×

Herman Wouk, Author of ‘Caine Mutiny,’ ‘Winds of War,’ Dies at 103

Herman Wouk, the author of novels adapted to the big and small screen, including “The Caine Mutiny,” “Marjorie Morningstar,” “The Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance,” has died. He was 103.

“The Caine Mutiny,” a 1951 bestseller that won Wouk the Pulitzer Prize, was memorably adapted into the 1954 film starring Humphrey Bogart, who played the paranoid, mentally unstable captain of a Navy minesweeper whose actions drive his subordinates to mutiny. That pic, directed by Edward Dmytryk and also starring Jose Ferrer, Van Johnson and Fred MacMurray, drew seven Oscar nominations, including those for best picture and screenplay for Stanley Roberts.

Wouk relied upon his wartime experiences not only for “The Caine Mutiny,” but for his later novels “The Winds of War” (1971) and “War and Remembrance” (1978). These expansive works, which followed one character, Navy Commander Victor “Pug” Henry, through seemingly every important moment in WWII, were adapted into the highly successful ABC miniseries of the same name. Wouk penned the adapted teleplays himself. (He also had an uncredited role in “The Winds of War” as the Archbishop of Siena.)

Both minis, which aired in 1983 and 1988-89, respectively, drew multiple Emmy nominations and won several, with “War and Remembrance” nabbing best miniseries.

Wouk adapted a section of the “Caine Mutiny” novel into a stage play called “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial,” which first played Broadway in a 1954 production directed by Charles Laughton and starring Lloyd Nolan, Henry Fonda and John Hodiak.

The play was presented live on television in 1955 as part of the anthology series “Ford Star Jubilee.” A revival of the play hit Broadway in 1983, and Robert Altman directed another TV version in 1988 that toplined Brad Davis, Eric Bogosian and Jeff Daniels.

Either the “Caine Mutiny” novel or the play was also adapted for English, Dutch, Belgian and German television.

Wouk’s 1955 novel “Marjorie Morningstar,” about a young Jewish woman named Marjorie Morgenstern who seeks to be an actress, was adapted into the 1958 romantic drama of the same name that starred Natalie Wood and Gene Kelly.

The author’s 1961 novel “Youngblood Hawke,” about the life of novelist Thomas Wolfe, was adapted into the 1964 film of that name starring James Franciscus.

Born in New York City, Wouk graduated from Columbia College. He was a radio dramatist in the 1930s, working as part of David Freedman’s “Joke Factory” and later with Fred Allen. In 1941 he wrote radio spots for the federal government to sell war bonds.

Wouk served in the Navy in the Pacific Theater during WWII. He started writing his first novel, published in 1947, in spare moments while aboard ship.

Wouk had his first taste of Hollywood in 1949, when he submitted a treatment for what would become the film “Slattery’s Hurricane,” starring Richard Widmark and Veronica Lake. (Wouk later expanded the treatment, about an ex-Navy pilot who discovers that his employees are smuggling drugs, into a novel published in 1956.)

Wouk’s 1949 play “The Traitor” was adapted for “The Ford Theatre Hour” in 1950, and he also wrote the story for the films “Her First Romance” (1951) and “Confidentially Connie” (1953).

His wife died in 2011.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Vader Streams Shuts Down

    Vader Streams Shut Down by Hollywood Studios

    A coalition of Hollywood studios and streaming companies announced on Tuesday that they have shut down Vader Streams, which was once a popular source of pirated TV content. The service went offline in early May under mysterious circumstances, leading to speculation that the operator had either absconded or been forced out of business. The Alliance [...]

  • Søren-Sveistrup

    Netflix Teams With 'The Killing' Creator for Crime Thriller 'The Chestnut Man'

    HAUGESUND, Norway  — Further expanding its Scandinavian footprint, Netflix has announced its second Danish original series, “The Chestnut Man,” a police thriller based on “The Killing” creator Søren Sveistrup’s popular novel. The streaming giant will team with Sveistrup’s SAM Productions, minority owned by Studiocanal, part of Vivendi Canal Plus Group, to deliver this noir-influenced literary [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    ICM Blasts Writers Guild Over Withdrawal of State Lawsuit

    ICM Partners has slammed the leaders of the Writers Guild of America over its decision to withdraw from its state court lawsuit in favor of refiling the action in federal court. The agency, which was sued in April by the guild and eight WGA members over charging allegedly illegal packaging fees, issued a statement Tuesday [...]

  • succession

    'Succession' Renewed for Season 3 at HBO

    “Succession” has scored an early Season 3 renewal at HBO. The news comes as the critically-acclaimed drama series is just two episodes into its second season. Season 1 of the series was recently nominated for five Emmy Awards, including for best drama series. “We are elated that ‘Succession’ and its exploration of wealth, power and [...]

  • Kaley CuocoHilarity for Charity Sixth Annual

    Kaley Cuoco HBO Max Series 'The Flight Attendant' Sets Creative Team

    The creative team set to bring Kaley Cuoco’s dark comedy series “The Flight Attendant” to HBO Max has taken shape. The series, which tells the terrifying story of a flight attendant (Cuoco) who wakes up in the wrong hotel, in the wrong bed, with a dead man and no idea what happened, has tapped Susanna [...]

  • Mayim Bialik

    Mayim Bialik Signs Warner Bros. TV Production, Talent Holding Deal

    “The Big Bang Theory” star Mayim Bialik is expanding her relationship with the production studio behind the long-running CBS comedy. Bialik and her newly launched Sad Clown Productions banner have signed an exclusive multi-year production deal with the studio, coupled with a talent holding provision for her acting services. Bialik is bringing on former Chuck [...]

  • Carmen Ejogo Isiah Whitlock Jr

    Bryan Cranston Showtime Series 'Your Honor' Casts Carmen Ejogo, Isiah Whitlock Jr.

    The upcoming Showtime drama series “Your Honor” has added Carmen Ejogo and Isiah Whitlock Jr. to its cast as series regulars. The pair join previously announced series lead Bryan Cranston. Cranston stars as a respected New Orleans judge whose son is involved in a hit-and-run that leads to a high-stakes game of lies, deceit and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content