Gay shared an Oscar writing nom with Terrence Rattigan for the screenplay for “Separate Tables,” a 1958 romantic drama starring Burt Lancaster, Rita Hayworth, Deborah Kerr, and David Niven.
Long active in the Writers Guild of America, Gay wrote 14 feature films and 39 miniseries and TV movies, scripting projects for John Huston, Vincent Minnelli and John Sturges. He helped lead the Writers Guild through difficult negotiations while serving on the WGAW’s Board of Directors (1971-75, 1977-79), and as Vice President (1985-87).
Gay started out in live television starring with his wife Barbara in “Mr. and Mrs. Mystery,” and went on to write for numerous live TV dramas. Lancaster helped recruit him to Hollywood, where he wrote Clark Gable-Lancaster starring submarine film “Run Silent Run Deep.” He went on to write features including “The Hallelujah Trail,” “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” (co-written by Robert Ardrey), “The Power,” “Sometimes a Great Nation,” “Pocket Money” (screenplay by Terence Malick, adaptation by John Gay), “Hennessey,” “A Matter of Time,” “Soldier Blue,” and “No Way to Treat a Lady.”
For television, he worked on projects including “A Tale of Two Cities,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Fatal Vision,” about the Jeffrey McDonald murders, for which he earned a Primetime Emmy writing nomination, and the Carol Chessman story, “Kill Me If You Can.”
He received the Writers Guild’s Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement, the WGAW’s Morgan Cox Award in 1992 for Guild service, and the WGAW’s Edmund H. North Award, presented to a Guild member “whose courageous leadership, strength of purpose and continuing selfless activity on behalf of the Guild through the years, as well as professional achievement of the highest order, have served to establish the Writers Guild of America as a pillar of strength and security for writers throughout the world.”
During a WGA strike, he wrote the play “Diversions and Delights,” which opened on Broadway with Vincent Price starring as Oscar Wilde. Born in Whittier, California, Gay was a WGAW member since 1958. He published an autobiography in 2008, “Any Way I Can – 50 Years in Show Business,” co-written with his daughter, Jennifer Gay Summers.
Gay is survived by son Lawrence, daughters Jennifer Summers and Elizabeth Powell, and three grandchildren.
Donations may be made to The Writers Guild Foundation.