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‘Bonnie’ scribe Newman dies at 66

Career included 'Superman' pix, 'What's Up, Doc?'

Oscar- and Tony-nommed screenwriter-playwright David Newman, who penned “Bonnie & Clyde,” Warner’s “Superman” films and several Broadway plays including the book for the “Superman” tuner, died Thursday in New York after suffering a stroke June 21. He was 66.

Brooklyn native took bachelor and master degrees at the U. of Michigan, where he edited the literary and humor mags and twice won the Avery Hopwood Award. There he met future wife Leslie, who would become a food columnist, cookbook author and his frequent collaborator.

He returned to Gotham after college and became an editor at Esquire, where he befriended editor Robert Benton. Together, Newman and Benton created the still-thriving Dubious Achievement Awards.

Taking B’way flight

Newman penned the book for Harold Prince’s 1966 Broadway production of tuner “It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane … It’s Superman.” The following year, Newman and Benton tried their hand at screenwriting, penning the seminal “Bonnie & Clyde.” They went on to share an Oscar nom for the Arthur Penn-helmed 1967 pic.

A few years later, British critic Kenneth Tynan approached Newman, among many others, to contribute to a musical revue he was compiling on the subject of sex. “Oh! Calcutta!” became a sensation, running three years in its 1972 original production and 13 more in its 1976 revival. Newman’s contributions included the notorious Swinger sketch.

Newman continued writing screenplays with Benton into the ’70s, winning Writers Guild of America kudos for Barbra Streisand starrer “What’s Up, Doc?” He revisited the Man of Steel in the ’70s, penning the screenplay for the Warner Bros./Alexander Salkind blockbuster, along with wife Leslie, Benton and Mario Puzo. The two Newmans often wrote together thereafter, co-writing the next two “Superman” pics. Other screenwriting credits include “Sheena,” Michael Jackson’s 1988 “Moonwalker” and “Takedown” (2000). Most recently, he penned several episodes of the syndicated action skein “Mutant X.”

‘Life’ on boards

Newman continued to write for the stage even as his screen career slowed, scribbling the book for the Cy Coleman tuner “The Life,” which played 466 perfs on Broadway in 1997-98.

He is survived by his wife; daughter Catherine, a TV producer-director; son Nathan, a fitness writer and model; and two grandchildren.

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