Mazursky at 43rd KVIFF, 2008
April 25, 1930
Brooklyn, New York
|Occupation||film director, screenplay writer, actor|
|Spouse(s)||Betsy (Purdy) Mazursky (?–present)|
He was born Irwin Mazursky in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Jean (née Gerson), a piano player for dance classes, and David Mazursky, a laborer. Mazursky was born to a Jewish family; his grandfather was an immigrant from Ukraine. He graduated from Brooklyn College in 1951. Mazursky is an atheist.
Mazursky is married to Betsy (Purdy) Mazursky.
Mazursky made his film debut as an actor in Stanley Kubrick's first feature, Fear and Desire, in which he changed his first name to Paul, and later appeared as a juvenile delinquent in the 1955 film The Blackboard Jungle. He soon became a writer and worked on The Danny Kaye Show in 1963. In 1965, he collaborated with Larry Tucker in crafting the script of the original pilot of The Monkees television series, in which they both also appeared in cameos.
His acting career has continued for several decades, starting with television work in episodes of The Twilight Zone and The Rifleman. He has played supporting roles in A Star Is Born (1976), History of the World Part I (1981), Into the Night (1985), Punchline (1988), Man Trouble (1992), Carlito's Way (1993), Love Affair (1994), 2 Days in the Valley (1996), Miami Rhapsody (1995), and Crazy in Alabama (1999). He also performed the voice of the Psychologist in Antz (1998).
Mazursky's debut as a film screenplay writer was the Peter Sellers comedy I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968). The following year he directed his first film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (produced by Larry Tucker). His career behind the camera would continue for the next two decades as he would direct an impressive string of quirky, dramatic and critically popular films including Alex in Wonderland (1970), Blume in Love (1973), Harry and Tonto (1974), the autobiographical Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976), An Unmarried Woman (1978), Willie & Phil (1980), Tempest (1982), Moscow on the Hudson (1984), Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), Moon Over Parador (1988), Enemies, a Love Story (1989) and Scenes from a Mall (1991).
Following his filmmaking satire The Pickle (1993), Mazursky has worked only sporadically as a director on such films as Faithful (1996), Winchell (1998), Coast to Coast (2003) and most recently the documentary Yippee (2006).
In his autobiography "Show Me the Magic" (1999), he recounts his experiences in filmmaking and with several well-known screen personalities including Peter Sellers.
Mazursky has appeared as himself in a number of documentaries on film, including A Decade Under the Influence, New York at the Movies and Screenwriters: Words Into Image. In Moon Over Parador, with the Rio Opera House available for only three days of shooting, Mazursky cast himself as a dictator's mother when Judith Malina was unavailable, playing the character in drag.
In recent years, Mazursky had a small part as "Sunshine" the poker dealer in The Sopranos. He also appeared in five episodes of season 4 of Curb Your Enthusiasm as Mel Brooks' associate Norm; he later reprised the role in a season 7 episode.
Mazursky has received five Academy Award nominations, four for his screenplay writing on Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), Harry and Tonto (1974), An Unmarried Woman (1978) and Enemies, a Love Story (1989), and once as producer of An Unmarried Woman (nominated for Best Picture). In 2000, he was the recipient of the Austin Film Festival's Distinguished Screenwriter Award.
- Paul Mazursky Biography (1930-)
- Farber, Stephen (2006-12-31). "A Night in Hollywood, a Day in Ukraine". The New York Times. Retrieved 2006-12-30.
- Farber, Stephen (2006-12-31). "A Night in Hollywood, a Day in Ukraine". The New York Times. Retrieved 2006-12-31. "I’ve always felt very Jewish but very ambivalent about being Jewish. I’m an atheist."