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Budd Schulberg, RIP

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Budd Schulberg, novelist, screenwriter (and HUAC songbird, alas) has died at age ninety-five.

Mr. Schulberg, the son of a movie executive born in New York, rose to fame in the 40’s and 50’s with a succession of award-winning books and screenplays, most notably his novels “What Makes Sammy Run” (1941) and “The Harder They Fall” (1947), and the film “A Face in the Crowd” (1957). But it was “On the Waterfront” that Mr. Schulberg was best known for.

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A nice appreciation in the Times.

For years I opened public presentations on Budd Schulberg’s life and times by noting that he was a close personal friend of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’d pause, then remind audiences that F. Scott Fitz died in…1940. That fact often drew gasps or knowing smiles. But then, just a few moments ago, mourning Budd’s death in conversation with my L.A. cousin (more like brother) the screenwriter Bob Fisher, I was given a much more powerful image with which to convey the magnitude of Budd’s gift and prowess. “Budd,” as Bobby reminded me, “was close personal friends with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Spike Lee.” Budd and Spike worked intermittently for years on a Joe Louis film bio. Budd knew Joe Louis.

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I read 'What Makes Sammy Run?' a few years ago, thoroughly enjoyed it. One of the best novels about the movie industry, I think it was supposed to be based on Jerry Wald, the producer.

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What Makes Sammy Run? is indeed a good read. Schulberg wasn't the world's most subtle writer, but it's a great snapshot of Hollywood at that place and time.

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