George Axelrod

Active - 1954 - 2004  |   Born - Jun 9, 1922   |   Died - Jun 28, 2003   |   Genres - Comedy, Romance, Thriller

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American writer/producer/director George Axelrod cut his teeth on scores of radio and TV scripts during the postwar era. He also penned a well-received 1947 novel titled Beggar's Choice. Axelrod's specialty was the packaging of sex farce together with social satire; he thrived both on stage and on films, though for many years the film versions of his works had to be watered down to accommodate the censors. A case in point was his 1954 stage play The Seven Year Itch, in which a middle-class husband has a brief affair while his wife and children are on vacation. In the 1955 film version, starring Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe, the husband merely fantasizes about the affair, which gets no farther than a clumsy pass and a pratfall. Axelrod was represented throughout the 1950s with such stage-to-screen hits as Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and such movie originals as Phffft. Oddly, when the old censorial walls began to crumble in the 1960s, Axelrod seemed to lose his touch, and his later works seem quaintly anachronistic. The best of Axelrod's 1960s output was Lord Love a Duck (1965), a quirky lampoon of Southern California lifestyles which he wrote, produced and directed. Axelrod also had success adapting the works of other writers for the movies, as witness Bus Stop (1956), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) and The Manchurian Candidate (1962). In 1971, George Axelrod composed his wry memoirs, Where am I Now When I Need Me?, then spent the next decade or so writing screenplays in England.

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