Lorenzo Semple Jr.
Although he was responsible for the scripts of cult favorite movies such as "Papillon" (1973) and "Pretty Poison" (1968), Lorenzo Semple Jr. was best remembered as the head writer of the campy 1960s television series ... Read more »
Although he was responsible for the scripts of cult favorite movies such as "Papillon" (1973) and "Pretty Poison" (1968), Lorenzo Semple Jr. was best remembered as the head writer of the campy 1960s television series "Batman" (ABC 1966-68). Semple effectively retired by the 1990s, but his works remained high enough in the public consciousness that the Writers Guild of America hailed him as a Living Legend in September 2008. Born Lorenzo Elliott Semple III on March 27, 1923 in Mount Kisco, New York, he pursued a career as a writer, much like his uncle Philip Barry, who wrote the hugely successful play (later turned into a hit film) "The Philadelphia Story." After abandoning Yale to serve in the military, Semple finished his degree at Columbia University and quickly began writing for magazines and penning his own plays. One of them, "Golden Fleecing," became a Broadway production in 1959. Semple tried to break through in television when he teamed up with producer William Dozier to come up with a new idea for a TV series. But it was not until a few years later when Dozier approached Semple to develop a television series based on the popular DC Comics character Batman. Starring Adam West as the Caped Crusader, "Batman" was a bona fide hit and quickly became part of the 1960s cultural zeitgeist. Unlike the dark, serious films that were made many years later, Semple's "Batman" was campy, satirical, and colorful. Semple used the success of "Batman" to leap into films. One of his first feature film screenplays was the spy comedy "Fathom" (1967), which starred sex symbol Raquel Welch. In the following year, Semple wrote the screenplay for "Pretty Poison," which starred Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld. Other movies he wrote the screenplay for included the Steve McQueen prison escape drama "Papillon," "The Parallax View" (1974), and the political thriller "Three Days of the Condor." In 1976, Semple penned an updated remake of the classic monster movie "King Kong," a widely-panned flop. Other comparative missteps included Sean Connery's unsanctioned return as James Bond in "Never Say Never Again" (1983) and the universally-panned "Sheena" (1984). Based on the 1930s comic book heroine, "Sheena" infamously bombed in theaters and was nominated for five Razzie Awards. In the age of online media, Semple teamed up with former agent and producer Marcia Nasatir and formed their own YouTube channel called Reel Geezers, where the two provided insightful and hilarious review of the latest movies. On March 28, 2014 Semple died of natural causes in his home at Los Angeles, California, just one day after his 91st birthday. Although he had not written a script in several decades prior to his death, Lorenzo Semple, Jr. was remembered as a fine screenwriter who shaped the images of some of entertainment's most recognizable cultural icons.