Frank Perry

Active - 1942 - 1993  |   Born - Aug 21, 1930 in New York City, NY  |   Died - Aug 30, 1995   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy

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American director Frank Perry went to work for the Westport Country Playhouse as a teenager, albeit in the capacity of parking lot attendant. Perry eventually worked his way up to producer at the Playhouse, beginning a show business career that would extend into the 1990s, interrupted only by Korean War service. After putting in time as a TV documentary producer, Perry directed the 1962 film David and Lisa, a location-shot drama about two emotionally disturbed teenagers in a mental institution. Thanks to the attractiveness of stars Keir Dullea and Janet Margolin, David and Lisa developed a following among teens and young adults, making Perry quite bankable in Hollywood. Perry's second film, the low-budget Ladybug Ladybug (1962), was a study of how a false nuclear attack announcement would effect otherwise normal people -- a disturbingly prescient premise, given the subsquent Cuban Missile Crisis. The Swimmer (1968), based on a John Cheever story, was a somewhat surrealistic drama that followed a wealthy suburbanite (Burt Lancaster), who witnesses his life deteriorating as he travels from swimming pool to swimming pool in his exclusive Connecticut neighborhood. Many of Perry's works were similarly concentrated character studies, notably Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970) and Play it as It Lays (1972). Somehow or other, Perry's work has since devolved from sensitivy to sensationalism, notably with his campy interpretations of the notorious Mommie Dearest (1981) and the phlegmatic "sinning clergy" epic Monsignor (1982). For many years, Frank Perry worked in collaboration with his wife, the late writer/producer Eleanor Perry. They separated in 1970 and went off to their own individual projects.

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