David S. Ward

Active - 1973 - 2011  |   Born - Oct 24, 1947   |   Genres - Comedy

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Holding degrees from both U.C.L.A. and U.S.C., American filmmaker/screenwriter David S. Ward was employed at an educational film production company when he managed to sell his screenplay for The Sting (1974). Ward's Oscar win for this effort should have assured him a successful Sting afterlife. Alas, the decade following this triumph was unrelenting in its disappointments, among them Ward's maiden directorial effort, Cannery Row (1982), and the "Why bother?" belated sequel The Sting II (1983). Efforts made by Ward to sell a script based on the frontier days of California were scuttled by an industry-wide "ban" on Westerns after mammoth failure of Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate (1980). In 1986, Ward was rescued by Sting star Robert Redford, who hired the screenwriter to work on the Redford-directed The Milagro Beanfield War. The response to this project enabled Ward to sell Morgan Creek and Mirage Productions to bankroll Major League (1988), a baseball comedy that he'd been pitching to producers without success since 1982. Perhaps autobiographically, Major League and Ward's subsequent efforts as a writer and director, King Ralph (1991) and Major League II (1993), were about underdogs who triumphed over the gadflies and nay-sayers of the world. David S. Ward's later scored a box-office coup with his screenplay (in collaboration with Nora Ephron) for 1993's Sleepless in Seattle. He went back to the well directing the sequel Major League 2, and then moved onto the Navy comedy Down Periscope starring Kelsey Grammer. Another ten years would pass before Ward was credited on another film, Flyboys, a 2006 World War I drama starring James Franco directed by Tony Bill.

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