Don McGuire, the screenwriter, actor and director who conceived and co-wrote the Oscar-nominated script for “Tootsie,” died April 13 in Los Angeles of complications from a brief, unspecified illness. He was 80.
He is also remembered for bringing to MGM a screenplay of his that led to the Spencer Tracy starrer “Bad Day at Black Rock,” for which he received an adaptation credit.
Focusing on screenwriting in the 1950s, McGuire wrote and directed Jerry Lewis’ first film after the comic broke with Dean Martin. The film, “The Delicate Delinquent,” has Lewis playing a juvenile offender who becomes a police officer.
Other writing credits include “Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came?” (1970), “Three Ring Circus” (1954), “Back at the Front” (1952) and the Frank Sinatra starrer “Johnny Concho” (1956), which McGuire also directed.
He enjoyed a further measure of success as writer-director-producer with the TV series “Hennessey.”
Born in Chicago, McGuire joined the Army during World War II, but was sent home after hurting his back in a jeep accident. He briefly shot photos for the Chicago Tribune and later worked as a publicist in Hollywood.
Starting in 1945, McGuire played minor roles in several films before starring in the 15-part Columbia serial “Congo Bill” during the late 1940s. He was Red Skelton’s straight man in “The Fuller-Brush Man” and appeared in several other movies during the 1940s including “Pride of the Marines,” “Humoresque” and “The Man I Love.” All told, he was in more than 25 pics.
McGuire also authored several novels including “The Day Television Died” and “1600 Flooge Street.”
McGuire is survived by a niece. Donations in his name may be made to the Foundation for the Junior Blind.