“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.