George Wells

Screenwriter George Wells, who won an Academy Award for the “Designing Women” script in 1957, died Nov. 27 in Newport Beach of natural causes. He was 91.

He was known for his light touch with scripts, writing and producing more than two dozen musicals and comedies for MGM between 1943 and 1970.

Wells took home the Oscar for best original story and screenplay for “Designing Women,” which starred Lauren Bacall and Gregory Peck.

“He was a gentleman. When you worked with him, it was as if a college professor had decided to make a movie. He was so professional,” said Esther Williams, who starred in several movies written and produced by Wells.

Born in New York City, Wells followed his father, Vaudeville performer Billy K. Wells, into the entertainment business.

He began his career writing radio scripts for the “Jack Pearl Show” and for nine years worked on the “Lux Radio Theater.” When the show moved to Los Angeles, Wells moved with it.

In 1943, he went to work as a contract writer for MGM.

He co-wrote “Angels in the Outfield” (1951) and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (1949), which starred Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly.

In the mid-1950s, Wells also began producing films, including Williams’ final movie for MGM, “Jupiter’s Darling” (1955).

“I was so grateful to George because we were running out of ideas to get me into the water,” she said. “I went out in a blaze of glory with that film.”

Wells retired from MGM in 1970 and wrote several television scripts. In 1982, he wrote the novel “Taurus.”

Wells’ first wife, Ruth, died in 1987. He is survived by his second wife, Mary, two children and three grandchildren.

No services will be held.

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