This article was updated on Jan. 15, 2003.
Paul Monash never did write the “great American novel” he first aspired to pen by age 21, but as a writer and then a producer, the much-honored multihyphenate creative brought to life some of TV and film’s best-known fare such as golden-age live TV dramas and on to “Peyton Place,” “Salem’s Lot,” “Carrie” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” He died Tuesday of pancreatic cancer in L.A., only about a month after being diagnosed. He was 85.
His death comes not long after that of “Butch” director George Roy Hill and the film’s cinematographer, Conrad Hall; Monash was the pic’s exec producer.
Born to silent film actress Rhoda Melrose, he was raised in the Bronx, got a B.A. from U. of Wisconsin, gained a master’s degree from Columbia U., and fully expected to become a novelist (indeed he eventually wrote a few, but not “the” one he dreamed of). Instead, in his telling, he rode the rails, did a stint in the merchant marine, lived as an ex-pat in Paris and studied art.
Filled with those experiences, he got to write the screenplay for “Foreign Intrigue,” which as he put it, “opened the gates” for him particularly involved in the expanding medium of TV, though he didn’t leave film altogether; other early film credits as a writer include “Touch of Evil,” “Sing, Boy, Sing,” both 1958, and “The Safecracker,” among others.
But it was in TV that he would make a big mark: He became a writer of “golden age” live television shows, including “Climax!,” “Suspense,” “You Are There,” “Playhouse 90,” “Kraft Theatre” and “Studio One.” He also wrote the pilots for the series “The Untouchables,” “The Asphalt Jungle,” “Twelve O’Clock High,” “Peyton Place” and “Judd for the Defense,” becoming exec producer of the last two. Additionally he created and produced “Cain’s Hundred” and later contributed to “V.”
His TV producing work led him back to theatrical films, including “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Carrie,” “Slaughterhouse Five,” and “The Friends of Eddie Coyle,” which he also wrote. Additional producer credits include “The Front Page,” “Rage: Carrie II” and “Big Trouble in Little China.”
Later major TV writing credits include telepics “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Stalin,” “Kingfish: The Life of Huey Long,” “George Wallace” and others.
Over time, his work garnered him Emmy noms and a win (for “The Lonely Wizard”), a Golden Globe, a Humanitas Award (“George Wallace”) and the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award from the WGAw.
Survivors include wife Jacqueline, two children and two stepchildren.
Memorial services will be held 11 a.m. Saturday Jan. 25 at the Riviera Country Club, 1250 Capri Drive, Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Donations in his memory can be made to the Cedars-Sinai Prostate Cancer Center, 8631 W. Third St., Suite 915E, Los Angeles CA 90048.