Bill Gunn (writer)
William Harrison Gunn|
July 15, 1934
April 5, 1989 (aged 54)
|Cause of death||Encephalitis|
|Occupation||writer, director, actor|
Bill Gunn (born William Harrison Gunn; July 15, 1934 – April 5, 1989) was an American playwright, novelist, actor and film director. His 1973 cult classic horror film Ganja and Hess was chosen as one of ten best American films of the decade at the Cannes Film Festival, 1973. In the New Yorker, film critic Richard Brody described him as being "a visionary filmmaker left on the sidelines of the most ostensibly liberated period of American filmmaking." Filmmaker Spike Lee had said that Gunn is “one of the most under-appreciated filmmakers of his time.” His drama Johnnas won an Emmy award in 1972.
A native of Philadelphia, Gunn wrote more than 29 plays during his lifetime. He also authored two novels and wrote several produced screenplays. In 1950, Gunn studied acting with Mira Rostova in New York's East Village. There he met actors Montgomery Clift and James Dean. He died from encephalitis at a Nyack, New York hospital the day before his play, The Forbidden City opened at the Public Theater in New York City.
- Marcus in the High Grass (1959) - produced in New York City by Theatre Guild.
- Johnnas (1968) – produced in New York City at Chelsea Theatre.
- Black Picture Show (1975) – produced in New York City at Vivian Beaumont Theater.
- Rhinestone (musical; based on novel Rhinestone Sharecropping) (1982) – produced in New York City at Richard Allen Center.
- Family Employment (1985) – produced in New York City at The Public Theater.
- The Forbidden City (1989) – produced in New York City at The Public Theater.
- Also author of Celebration (1967) – produced in Los Angeles at Mark Taper Forum.
- Fame Game (1968), Columbia Pictures.
- Friends (1968), Universal Studios.
- Stop (1969), (never released), Warner.
- (With Ronald Ribman) The Angel Levine (1970) (adaptation of novel by Bernard Malamud), United Artists.
- Don't the Moon Look Lonesome (1970) (adaptation of novel by Don Asher), Chuck Barris Productions.
- The Landlord (1970) (adaptation of novel by Kristin Hunter), United Artists.
- Ganja and Hess (1973), Kelly-Jordan Enterprises, re-edited and released under title Blood Couple, Heritage Enterprises.
- The Greatest: The Muhammad Ali Story (1976), Columbia.
- Johnnas (1972), National Broadcasting Company (NBC).
- The Alberta Hunter Story (1982), co-writer w. Chris Albertson-never completed – Southern Pictures (UK).
- All the Rest Have Died (1964), Delacorte (New York, NY).
- Rhinestone Sharecropping (1981), Reed, Cannon, ISBN 0-918408-19-9, ISBN 978-0-918408-19-8.
Filmography (as director)
|1973||Ganja & Hess
... aka Black Evil ... aka Black Vampire (USA: video title) ... aka Blackout: The Moment of Terror ... aka Blood Couple (cut version) ... aka Double Possession ... aka Vampires of Harlem
Filmography (as actor)
|unknown||Look Up and Live (TV series)||George|
|1961||Route 66||Hank Plummer|
|Naked City (TV series)||Al Norbert|
|1962||The Defenders (TV series)||Frank Reilly|
|The Interns (TV series)||Rosco (uncredited)|
|Stoney Burke (TV series)||Bud Sutter|
|1963||Stoney Burke (TV series)||Toby|
|The Outer Limits (TV series)||Lieutenant James P. Willowmore|
|1964||The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (TV series)||Namana|
|Dr. Kildare (TV series)||Jesse Kamba, MD|
|1965||The Fugitive (TV series)||Avery|
|1973||Ganja & Hess||George Meda|
|1986||The Cosby Show (TV series)||Homer (2 episodes)|
- Harris, Brandon. "Bill Gunn Surfaces at BAM", Filmmaker Magazine. March 31, 2010. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
- Gunn, Bill. "To be a Black Artist'." New York Times (1923-Current file), May 13, 1973, pp. 121.
- Frederick, Candice (28 April 2016). "Bill Gunn: An Unsung Hero of Black Filmmaking". The New York Public Library. The New York Public Library. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
- Brody, Richard. "The Front Row: Ganja & Hess." New Yorker. Conde Nast, 16 August 2016.
- Ryfle, Steve (Fall 2018). "The Eclipsed Visions of Bill Gunn". Cineaste (4): 26–31.
- C. Gerald Fraser, "Bill Gunn, Playwright and Actor, Dies at 54 on Eve of Play Premiere", The New York Times, Friday, April 7, 1989, section D, p. 20 of the New York edition. Retrieved March 24, 2009.
- West, Malcolm R., ed. (April 24, 1989). "Playwright Bill Gunn, 59, dies on eve of premiere". Jet. Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc. 76 (3): 53.
- Anderson, Melissa. "In Two Urgent Reprints, Bill Gunn Fights for His Singularity", Village Voice, December 29, 2015.
- David, Marlo D. "'Let It Go Black': Desire and the Erotic Subject in the Films of Bill Gunn", Black Camera 2.2 (2011): 26–46.
- Ostrom, Hans. "Bill Gunn," in Hans Ostrom and J. David Macey (eds), The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature, Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishers, 2005. Volume II, 683.
- Tate, Greg. "Bill Gunn, 1934–89." Village Voice, April 25, 1989. Vol. 34, Iss. 17, p. 98.
- Williams, John. "Bill Gunn (1929–1989): A Checklist of His Films, Dramatic Works and Novels." Black American Literature Forum. 25.4 (1991): 781- (7p).
- Bill Gunn on IMDb
- Bill Gunn Papers – Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division
- Original print donated to the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.