Bruce Jay Friedman, an author, playwright and Oscar-nominated screenplay writer for Tom Hanks’s 1984 film Splash, died today in New York City. He was 90 and no cause of death was given by his son, Kipp Friedman.
In addition to screenplays, Friedman was known for his novels Stern and About Harry Towns, and the plays Scuba Duba and Streambath.
Friedman’s work was known for its wry humor and modern angst on such subjects as the transition to suburban life and the sex and drug adventures of a screenplay writer who had mixed feelings about his freedom to explore.
He authored more than a dozen books, including a comic take on bachelorhood that became the Steve Martin comedy The Lonely Guy.
Friedman also spent some time in front of the camera, appearing in Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail and Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives.
A literary lion of New York, Friedman was known for his vast array of celebrity connections, including friendships with popular authors Joseph Heller and Mario Puzo.
In his 2011 memoir, Lucky Bruce, Friedman remembered Puzo asking about the title of a book he was writing.
“Frankly, it doesn’t do much for me,” Friedman said. “It sounds too domestic.”
Puzo disagreed, and went on to keep the title he preferred, The Godfather.
Friedman was born and raised in New York City and studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He enlisted in the Air Force in the early ’50s, and his literary muse was sparked when a commanding officer gave him copies of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Thomas Wolfe’s Of Time and the River, and James Jones’ From Here to Eternity.
His first novel arrived in 1962. Stern, completed during his commute to the office where he worked as a magazine editor, portrayed a troubled family, mirroring his own. He divorced his first wife in 1978 and married Patricia O’Donohue five years later.
Surviors include his four children, the writers Josh Alan Friedman and Molly Friedman Stout, the cartoonist Drew Friedman, and Kipp Friedman, a photographer. No memorial service plans have been revealed.
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