Harry Essex, a veteran writer whose work included the screenplay for “Creature From the Black Lagoon” and numerous other films, TV shows, plays and books, died of heart failure Feb. 6 at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. He was 86.His screenplay credits include “Sons of Katie Elder” (1963), “He Walked by Night” (1948), “It Came From Outer Space” (1953) and “The Lonely Man” (1957). He also wrote and directed “I, the Jury” (1953). Born in New York City, Essex began his career in theater after receiving a degree from St. John’s U. in 1936. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army. Following the war, he moved to Hollywood to work as a staff writer for Columbia (1945-48), RKO (1949-51), Universal (1951-56), MGM (1960-62) and United Artists (1962-68). Essex’s plays included “Something for Nothing,” “Fatty” (based on the life of Fatty Arbuckle), “The Dark Passion” and “Twilight.” He also wrote episodes for such TV series as “The Untouchables,” “Playhouse 90” and “Philco Playhouse.” Essex was also the author of the books “Man and Boy,” “The Lonely Man” and “The Amigos,” each of which served as the basis for a screenplay. His short stories “The Gloves” and “Once Around the Block” both became TV scripts. He is survived by a son, a daughter, two sisters, a grandson and a granddaughter. Services were held Feb. 9 at Village Mortuary Chapel in Los Angeles.
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