×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Barbara Turner, ‘Georgia’ Screenwriter and Mother of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Dies at 79

Barbara Turner, the screenwriter of “Petulia,” “Georgia” and “Pollock,” among numerous other features for film and television, died on Tuesday, April 5, in Los Angeles. Among Turner’s children was actress Jennifer Jason Leigh. She was 79.

After high school, Turner attended the University of Texas for a year, then returned to New York to study acting first at the Dramatic Workshop and later with Paul Mann, where she met Vic Morrow, who became her first  husband. In the late ’50s, Turner and Morrow moved to Hollywood, where she began acting in theater and on television series such as “Playhouse 90” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” Turner’s first screenplay was an adaptation of the Jean Genet play “Deathwatch,” directed by Morrow in 1966.

Turner received a Writers’ Guild of America nomination for her adaptation of “Petulia” (directed by Richard Lester in 1968), an Emmy nomination for TV movie “The War Between the Tates” (1977), Emmy and Writers Guild nominations for HBO movie “Hemingway & Gelhorn” (2012), and the Christopher Award for “Eye of the Sparrow” (1987); she was also a Humanitas Award finalist for the TV movies “Widow” and “Out of Darkness” (1994).

In 1994, Turner produced her screenplay “Georgia” with her daughter Leigh and the film’s director Ulu Grosbard. The film won the 1995 Montreal Film Festival’s Grand Prix of the Americas and a best actress award for Leigh. Leigh was also honored for her performance by the New York Film Critics Circle, and co-star Mare Winningham received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.

Turner’s other feature screenplay credits include “Pollock” (2000), adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography “Jackson Pollock: An American Saga,” by Steven Naifehand Gregory White Smith, and directed by and starring Ed Harris. Harris was nominated for a best actor Oscar and his co-star, Marcia Gay Harden, received the Oscar for best supporting actress for her portrayal of Lee Krasner in the film.

Turner also wrote the screenplay for Robert Altman’s film “The Company” (2003), starring Neve Campbell, Malcolm McDowell and James Franco.

Turner’s unproduced screenplays include the adaptations “Headlong,” based on the Michael Frayn novel of the same name; “Knowledge of Angels,” based on Jill Paton Walsh’s novel; and “Barn Blind,” based on Jane Smiley’s novel. Among her original screenplays are “Beautiful View,” “Under Heaven” and “Once Again for Zelda.”

In a 1995 interview in Scenario magazine, which published her screenplay for “Georgia,” Turner discussed her intensive creative process: “I do a lot of research… so everything is sunk in a kind of truth. People are wonderful, they’re extraordinary. They do and say and create extraordinary things. And that’s the joy of writing for me: just going out there for each screenplay and listening to people, and learning how they view the world, how they experience life and each other. My thought is, why make anything up when it’s so wonderful as it is?”

Gloria Rose Turner was born in New York. She was married twice: from 1957-64 to actor Vic Morrow, with whom she had two daughters, Carrie Ann Morrow and Leigh, and from 1968-1979 to television director Reza Badiyi, with whom she had another daughter, Mina Badiyi Chassler.

Turner is survived by her three daughters, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren

More TV

  • Winner of the 2019 Eurovision Song

    Netherlands' Duncan Laurence Wins 2019 Eurovision Song Contest

    Madonna’s controversial performance may have grabbed the headlines, but Duncan Laurence won the nearly four-hour-long 2019 Eurovision Song Contest for the Netherlands with the song “Arcade,” which he cowrote with Joel Sjöö and Wouter Hardy. Laurence won a total of 492 points from the expert juries and televoters in a contest that was touch and [...]

  • 'SNL' Cold Open Has Alec Baldwin's

    'SNL' Cold Open Has Alec Baldwin's Trump Rocking Out to Queen

    The cold open for the season finale of “Saturday Night Live” saw the Trump administration taking some liberties with a rock classic. Alec Baldwin returned as President Donald Trump, letting America know that he is going to be taking it easy now that summer is nearly here. He then said he was going to do [...]

  • Great Point Invests in U.K. Indie

    Great Point Invests in U.K. Indie Producer Seven Seas (EXCLUSIVE)

    U.K.-based Great Point has bought into Seven Seas Films, the British indie producer that recently teamed with BBC Studios for a drama series about the final months of Marilyn Monroe. Great Point has a new “enterprise investment scheme” fund, Great Point Ventures, and is primed to invest in several more film and TV producers in [...]

  • Outlander Season 4 Finale

    What CBS' Pursuit of Starz Means for CBS, Lionsgate

    CBS’ effort to buy pay TV service Starz from Lionsgate seems on the surface to be a head scratcher. CBS has told Wall Street for years that it has prospered because it brings only two must-have services to the table in negotiations with MVPDs, allowing the Eye to drive a hard bargain. Why would CBS [...]

  • Doha Film Institute Steps Up Documentaries

    Doha Film Institute Steps Up Documentaries and TV Series Grants

    The Doha Film Institute, which is at Cannes as a co-financier of Elia Suleiman’s competition entry “It Must Be Heaven,” has announced the 37 projects receiving its Spring Grants, roughly half of them to be directed by women. The latest batch of mostly Arabic fare set to tap into support from the DFI, a key [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content