Bill Gunn was an important figure in the development of contemporary African American cinema. A versatile figure, Gunn also made substantial contributions to the theater, television and literature. His best-known film is Ganja and Hess, a passionate, lyrical vampire movie that blended African and European mythology. While it is considered one of the major films of the early 1970s, it was unfortunately hacked up by producers for American release and its haunting African soundtrack was replaced by a homogenized American one, thereby destroying much of what made the film special. Gunn started out as an actor in the 1950s, and by mid-decade, he was appearing on Broadway. In 1960, he wrote his first play, Murder in the High Grass, and became known as one of the most important black playwrights in American theater. During the '60s, Gunn occasionally appeared on television series, and also wrote novels, screenplays and teleplays. In 1972, Gunn won an Emmy for writing the script to Johannas. From the late '70s through the early '80s, Gunn worked on Personal Problems, an unaired television series.