Nelson Gidding

Screenwriter

Screenwriter Nelson Gidding died May 2 in Los Angeles. He was 84. has died. He was 84.

A frequent collaborator of director Robert Wise, his credits included “The Haunting,” “The Andromeda Strain” and “I Want to Live!,” a 1958 drama based on the real-life story of Barbara Graham, who was executed in San Quentin’s gas chamber in 1955 after she and two accomplices were convicted of strangling and beating to death a wealthy, disabled Burbank widow.

Susan Hayward won a best actress Oscar for her performance as Graham, and Gidding shared a screenwriting Oscar nomination with Don Mankiewicz for their adaptation of newspaper and magazine articles about Graham and letters she wrote.

Other screenplays he wrote or cowrote for Wise were for “Odds Against Tomorrow” (1959), “The Haunting” (1963), “The Andromeda Strain” (1971) and “The Hindenburg” (1975).

Born in New York City, Giddings majored in history and literature at Harvard College. His plane was shot down in Italy during World War II and he began writing a novel about his POW experiences titled “End Over End.”

Gidding then began writing for radio, including “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon,” for which he later wrote the television pilot and episodes of the 1955-’58 TV series. He also wrote television scripts for “Suspense,” “The Inner Sanctum,” “Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Presents” and “Playwrights ’56.”

Gidding moved to the big screen as co-writer of “The Helen Morgan Story,” the 1957 drama about the 1920s and ’30s singer, starring Ann Blyth and Paul Newman.

Among his other screen credits were “Onionhead” (1958), “Skullduggery” (1970), “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure” (1979) and “The Mummy Lives” (1993).

Until last year, Gidding had spent more than a decade teaching a course on screen adaptations at USC.

He is survived by a son, his wife, Chunling, and one grandson.

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