Eleanor Perry

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Eleanor Perry
Born Eleanor Rosenfeld
Cleveland, Ohio
Died March 14, 1981 (aged 66–67)
New York City, New York
Occupation Screenwriter, novelist

Eleanor Perry (née Rosenfeld; nom-de-plume Oliver Weld Bayer, 1914 – March 14, 1981), born in Cleveland, Ohio, was a screenwriter and author who was a part of a team with her then husband film director Frank Perry. She won an Emmy award for her television screenplay adaptation of Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory.[1] The Perry duo was responsible for 1968's The Swimmer starring Burt Lancaster, Diary of a Mad Housewife starring Carrie Snodgrass and the Academy Award-nominated independent film, David and Lisa among other films.[2] Eleanor Perry was also a journalist and novelist who penned Blue Pages, a semi-autobiographical novel about her time writing screenplays in Hollywood. Prior to working with Frank Perry, Eleanor had published numerous articles, plays and novels including Third Best Sport which was produced on Broadway.[3]

Film critic Charles Champlin fondly remembered Perry as the feminist who "discovered a ladder and a can of spray paint" to protest, deface and demonstrate her distaste for Federico Fellini's sexist "she-wolf" Roma posters at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival.[3] The outspoken Eleanor Perry was an advocate for women's rights and screenwriters' recognition, often criticizing the film industry.[4]

Life and career[edit]

Born and raised to a Jewish family[5] in Cleveland, Ohio, she attended Western Reserve University, where she wrote for the college's literary magazine.[6] Together with her first husband, attorney Leo G. Bayer, she wrote a series of suspense novels, including Paper Chase (1942), made into the movie Dangerous Partners in 1945. After earning a master's degree in psychiatric social work, she began to write plays, enjoying Broadway success in 1958 with Third Best Sport, a collaboration with her husband. The two were divorced shortly after.

In 1960, she married aspiring film director Frank Perry, with whom she formed a long-lasting professional partnership.Their first film, the low-budget David and Lisa, for which she drew upon her psychiatric background, earned the couple Academy Award nominations for writing and direction. In 1966, she and Truman Capote adapted his novella, A Christmas Memory, for the anthology series ABC Stage 67, which earned her the first of two Emmy Awards. (The second was for The House Without a Christmas Tree in 1972).

Following her divorce from Perry in 1971, she wrote a roman à clef about her marriage, incorporating many of the problems she faced as a female screenwriter in Hollywood into her 1979 novel, Blue Pages. In 1972, she was head of the jury at the 22nd Berlin International Film Festival.[7]

In 1977, she was among the first wave of honorees of the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.[8]

Her son, William Bayer, is a crime fiction writer.

On March 14, 1981, she died of cancer in New York City. Seventeen years after her death, she received screen credit yet again when her original screenplay of David and Lisa was refilmed for television.





  1. ^ Variety "Eleanor Perry Obituary" March 17, 1981
  2. ^ a b Canby, Vincent (June 11, 1969). "Last Summer (1969) Screen: 'Last Summer':Cinema I Film Brings Trio of Newcomers". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ a b Los Angeles Times "Critic at Large: Memories of Writer Linger" by Charles Champlin, March 1981
  4. ^ The Cleveland Press "Obituaries: Eleanor Perry dies, was screenwriter, feminist" March 17, 1981
  5. ^ Erens, Patricia (August 1988). The Jew in American Cinema. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-20493-6. 
  6. ^ The Cleveland Press "Obituaries: Eleanor Perry dies, was screenwrier, feminist", March 17, 1981
  7. ^ "Berlinale 1972: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-03-15. 
  8. ^ "Past Recipients". Wif.org. 

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