Writer John Michael Hayes dies

Oscar nominated for work on 'Rear Window'

Screenwriter John Michael Hayes, nominated for Academy Awards for the classic Alfred Hitchcock film “Rear Window” and for “Peyton Place,” died of natural causes Wednesday in Hanover, N.H. He was 89.

Hayes also collaborated with Hitchcock on “To Catch a Thief,” “The Trouble With Harry” and the 1956 version of “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”

In his 2001 book “Writing With Hitchcock,” Steven Derosa makes the case that the screenwriter of Hitchcock’s classic films should be given more consideration. “It is clear that both men gained immeasurably from the talents of the other,” said Variety’s review of the book. A disagreement over the writing credit for “The Man Who Knew Too Much” abruptly ended the personal and professional relationship of Hitchcock and Hayes, the book relates. Another writer had made earlier contributions to the remake of Hitchcock’s 1934 film, but the Writers Guild ruled that Hayes would receive the sole credit.

The film version of the bestseller “Peyton Place” received nine Oscar noms, including adapted screenplay for Hayes, and was later made into a TV series.

He went on to write 1960s showpieces such as “Butterfield 8,” “The Children’s Hour,” “The Carpetbaggers” and “Where Love Has Gone.” During the 1970s, he wrote mostly for TV, with programs including “Winter Kill,” “Nevada Smith,” “Adams of Eagle Lake” and “Pancho Barnes.”

Hayes’ most recent writing credit is for the 1998 film “Iron Will,” starring Kevin Spacey.

Hayes was born in Worcester, Mass., and got his start writing for newspapers and radio. After paying his way through school at Massachusetts State College and serving in the Army, Hayes moved to Hollywood. There he landed a job writing for Lucille Ball’s radio program “My Favorite Husband” and serial drama “The Adventures of Sam Spade.”

His radio work caught the attention of Universal, which hired him as a screenwriter in the early 1950s. His first screen credit was for Budd Boetticher’s “Red Ball Express” in 1950.

Hayes donated his collection of scripts, photographs, letters and clippings from his Hollywood career to Dartmouth College in 1990. He also taught film writing in Dartmouth’s film studies program.

He is survived by four children.

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