You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

James L. White, Who Penned ‘Ray’ Screenplay, Dies at 67

James L. White, who wrote the original screenplay to the 2004 Ray Charles biopic “Ray,” starring Jaime Foxx, died early Thursday morning from complications resulting from pancreatic and liver cancer at his home in Santa Monica, his attorney, Matthew L. Saver, confirmed to Variety. He was 67.

White had two projects in motion: the untitled Dinah Washington biopic, which is in pre-production, and Bessie Smith biopic “Empress of the Blues”; neither has a director attached.

A statement from attorney Saver read in part: White “worked steadily and was commissioned by studios and networks to write many musical-artist-based scripts.  At the time of his passing he was about to direct his own screenplay.”

Taylor Hackford’s “Ray” won Oscars for Foxx’s leading performance and for sound mixing and was also nominated for best picture, director, film editing and costume design.

Responding to news of White’s passing, Hackford said: “Jimmy White was a lovely man and a terrific writer. His insights as a black man growing up in the South (Kentucky) were an invaluable asset in writing the script for ‘Ray.'”

White credited his good friend Sidney Poitier with giving him his first writing job, his attorney told Variety.

Survivors include White’s wife Elizabeth; two daughters; and a son.

At White’s request, there will be no services. According to his family, he joked, “Don’t throw me a funeral because I won’t be there.”

Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.

 

More Film

  • Akon (Singer, Businessman)Variety Studio Presented By

    Akon Blasts Donald Trump as He Contemplates Running for President in 2020

    James L. White, who wrote the original screenplay to the 2004 Ray Charles biopic “Ray,” starring Jaime Foxx, died early Thursday morning from complications resulting from pancreatic and liver cancer at his home in Santa Monica, his attorney, Matthew L. Saver, confirmed to Variety. He was 67. White had two projects in motion: the untitled […]

  • Moviepass

    Struggling MoviePass Launches $164 Million Bond Sale

    James L. White, who wrote the original screenplay to the 2004 Ray Charles biopic “Ray,” starring Jaime Foxx, died early Thursday morning from complications resulting from pancreatic and liver cancer at his home in Santa Monica, his attorney, Matthew L. Saver, confirmed to Variety. He was 67. White had two projects in motion: the untitled […]

  • Producers Guild of America PGA

    Producers Guild of America Sets Awards Show for Jan. 19, 2019

    James L. White, who wrote the original screenplay to the 2004 Ray Charles biopic “Ray,” starring Jaime Foxx, died early Thursday morning from complications resulting from pancreatic and liver cancer at his home in Santa Monica, his attorney, Matthew L. Saver, confirmed to Variety. He was 67. White had two projects in motion: the untitled […]

  • Koko Dead: Gorilla Used Sign Language,

    Koko, Signing Gorilla Who Met Robin Williams and Betty White, Dies

    James L. White, who wrote the original screenplay to the 2004 Ray Charles biopic “Ray,” starring Jaime Foxx, died early Thursday morning from complications resulting from pancreatic and liver cancer at his home in Santa Monica, his attorney, Matthew L. Saver, confirmed to Variety. He was 67. White had two projects in motion: the untitled […]

  • First Man, A Star Is Born,

    Oscars at Halfway Point: 'Black Panther' Leads the Pack, With Heavy-Hitters Coming Up

    James L. White, who wrote the original screenplay to the 2004 Ray Charles biopic “Ray,” starring Jaime Foxx, died early Thursday morning from complications resulting from pancreatic and liver cancer at his home in Santa Monica, his attorney, Matthew L. Saver, confirmed to Variety. He was 67. White had two projects in motion: the untitled […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content