Frank Perry

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Frank Perry
Frank Perry.jpg
Born Frank Joseph Perry, Jr.
(1930-08-21)August 21, 1930
New York City, U.S.
Died August 29, 1995(1995-08-29) (aged 65)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Prostate cancer
Alma mater The Actors Studio
University of Miami
Occupation Director and Filmmaker
Years active 1955–1992
Employer Westport Country Playhouse
Spouse(s) Eleanor Rosenfeld
(m. 1958; div. 1971)

Barbara Goldsmith
(m. 1977; div. 1992)

Virginia Brush Ford
(m. 1992; his death 1995)
Parent(s) Frank Joseph Perry, Sr.
Pauline E. Schwab
Relatives Katy Perry (niece)
Charles M. Schwab (great uncle)

Frank Joseph Perry, Jr.[1] (August 21, 1930 – August 29, 1995) was an American stage director and filmmaker. The 1962 independent film David and Lisa was nominated for two Academy Awards for best director (Frank Perry) and best screenplay (written by his then-wife, Eleanor Perry). The couple would go on to collaborate on five more films including the cult classic The Swimmer starring Burt Lancaster, Diary of a Mad Housewife starring Carrie Snodgress, and the Emmy award-nominated A Christmas Memory, which was based on a short story by Truman Capote and also adapted by his wife Eleanor. Frank Perry went on to form Corsair Pictures, which was privately financed by United Artists Theatres, producing two film flops, Miss Firecracker and A Shock to the System, before folding.[2][3] His later films include the Razzie Award-nominee Joan Crawford bio drama Mommie Dearest and the documentary On The Bridge, about his battle with prostate cancer. Author Justin Bozung is currently writing the official biography of Frank Perry titled Character is Story: The Life & Films of Frank Perry, which is due out in 2018.

Early life[edit]

Frank Joseph Perry, Jr. was born in New York City, to stockbroker Frank Joseph Perry, Sr. (March 21, 1905 — December 9, 1969)[4] and Pauline E. Schwab, who worked at Alcoholics Anonymous.[1] Pauline was also a niece of Charles M. Schwab, who founded the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. As a teenager, Frank Jr. began pursuing his interest in the theater with a job as a parking lot attendant for the Westport Country Playhouse in nearby Westport, Connecticut. He attended the University of Miami. Frank also studied under Lee Strasberg in New York. He produced several plays at Westport Country Playhouse and then turned for a time to producing television documentaries.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

A veteran of the Korean War, he returned back to the entertainment industry after being discharged and made his directorial debut in 1962 with the low-budget drama film David and Lisa. Based on the novel by Theodore Isaac Rubin, the screenplay was written by his wife, Eleanor Rosenfeld, who received a nomination for an Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay. A character study of two emotionally disturbed teenagers, the film was successful at the box office and met with much critical acclaim, earning him a nomination for an Academy Award for Directing. Both Perrys would eventually join the select group of non-actors awarded membership in Actors Studio.[5] Perry went on to direct and produce a number of films, including The Swimmer (1968) based on a John Cheever story, Last Summer (1969), and Trilogy (1969), written by Truman Capote.[citation needed]

Perry is known for his character studies involving a dysfunctional family, such as that in his wife's script of the Sue Kaufman novel Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970). That film earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Carrie Snodgress, and Play It As It Lays (1972), starring Tuesday Weld, brought her a Golden Globe Best Actress nomination. Both of these films Perry produced and directed, though he is probably best remembered for directing the notorious 1981 low-budget biographical drama Mommie Dearest, an adaptation of a biography by actress Joan Crawford's adoptive daughter, which portrayed the famous movie star as a crazed, sadistic tyrant who cared more about her acting career than her adopted children. The film became a cult classic despite mixed reviews from critics; it also won the razzie award for worst picture and Frank Perry was nominated for worst director.[citation needed]

Some of his film-related material and personal papers are contained in the Wesleyan University Cinema Archives, to which scholars and media experts from around the world may have full access.[6]

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1958, Frank married his first wife Eleanor, who was 15 years his senior. Perry and Eleanor collaborated on many screen projects, including screenwriting Academy Award nomination for 1962's "David & Lisa".[7] They divorced in 1971 on grounds of incompatibility.[8] She later wrote the book Blue Pages about her relationship with Frank. The union produced no children. Eleanor Perry died of cancer a decade later, at age 66. In 1977, Perry married his second wife, founding editor of New York magazine and author (“Little Gloria … Happy at Last"} Barbara Goldsmith, divorcing in 1992. Soon after, he married his Aspen ski instructor, 22-year-younger Virginia Brush Ford, on June 15, 1992. His sister is pastor Mary Christine Perry, the wife of pastor Maurice Keith Hudson and mother of singers Katy Perry and David Hudson.[9]

Perry died of prostate cancer on August 29, 1995, eight days after his 65th birthday, at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan.[10] His final film, 1992's On the Bridge, is an autobiographical documentary dealing with the illness. His ashes were scattered on the mountains of Aspen, Colorado, where he lived the last three years of his life.[11]

Filmography[edit]

Movies[edit]

Title Year Credited as Production Company Distributor Ref
Director Producer Writer
David and Lisa 1962 Yes Lisa and David Company Continental Distributing
Ladybug Ladybug 1963 Yes Yes Francis Productions United Artists
All the Way to Jerusalem 1968 Yes Yes Francis Productions Columbia Pictures
The Swimmer 1968 Yes Yes Horizon Pictures Columbia Pictures
Last Summer 1969 Yes Yes Francis Productions Allied Artists
Trilogy 1969 Yes Yes Francis Productions Allied Artists
Diary of a Mad Housewife 1970 Yes Yes Frank Perry Films Universal Pictures
Doc 1971 Yes Yes Frank Perry Films United Artists
Play It as It Lays 1972 Yes Yes Frank Perry Films Universal Pictures
Man on a Swing 1974 Yes Jaffilms Paramount Pictures
Rancho Deluxe 1975 Yes Elliott Kastner Productions United Artists
Mommie Dearest 1981 Yes Yes Frank Yablans Presentations Paramount Pictures
Monsignor 1982 Yes Frank Yablans Presentations Twentieth Century-Fox Film
Compromising Positions 1985 Yes Yes C.P. Productions Paramount Pictures
Hello Again 1987 Yes Yes Touchstone Pictures Buena Vista Pictures
Miss Firecracker 1989 Yes Corsair Pictures Corsair Pictures
A Shock to the System 1990 Yes Corsair Pictures Corsair Pictures
On the Bridge 1992 Yes Yes Yes Frank Perry Films Frank Perry Films

Television[edit]

Series Episode Year Credited as Production Company Network Ref
Director Producer Writer
Playwright at Work All episodes 1961 Yes National Educational Television and Radio Center
ABC Stage 67 A Christmas Memory 1966 Yes Yes Francis Productions American Broadcasting Company
TV Movie Among the Paths to Eden 1967 Yes Yes Francis Productions American Broadcasting Company
TV Movie The Thanksgiving Visitor 1967 Yes Yes Francis Productions American Broadcasting Company
TV Movie Miriam 1970 Yes Yes Francis Productions American Broadcasting Company
TV Movie Dummy 1979 Yes The Königsberg Company Columbia Broadcasting System
Skag Pilot 1980 Yes Lorimar Productions National Broadcasting Company
TV Movie J.F.K.: A One-Man Show 1984 Yes Public Broadcasting Service Public Broadcasting Service

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Mrs. Frank J. Perry, 56, Alcoholics Anonymous Aide". The New York Times. March 13, 1965. 
  2. ^ Los Angeles Herald-Examiner "Frank Perry to head new film company" by Charles Fleming, March 15, 1988
  3. ^ Variety "Lost & Found: Name: Frank Perry Description: Film Director Last Seen: On the ski lift" January 4, 1993
  4. ^ "Frank Joseph Perry". Find a Grave. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  5. ^ Garfield, David (1980). "Strasberg Takes Over: 1951-1955". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 93. ISBN 0-02-542650-8. Various directors and playwrights, including Frank Corsaro, Martin Fried, Jack Garfein, Michal V. Gazzo, Charles Gordone, Israel Horovitz, Arthur Penn, Eleanor Perry, Frank Perry, Sidney Pollack, Mark Rydell, Alan Schneider, and John Stix, have also been granted membership on the basis of their contributions to the life and work of The Actors Studio, as have certain other non-performers, such as Liska March and Carl Schaeffer. 
  6. ^ "Cinema Archives - Weslyan University". Wesleyan University. Retrieved September 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  7. ^ Oliver, Myrna (September 1, 1995). "Obituaries : Frank Perry; Director of 'David and Lisa'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 6, 2011. 
  8. ^ Lawson, Carol. "Eleanor Perry Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 March 1981.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  9. ^
  10. ^ Gussow, Mel (August 31, 1995). "Frank Perry, 65, the Director Who Filmed 'David and Lisa'". The New York Times. Retrieved September 6, 2011. 
  11. ^ Smith, Liz (September 7, 1995). "Douglas Behaves to Save Marriage". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 6, 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

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