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George Axelrod – The Screenwriter to Rule Them All
 
Axelrod was born in New York City, to the family of silent film actress Beatrice Carpenter, of Scottish descend, and Herman Axelrod, a real estate agent with Russian-Jewish roots. 
 
Having finished his education, Axelrod enlisted into the Army Signal Corps, where he served throughout the World War II. After the war, he began writing scripts for radio programs, including The Shadow, Midnight and Grand Ole Opry, later writing for television shows. During his career, he wrote or contributed to more than 400 TV and radio scripts for top comedians of the time, including Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin.
 
The breakthrough came with the film adaptation of his hit 1952 stage comedy, The Seven Year Itch - the movie starring Marilyn Monroe (1955) was an expected success, and Axelrod came into the view of Hollywood bigshots.
 
Interestingly, the original plot of the stage play, telling of a married man having an affair while his wife and children are on vacation, was altered to suit the sensibilities of the time - in the film, the man was only dreaming of having an affair!
 
Thanks to The Seven Year Itch, as well as later film adaptations of Breakfast at Tiffany's and The Manchurian Candidate (starring Laurence Harvey and Frank Sinatra), Axelrod became one of the highest paid writers in Hollywood, and was later nominated for an Academy Award for Breakfast at Tiffany's. He remained at the top of his trade in the 50s and 60s, gradually moving away from writing in the later decades of his life..
 
Axelrod was also an author of three novels: Blackmailer, a comic mystery, Beggar's Choice, a comedy, and Where Am I Now When I Need Me?, a humorous overview of the contemporary Hollywood scene.
 
Axelrod is the father of the prominent lawyer Peter Axelrod, businessman and writer Steven Axelrod, and actress Nina Axelrod. He is also the stepfather of screenwriter Jonathan Axelrod  and the grandfather of  actor and screenwriter Taliesin Jaffe.
 
George Axelrod died quietly in his sleep after a long illness at the age of 81
 
Sources:
George Axelrod Biography (1922-) – Filmreference.com
George Axelrod at the Internet Movie Database

 


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