September 29, 1942
|Died||July 1, 1996
Sydney, Nova Scotia
Stojan Steve Tesich (Serbian: Стојан Стив Тешић, Stojan Stiv Tešić; September 29, 1942 – July 1, 1996) was a Serbian-American screenwriter, playwright and novelist. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1979 for the movie Breaking Away.
Steve Tesich was born as Stojan Tešić (Serbian: Стојан Тешић, pronounced Tesh-ich) in Užice, Yugoslavia (now Serbia) on September 29, 1942, but immigrated to the USA in 1957 with his family when he was 14 years old. His father died in 1962.
His family settled in East Chicago, Indiana. Tesich graduated from Indiana University in 1965 with a BA in Russian, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. He went on to do graduate work at Columbia University, receiving an MA in Russian Literature in 1967. He also wrote his first plays while at Columbia University. After graduation, he worked as a Department of Welfare caseworker in Brooklyn, New York in 1968.
He had been an alternate rider in 1962 for the Phi Kappa Psi team in the Little 500 bicycle race. His teammate was Dave Blase, who rode 139 of 200 laps and was the victory rider crossing the finish line for his team. They subsequently developed a friendship. Dave Blase was the model for the main character in Tesich's award-winning screenplay Breaking Away in 1979.
At a special screening of the 1985 cycling movie American Flyers starring Kevin Costner and Rae Dawn Chong in 1985, Tesich told the audience: “Many of you are better cyclists than I ever was, but I love this sport as much as anyone."
His play Division Street opened on Broadway in 1980 starring John Lithgow and Keene Curtis and was revived in 1987. The 1980 production of Division Street played at the Ambassador Theatre in New York City. The production opened on October 8, 1980 and closed after 21 performances. Frank Rich reviewed the 1987 revival in the New York Times.
After achieving critical and box office success writing for both stage and screen in the 1970s and 1980s, he died following a heart attack at the age of 53 in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada on July 1, 1996.
His novel Karoo was published posthumously in 1998. Arthur Miller described the novel: "Fascinating—a real satiric invention full of wise outrage.” The novel was a New York Times Notable Book for 1998. The novel also appeared in a German translation as Abspann, and it was also translated in France in 2012 where it was acclaimed by the critics and became a best-seller 
Honors and awards
Steve Tesich won the following awards for the Breaking Away screenplay in 1979, whose original working title was Bambino:
- National Society of Film Critics Award, Best Screenplay
- New York Film Critics Circle Award, Best Screenplay
- Oscar, Best Original Screenplay
- Writers Guild of America Award, Best-Written Comedy Written Directly for the Screen
- Screenwriter of the Year, ALFS Award from the London Critics Circle Film Awards, 1981
Steve Tesich also received a nomination in 1980 for a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay-Motion Picture. The movie Breaking Away won the 1980 Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture-Musical/Comedy.
The screenplay to the movie was also published in book form as Breaking Away, 1979 (St. Martin's Original Screenplay Series). As a movie tie-in, a novelization of the screenplay was also published in 1979 by Warner Books in New York written by Joseph Howard based on the screenplay by Steve Tesich.
In 1973, Tesich won the Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Playwright for the play Baba Goya, which is also known under the title Nourish the Beast.
In 2005, the Serbian Ministry for diaspora established the annual Stojan—Steve Tešić Award, to be awarded to the writers of Serbian origin that write in other languages.
- Breaking Away (1979), Academy Award winner, Best Original Screenplay, directed by Peter Yates, starring Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley, Barbara Barrie, Paul Dooley, and Hart Bochner
- Eyewitness (1981), directed by Peter Yates, starring William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Plummer, James Woods, and Morgan Freeman
- Four Friends (1981), directed by Arthur Penn, starring Craig Wasson, Jodi Thelen, Michael Huddleston, and Jim Metzler
- The World According to Garp (1982), based on the John Irving novel, directed by George Roy Hill, starring Robin Williams, Glenn Close, Mary Beth Hurt, John Lithgow, Hume Cronyn, and Jessica Tandy
- American Flyers (1985), starring Kevin Costner and Rae Dawn Chong
- Eleni (1985), based on the Nicholas Gage book, directed by Peter Yates, starring John Malkovich, Kate Nelligan, and Linda Hunt
- Breaking Away, television series, 1980-1981, "The Cutter" and "La Strada" episodes. The series received nominations for two Primetime Emmys, for cinematography and for acting
- Apple Pie, television series, 1978
- Nourish the Beast, play for television, 1974, directed by Norman Lloyd, starring Eileen Brennan as Baba Goya and John Randolph as Mario
- The Carpenters, play for television, 1974, directed by Norman Lloyd, starring Vincent Gardenia and Joseph Hardy
- The Carpenters, 1970, first produced by the American Place Theatre, New York
- Lake of the Woods, 1971
- Nourish the Beast, also performed under the title Baba Goya, Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Playwright, 1973
- Gorky, 1975
- Passing Game, 1977
- Touching Bottom, 1978
- Division Street. opened on Broadway in 1980 starring John Lithgow and Keene Curtis, revived in 1987
- The Speed Of Darkness, 1989
- Square One, 1990
- The Road, 1990
- Baptismal, 1990
- On the Open Road, 1992
- Arts & Leisure, 1996
- Summer Crossing (1982), was also published in a German translation as Ein letzter Sommer and in a French translation as Rencontre d'été
- Karoo (1996, posthumously released 1998), paperback edition in 2004 with new introduction by E. L. Doctorow; German-language version entitled Abspann and a French-language version Karoo same as original.
- Division Street & other plays. New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1981. 171 pages. Contents: Division Street -- Baba Goya -- Lake of the Woods -- Passing Game.
- "Life, it seems, is not meaningless but, rather, so full of meaning that its meaning must be constantly murdered for the sake of cohesion and comprehension. For the sake of the storyline."
- "No birth certificate is issued when friendship is born. There is nothing tangible. There is just a feeling that your life is different and that your capacity to love and care has miraculously been enlarged with out any effort on your part. It's like having a tiny apartment and somebody moves in with you. But instead of becoming cramped and crowded, the space expands, and you discover rooms you never knew you had until your friend moved in with you."
- The New York Times
- Weber, Bruce (2 July 1996). "Steve Tesich, 53, Whose Plays Plumbed the Nation's Identity". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
- Steve Tesich at the Internet Movie Database
- A Few Moments with Steve Tesich by Dejan Stojanović
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