Norman Wexler

Screenwriter, Playwright, Worked in advertising
While his output as a screenwriter was hardly prolific (due in part to his struggle with manic depression), Norman Wexler contributed to a handful of films that provided strong roles for leading men and have come to be ... Read more »
Born: 08/16/1926 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, USA

Filmography

Writer (7)

Raw Deal 1986 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Staying Alive 1983 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Saturday Night Fever 1977 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Drum 1976 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Mandingo 1975 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Serpico 1974 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Joe 1970 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Biography

While his output as a screenwriter was hardly prolific (due in part to his struggle with manic depression), Norman Wexler contributed to a handful of films that provided strong roles for leading men and have come to be considered by some critics as "modern classics" from the 1970s. The New England native, who marked time working in advertising in the 1950s and 60s while writing plays, struck pay dirt with his first produced effort, "Joe" (1970), a dark look at bigotry and violence that showcased the talents of Peter Boyle in the title role. While some found the plot a bit contrived (a button-downed type commits a murder and confesses it to a stranger with whom he forms an unlikely friendship), others were impressed with its spleen-venting attack on small-mindedness. Wexler earned an Oscar nod for his script and his Hollywood career took off in earnest. He shared writing duties on "Serpico" (1973) with Waldo Salt and the pair were rewarded with an Academy Award nomination for their superb adaptation of Peter Maas' nonfiction look at an undercover cop exposing corruption within the ranks of the NYPD. Finely realized by Sidney Lumet, the film also provided actor Al Pacino with a tour de force role, one of the best in his career.

Relationships

Erica Wexler

Daughter
survived him

Merin Wexler

Daughter
survived him

EDUCATION

Harvard University

Cambridge , Massachusetts 1948

Milestones

1997

Moved to Washington, DC

1996

Play "Forgive Me, Forgive Me Not" staged in L.A.

1986

Final produced screenplay "Raw Deal", starring Arnold Schwarzenneger

1983

Scripted "Stayin' Alive", a sequel to "Saturday Night Fever"; also served as assistant director; director Sylvester Stallone "improved" on the script and received credit as co-author

1977

Rebounded with the screenplay of "Saturday Night Fever"

1973

With Waldo Salt, received credit for screenplay adaptation of "Serpico"; garnered second Oscar nomination

1972

Arrested and jailed for making threats against then President Richard M Nixon

1969

First produced script, "Joe", starring Peter Boyle; received first Academy Award nomination

1951

Moved to NYC

Worked in advertising while writing plays, several of which were staged in NYC and at regional theaters

Wrote the overheated "Mandigo" (1975) and its sequel "Drum" (1976)

Raised in Detroit, Michigan

Moved to Hollywood

Bonus Trivia

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A stage version of "Saturday Night Fever" with a book by Nan Knighton based on Wexler's screenplay opened in London in 1998 and on Broadway in 1999.

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