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Dean Franklin Riesner


This article was corrected on Aug. 27, 2002.

Dean Franklin Riesner, whose screenwriting credits range from the James Cagney starrer “The Fighting 69th” in 1940 to Clint Eastwood films of the 1970s, died Aug. 18 of natural causes at his Encino, Calif., home. He was 83.

A New York native, his father, Charles, was a silent film director who helmed more than 44 features. Riesner’s own career began at age 5 when Charles Chaplin cast him in “The Pilgrim” as Dinky Riesner. He turned to screenwriting in the late 1930s with credits including “Code of the Secret Service” and “A Fugitive From Justice.”

In 1947 Rieser wrote and directed a short film titled “Bill and Coo,” a live-action story about two birds terrorized by an evil crow that won a special Academy Award in 1948.

Riesner switched to TV in the late 1950s and wrote episodes of “Lawman,” “Ben Casey,” “The Outer Limits” and “Rawhide” where he first worked with Eastwood.

In 1968 Riesner began his feature film association with Eastwood when he scripted the popular “Coogan’s Bluff.” In 1971, Riesner penned Eastwood’s directorial debut “Play Misty for Me,” and that same year Eastwood brought Riesner in to rewrite what later became the greenlight draft of “Dirty Harry.” Riesner’s line, “Do you feel lucky, punk?” and “Go ahead, make my day,” caught on with the public and became a catchphrase.

Riesner penned the Nick Nolte/Peter Strauss hit miniseries, “Rich Man, Poor Man” in 1976 and then carved a successful niche for himself as a script doctor, working uncredited on such features as “Das Boot,” “Blue Thunder” and “Starman.”

A partial sampling of his feature credits include “The Helen Morgan Story,” “The Travellers,” “Paris Holiday,” “High Plains Drifter” (uncredited) and “The Sting II” (uncredited). His final credit came in 1987 with the Whoopi Goldberg/Sam Elliot comedy “Fatal Beauty.”

Riesner, whose wife Marie died a few years ago, is survived by several nieces and nephews.

A memorial will be held at 3 p.m. on Tuesday at the Writers Guild Theater, 135 S. Doheny Dr., Beverly Hills.

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