personal Filmmaking, Paul Mazursky, And The Inspiration Of 'Friday Night Lights'". Indiewire.
- Natale, Richard (1 July 2014). "Paul Mazursky, Director of 'Unmarried Woman,' Dies at 84". Variety. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
- Cheng, Cheryl (October 3, 2017). "Betsy Mazursky, Widow of Director Paul Mazursky, Dies at 90". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Farber, Stephen (2006-12-31). "A Night in Hollywood, a Day in Ukraine". The New York Times. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
I’ve always felt very Jewish but very ambivalent about being Jewish. I’m an atheist.
- Woo, Elaine (1 July 2014). "Paul Mazursky dies at 84; director chronicled trends of '60s and '70s". Latimes.com. Retrieved 10 July 2014.