James Lee Barrett
This prolific film and TV writer's work often reflected his Southern roots and salt-of-the earth American values. Barrett received his greatest recognition for "Shenandoah," the story of a Virginian family trying to stay out of the fighting during the Civil War. First presented as a 1965 feature film starring James Stewart, the story provided the basis for a Broadway musical starring John Cullum in 1974. Barrett won a Tony Award for the book of the latter. He began writing after a stint in the Marine Corps, selling his first teleplay, "The Awakening Land," a story of an independent pioneer woman, to producer Stanley Kramer. His first produced screenplay, "The D.I.," starred Jack Webb and focused on Marine basic training. In 1965, besides "Shenendoah," Barrett received credit for scripting "The Greatest Story Ever Told" for director George Stevens in which John Wayne played a Roman centurion supervising the crucifixion of Christ. Wayne subsequently hired Barrett to write the 1968 feature "The Green Berets," a salute to the elite forces in Vietnam. James Stewart again performed Barrett's dialogue in light western "The Cheyenne Social Club" (1970) and Burt Reynolds did the same for the raucous hit "Smokey and the Bandit" (1977).