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.”
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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.