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Sam Grossman

Sam Grossman, whose various films as writer and director included the hit genre comedy “The Van,” died of cancer Monday at his home in West Los Angeles. He was 53.

Grossman directed 1976’s “The Van” starring a pre-“Taxi” Danny DeVito, one of the most successful of the California-youth comedies of that period. At the time of his death, he was completing post-production on “Static,” which he wrote and directed last year on location in New York City.

He was born May 27, 1945, in New York City, attended the High School of Art and Design and later went to the New York University Film School before moving to California. He was a fellow at the American Film Institute from 1971 to 1976, where his mentors included George Stevens and Frank Capra.

While at AFI, he made two shorts, “At the Edge of the Bed” and “A Date With Chris.” He later wrote 1979’s “The Visitor,” which starred Mel Ferrer and Glenn Ford and, in the mid-1980s, directed three installments of Casey Kasem’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Gold Mine” documentaries on the pop music of the ’60s.

For Playboy Television, Grossman wrote the performance documentary “Playboy’s History of Striptease” and several installments of the Playboy Channel series “Ribald Classics.” He also authored several stage plays, including “In Your Own Backyard.”

He is survived by his wife, Naomi, a production executive at KingWorld, and a son, Robert, a screenwriter. A memorial service is scheduled for noon Sunday at the Greystone Mansion.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the UCLA Intervention Program, 1000 Veteran Avenue, Westwood CA 90024.

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