Filmmaker Paul Mazursky, the five-time Oscar nominee most famous for films such as “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” and “An Unmarried Woman,” has passed away. According to a family spokesperson, he died of pulmonary cardiac arrest Monday in Los Angeles. He was 84.
Mazursky's last theatrical release came nearly 20 years ago with the Chazz Palminteri adaptation “Faithful” but he has maintained a guest actor presence in film and television ever since. (And before — in fact, a young Mazursky can be seen all the way back in Stanley Kubrick's 1953 film “Fear and Desire.”) Younger audiences may know him as Norm from HBO's “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or his appearances on ABC's “Once and Again,” but he established a long and distinguished career writing and directing relationship dramas and comedies and had been a singular voice throughout.
Four of Mazursky's five Oscar nominations came for his work on the page. He was always recognized for crafting those stories, even if the directors branch never spoke up for him. In addition to “Bob & Carol” and “Unmarried Woman,” he was also recognized for 1974's “Harry and Tonto” and 1989's “Enemies: A Love Story.” He was cited as producer of Best Picture nominee “An Unmarried Woman” as well.
Prior to his feature work, however, he made a name for himself as a writer for television, most notably on “The Danny Kaye Show.” In December of last year, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And earlier this year, he was honored by the Writers Guild of America with the Laurel Award for Screen Writing Achievement.
Mazursky's was the kind of steady, fulfilling career that I imagine many in this industry yearn for. And if you're unfamiliar with his work, you should seek out “Next Stop, Greenwich Village” or “Bob & Carol” and see for yourself what a command of story he had. Like Sidney Lumet, he was an unassuming standby we probably thought we'd have forever. And he will be missed.