Skip to main content

Paul Mazursky, 5-time Oscar nominee, dies

By Todd Leopold, CNN
updated 3:40 PM EDT, Wed July 2, 2014
Click through to see<a href='http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/world/obituaries-2014'> people who passed away</a> in 2014. Click through to see people who passed away in 2014.
HIDE CAPTION
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
People we lost in 2014
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Paul Mazursky wrote and directed films such as "Down and Out in Beverly Hills"
  • Mazursky began career as actor, then moved into writing; he co-wrote "Monkees" pilot
  • Mazursky films known for compassion and bittersweet wit

(CNN) -- Paul Mazursky, a five-time Oscar nominee who directed and wrote such films as "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," "An Unmarried Woman" and "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," has died, his agent said Tuesday.

He was 84. The cause of death was not revealed, but Mazursky had been in ill health for some time.

Mazursky was known for his compassionate touch as a writer and director, guiding such performers as Dyan Cannon (1969's "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice"), Art Carney (1974's "Harry and Tonto") and Jill Clayburgh (1978's "An Unmarried Woman") to Academy Award nominations for acting.

Carney, in fact, won a best actor Oscar for his performance as a widower who travels cross-country with his cat, Tonto.

Paul Mazursky
Paul Mazursky

Indeed, Mazursky was fond of such low-key, human stories, though usually with a dose of humor. "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" was about wife-swapping; "An Unmarried Woman" was about a wealthy New Yorker whose husband leaves her, putting her in the dating pool for the first time in years.

In a 1977 interview with Film Comment, Mazursky said that studios would have preferred him to make films for more money and with bigger stars, but he followed his gut, opted for a lower budget and went with character actor types over movie stars.

"They would prefer that I do one for $6 million rather than $2 million and shore it up with a couple of names. It's easier to sell. And I would have done it with a big star if I thought there was one who was perfect for the part," he said.

Instead, however, he cast people like Carney and Ron Silver (1989's "Enemies: A Love Story").

Other Mazursky-directed films include "Blume in Love" (1973), "Next Stop, Greenwich Village" (1976), "Moscow on the Hudson" (1984) and "Scenes from a Mall" (1991).

Mazursky was also a part of television history, having co-written the script for the pilot of "The Monkees."

1999: Mazursky talks about memoir

Mazursky started out as an actor, making his debut in Stanley Kubrick's early work "Fear and Desire" (1954) and guest-starring in several TV series, including "The Twilight Zone" and "The Real McCoys." He made frequent appearances in his own films and was an often wise-cracking presence in other works, including "The Sopranos," in which he played a card dealer friend of Junior Soprano, and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," in which he played Norm, an assistant of Mel Brooks.

In real life, Brooks and Mazursky were close friends. When Mazursky received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame late last year, Brooks said, "If he were gay, and I were gay, I think we would hang out together. That's how much I love him."

"I love you too," Mazursky said.

"Prove it!" Brooks retorted. "Pick up the bill for once, why don't you."

People we've lost in 2014

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:58 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Click through our gallery to remember those we lost this year.
updated 9:25 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Nearly 69 years ago, Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk navigated a U.S. B-29 Superfortress called the Enola Gay over Hiroshima, Japan, on a sunny August day.
updated 5:39 PM EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
James Shigeta, a prolific and pioneering Asian-American actor whose 50-year career includes the movies "Die Hard" and "Flower Drum Song," has died at age 81.
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Actress Skye McCole Bartusiak, who played Mel Gibson's youngest daughter in "The Patriot," has died at age 21.
updated 9:34 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
James Garner, the understated, wisecracking everyman actor who enjoyed multi-generational success on both the small and big screen, has died. He was 86.
updated 7:27 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Actress Elaine Stritch, known for her brash persona, gravelly voice and versatility over seven decades on Broadway, has died at age 89.
updated 12:28 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
American blues guitarist and singer Johnny Winter died in a hotel room in Switzerland at age 70.
updated 5:59 PM EDT, Mon July 14, 2014
Nadine Gordimer, the Nobel Prize-winning South African author and anti-apartheid activist, has died at age 90.
updated 3:03 PM EDT, Sun July 13, 2014
Grammy-winning jazz bassist Charlie Haden, whose music career spanned seven decades and several genres, has died at age 76.
updated 4:30 PM EDT, Sun July 13, 2014
Renowned conductor Lorin Maazel died from complications of pneumonia at age 84.
updated 9:50 AM EDT, Sun July 13, 2014
Drummer Tommy Ramone was 65 and the last living original member of The Ramones. Ramone was also one of the band's composers.
updated 7:21 PM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
Rosemary Murphy, an Emmy Award-winning actress, has died. She was 89.
updated 6:59 PM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
"Harry Potter" actor David Legeno has died at age 50, a California sheriff's office said.
updated 8:17 PM EDT, Thu July 10, 2014
Eileen Ford, who founded Ford Model Agency 70 years ago and helped modernize the modeling industry, has died at the age of 92.
updated 3:28 PM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
The actor who gave voice to Pinocchio in Walt Disney's 1940 animation movie has died. He was 87.
updated 4:33 PM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
Eduard Shevardnadze, whose political career seesawed between two extremes, has died at age 86.
updated 9:06 AM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
Former Real Madrid star Alfredo Di Stefano, widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, has died at the age of 88.
updated 6:45 PM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
Richard Mellon Scaife, the billionaire publisher and banking heir who financed conservative causes that included attempts to discredit Bill Clinton while he was president, has died.
ADVERTISEMENT