Julian Barry, whose 1971 Broadway play and 1974 film, each titled Lenny and telling the story of legendary comedian Lenny Bruce, died Tuesday at his residence in Beverly Hills. He was 92.
His dying was reported to The New York Instances by his daughter Julia Barry, who mentioned he died in his sleep and had been underneath medical look after congestive coronary heart failure and late-stage kidney illness.
Though most generally identified for his extremely influential Bruce tasks, which earned appreciable approval for the author and his title stars — Cliff Gorman on stage, Dustin Hoffman on display — Barry’s profession prolonged to different tasks that caught the general public’s consideration of their day. He wrote Rhinoceros, the 1974 movie adaptation of Eugène Ionesco’s play starring Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel, a film that has grown considerably in esteem since its preliminary crucial dismissal, and the 1978 Faye Dunaway automobile Eyes of Laura Mars, which has not.
Launching his profession within the Fifties as a stage actor and stage supervisor, Barry quickly had a not significantly promising begin in tv: two episodes in 1966 of The Wackiest Ship within the Military and certainly one of Mission: Unattainable the identical 12 months.
Nonetheless, Hollywood was piqued, and in 1969 Barry was commissioned by Columbia Photos to put in writing a biopic on Bruce, the troubled comic who had died of a drug overdose three years earlier. The venture fell via, and Barry moved on to Rhinoceros.
However unwilling to surrender on Lenny simply but, Barry approached Hair director Tom O’Horgan about staging it as a play. Barry tailored his screenplay for the stage, and the play — which, like the following movie, made use of precise transcripts from Bruce’s routines — grew to become a Broadway hit. Gorman gained the Tony for his efficiency because the comedian, changing into one of many few solid members of the controversial The Boys within the Band movie to seek out rapid follow-up success.
Barry then went to work adapting the play, which had been tailored from a screenplay, for the Hollywood model. Hoffman was solid as Bruce and Valerie Perrine as Honey Bruce, with Bob Fosse directing. The movie was praised by critics and acquired six Oscar nominations, together with for Greatest Image, Barry’s screenplay, Fosse’s path, the performances of Hoffman and Perrine and Bruce Surtees’ stark black-and-white cinematography.
The movie left the 1975 awards ceremony empty-handed, although, comprehensible in an impossibly aggressive 12 months that included Chinatown, The Godfather Half II and Alice Doesn’t Reside Right here Anymore.
Whereas Barry wouldn’t hit these heights once more, he continued writing films till 1992’s Me Myself and I starring George Segal and JoBeth Williams. Different credit embrace 1984’s The River, with Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek, and the 1991 TV film A Marriage: Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz with Jane Alexander and Christopher Plummer.
Barry himself conceded that his profession by no means returned to Lenny ranges. In response to The New York Instances, he took full accountability, blaming himself for turning right into a typical “Hollywood phony” and as soon as recalling a disastrous assembly with Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack. Trying to ascertain his Hollywood hip bona fides, Barry lit up a joint, which most undoubtedly didn’t impress Redford or Pollack. Because the Instances recounts, Barry later recalled, “I had to live up to my reputation as the man who wrote about Lenny Bruce.”
Barry is survived by his companion, Samantha Harper Macy; daughters Julia (from his marriage to movie producer Laura Ziskin), Sally and Jennifer Barry; son Michael Barry; and different prolonged household.