A consistently effective scenarist, Axelrod wrote often witty and always acute examinations of American social mores that produced several superior films of the 1950s and 60s. After serving in the Army Signal Corps during World War II, The New York-born Axelrod found work writing scripts for radio programs, including "The Shadow," "Midnight" and "Grand Ole Opry," eventually branching into television. He said he contributed to or collaborated on more than 400 TV and radio scripts, and wrote for a number of top comedians, including Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin before earning breakout success with his 1954 stage version of "The Seven Year Itch," a risque social satire about a middle-class man who has an affair while his wife and children are on vacation. The play was a hit on Broadway but was deemed not ready for a mainstream audience the following year when it was made into a film directed by Billy wilder and starring Marilyn Monroe. The plot was watered-down with the husband (Tom Ewell) only fantasizing about having an affair.