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Joel Oliansky

Emmy-winning writer-director

This article was corrected on Aug. 5, 2002.

Writer-director Joel Oliansky, who won Emmys for his work on series “The Senator” and miniseries “The Law” as well as praise for his film “The Competition” and a WGA Award for miniseries “Masada,” died July 29 in L.A. of heart failure. He was 66.

Oliansky garnered the 1971 Emmy for scripting “The Senator” starring Hal Holbrook as well as a Writers Guild Award for 1981 miniseries “Masada” starring Peter O’Toole and Peter Strauss. “The Competition” starring Richard Dreyfuss and Amy Irving, is regularly praised for its look at performing artists.

Working with William Sackheim, Oliansky created series “The Law” and “Masada.” “The Law” won an Emmy for best special in 1975; Oliansky wrote and directed episodes.

Other small screen credits include “Kojak,” “Quincy,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Silence at Bethany,” “Emergency,” “Bring ‘Em Back Alive” and “In Defense of a Married Man.”

He also wrote the screenplay draft for “Bird,” 1988 biopic on the life of jazz musician Charlie Parker which he intended to direct. Some years later, Clint Eastwood directed the film, which starred Forest Whitaker.

Brooklyn-reared, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Hofstra and his master’s at Yale where he was a playwright in residence before coming to Hollywood in 1964.

While at Hofstra, Oliansky wrote the play for the musical “Inertia” based on H.G. Wells’ “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Classmate Francis Ford Coppola directed the production, which starred Lainie Kazan. Coppola was instrumental in bringing Oliansky to California to work for Seven Arts following their collaboration.

Other writings include the play “Bedford Forrest” and novel, “Shame, Shame on the Johnson Boys!”

Survivors include two children; former wife Patricia; and a sister, literary agent Lynn Pleshette.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at the Catalina Bar and Grill, 1640 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood.

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