Monday, July 29, 2019

"The Competition" Screenwriter & Director Joel Oliansky 2002 Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Joel Oliansky (October 11, 1935 – July 29, 2002) was an Emmy-winning screenwriter and director known for Bird, the 1988 biographic film about Charlie Parker, as well as writing and directing episodes of TV series including The Law, and Kojak.[1]

Early life

Oliansky was born in Brooklyn, New York[2] and attended Hofstra University, graduating in 1959.[3] In his last year, he wrote the book for Inertia with music by Steve Lawrence[4] and starring fellow-student Lainie Kazan; a drama scholarship at Hofstra is named in his memory. He pursued a master's degree at Yale, during which course his 1962 play Here Comes Santa Claus was written and produced.[5] He remained until 1964 as playwright-in-residence at Yale, and also directed two of the four plays comprising the initial season of the Hartford Stage Company.[6] During this period he also wrote his 1965 humorous novel Shame, Shame On the Johnson Boys about the folk-singing scene.[7]


Late in 1964, he removed to California at the urging of fellow Hofstra alumnus Francis Ford Coppola[8] to work as a screenwriter at Seven Arts.[9] While his efforts early in his L.A. stay were mostly directed toward publishing his novel, he was able to establish industry connections. By 1967 he was being credited as a writer and director for the Daniel Boone TV series.[10] He also wrote screenplays for films, including 1968's Counterpoint and The Todd Killings in 1971. He continued to work in both film and television, directing the 1990 TV movie In Defense of a Married Man,[11] and writing his final work in 1996, the poorly-received: Abducted: A Father's Love.[12]


In 1971, Oliansky won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama,[13] won the Writers Guild Award (Long Form: Multi-part) for the 1981 series Masada, and was nominated for these awards several other times. 

He wrote and directed the Oscar-nominated 1980 film The Competition,[14] and wrote the screenplay for Bird which was directed by Clint Eastwood and won an Oscar, and a Golden Globe.[15]

Personal life

He married Patricia Godfrey the year after graduating from Hofstra; they were later divorced. He died from complications of Guillain–Barré syndrome, leaving two adult children, and is interred in the Cathedral Mausoleum at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.[16]


1. "Joel Oliansky, 66, Emmy-Winning Writer". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
2. "Joel Oliansky". Retrieved 2018-05-27.
3. "Drama and Dance: Alumni | Hofstra | New York". Retrieved 2018-05-27.
4. Inertia - 1959 Original Cast, retrieved 2018-05-27
5. Times, Howard Taubman Special To the New York (1962-05-18). "Theatre: Student Drama; Play by Joel Oliansky Is Offered at Yale The Cast". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-05-27.
6. "Production History: Past Theater Shows CT | Hartford Stage". Hartford Stage. Retrieved 2018-05-27.
7. SHAME, SHAME ON THE JOHNSON BOYS! by Joel Oliansky | Kirkus Reviews.
9. Daley, Ashley (2002-08-01). "Joel Oliansky". Variety. Retrieved 2018-05-27.
13. "Joel Oliansky | Television Academy". Television Academy. Retrieved 2018-05-27.
15. "Joel Oliansky, 66; TV and Film Writer Won Emmy for 'The Law'". latimes. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
16. "Joel Oliansky". Retrieved 2018-05-28.

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