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‘Urban Cowboy’ helmer Bridges dies

Oscar-nominated director James Bridges, whose films included “The Paper Chase ,””The China Syndrome” and “Urban Cowboy,” died of cancer Sunday. He was 57.

Bridges died of intestinal cancer after a three-year struggle. He was pronounced dead at the UCLA Medical Center, said his friend, Aaron Latham, who co-wrote “Urban Cowboy” with Bridges.

“He was an incredibly generous person, personally and professionally,” Latham said. “He made it easy to collaborate on every aspect of the movie.”

In 1966, Bridges first directed “The Candied House” for theater, written by his longtime companion Jack Larson. In 1977, Tennessee Williams chose him to stage the 25th-anniversary revivalof “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

Bridges began in movies by writing and directing “The Babymaker,” in 1970.

Three years later, he wrote and directed “The Paper Chase,” starring Timothy Bottoms and Lindsay Wagner as law school students and John Houseman in the Oscar-winning role as cantankerous Professor Charles W. Kingsfield Jr. It was later made into a TV series.

In 1979, Bridges wrote and directed “The China Syndrome” starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas. The film about a nuclear power plant accident gained Bridges an Oscar nomination for best screenplay.

Bridges’ last film, which he also directed and scripted from the novel, was “Bright Lights, Big City,” about the fast-paced life of a drug-abusing publishing house fact checker, played by Michael J. Fox.

Born in Paris, Ark. on Feb. 3, 1936, Bridges came to Los Angeles in the 1950s and got bit parts in the TV shows “Dragnet” and “Matinee Theater.”

Bridges is survived by his mother and sister, of Paris, Ark., where he will be buried.

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