You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Frank De Felitta, Author of ‘Audrey Rose,’ Dies at 94

Frank De Felitta, author of the novel on which the horror film “Audrey Rose” was based and a documentary filmmaker, died Tuesday in Los Angeles at the age of 94, according to his son Raymond De Felitta, director of ABC’s “Madoff.”

Frank De Felitta made a name for himself as director of the 1966 NBC documentary “Mississippi: A Self Portrait.” The documentary chronicled the experiences of blacks and whites living in rural Mississippi, but what made the project a standout was an interviewee named Booker Wright.

Wright, a black waiter, spoke candidly about his mistreatment by white customers, which resulted in him losing his job, being beaten and having his restaurant burned down. He was later murdered.

In 2012, De Felitta revisited the documentary with his son Raymond, who directed a spin-off titled “Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story.” Produced by David Zellerford and Wright’s grandchild, Yvette Johnson, “Booker’s Place” captures the elder Felitta expressing guilt over Wright’s trials.

“I see my father, an intrepid documentarian of the turbulent times he was living in,” said Richard at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of “Booker’s Place.” “Stepping up to Booker Wright’s courageous decision and allowing him the platform to say the unsayable — to speak to an audience that he would otherwise never had.”

Almost a decade after the 1966 documentary, De Felitta stumbled onto another career-changer with his novel “Audrey Rose.”

The horror tale, which sold 3.5 million paperback copies, told the story of a couple who finds out their 11-year-old daughter, Ivy, might be the reincarnation of a girl killed in a car crash, Audrey Rose.

The novel was turned into a film in 1977 starring Anthony Hopkins and Marsha Mason and directed by Robert Wise. De Felitta adapted the screenplay.

Born in the Bronx, De Felitta served as a pilot in the Armed Air Forces during World War II before beginning his career in Hollywood. Later, he would begin writing for weekly radio thriller “The Whistler.”

De Felitta’s body of work includes writing for TV anthology series and the screenplays for “Anzio” (1968), “The Savage Is Loose” (1974) and “The Entity” (1982).

He is survived by his son, Raymond De Felitta; daughter, Ivy-Eileen De Felitta, and a grandson.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Gully Boy to represent India in

    'Gully Boy' to Represent India In Oscars Race

    The Film Federation of India has chosen Zoya Akhtar’s “Gully Boy” as its entry in the Academy Awards’ international feature film category. The picture, a coming of age tale about an aspiring rapper in Mumbai’s Dharavi slum premiered at the Berlin film festival in February before opening to a wave of acclaim at home in [...]

  • Lucy-Lost

    Cartoon Forum: 30th Anniversary, Little Giants and New Generations

    TOULOUSE, France –  Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Cartoon Forum wrapped Sept. 19 having showcased the ever-growing strength of European animation. 85 projects were pitched from 24 countries at the co-production forum platform that played host to north of 1,000 investors, distributors and producers – a record number. Falling on French-speaking Belgium – Wallonie-Bruxelles – whose [...]

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Music Gets 'Bigger, Better,

    As 'Downton Abbey' Hits the Silver Screen, the Music, Too, Gets 'Bigger, Better, Grander'

    When “Downton Abbey” fans hear that familiar strings-and-piano theme, a Pavlovian response ensues: Get to the television immediately, because you don’t want to miss a minute of the addictive Crawley family melodrama to follow. This week, with the “Downton Abbey” movie reaching theaters on Friday, fans can’t wait for their fix of Lady Mary and [...]

  • 45 Seconds of Laughter

    Film Review: '45 Seconds of Laughter'

    “Everyone is worth more than their worst act,” said Roman Catholic sister and anti-death penalty advocate Helen Prejean, and it’s with these words that “45 Seconds of Laughter” closes. It’s an apt sentiment on which to leave Tim Robbins’ sincerely felt documentary study of the therapeutic acting workshops run by his own theater company in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content