Playwright and screenwriter John Bishop died on Dec. 20 in Bad Heilbrunn, Germany, where he was being treated for cancer. He was 77.
Bishop was a member of the Circle Repertory Co. in New York, and founded Circle West in Los Angeles.
Scribe is best known among legiters for “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940,” which he wrote and directed. Production preemed at Circle Rep and went on to a Broadway run in 1987. Show continues to be produced frequently around the country.
He also wrote for the screen, writing “The Package” with Gene Hackman and later working at Paramount on films including “Drop Zone,” “Clear & Present Danger,” “Sliver,” “Primal Fear” and “Beverly Hills Cop 3.”
Born in Mansfield, Ohio, John Bishop graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University and began his career in the theater as an actor at the Cleveland Playhouse.
His first play, “The Trip Back Down” starring John Cullum, moved to Broadway in 1977. His plays produced by Circle Rep include “Borderlines,” “The Great, Great Grandson of Jedediah Kohler,” “Winter Signs” and “The Harvesting.”
He directed Circle Rep productions of “The Beaver Coat,” “El Salvador,” “Florida Crackers” and several of his own plays, including “Empty Hearts” which also received a Kennedy Center grant. He had stints as resident director at both the Dallas Music Fair and the Pittsburgh Light Opera, and also regularly helmed industrials.
In recent years he wrote the book for the musical “Elmer Gantry” which was produced at Ford’s Theater in Washington and at the La Jolla Playhouse. A longtime player and fan of softball, he wrote “The Baseball Experience,” a multimedia presentation currently showing at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
New projects completed before he died include a play, “The Rock & Roll Murders of 1970,” and a novel, “Where Evil Lies.”
He is survived by his wife, Lisa, three sons and two grandchildren.