Hollywood screenwriter Guy Thomas died Friday at his home in Ventura County, Calif., of a suspected heart attack, his friend Gerri Malcolm confirmed to Variety. He was 66.
Thomas was best known for his screenplay of “The Magic of Belle Isle,” directed by Rob Reiner and starring Morgan Freeman as a struggling alcoholic writer and Virginia Madsen as his neighbor. His other screenplay credits include 1980’s “Wholly Moses!” and 2001’s “Chasing Destiny.”
Before his death, Thomas was working on an alt-history science fiction Western series, “Billy Stars,” with Oscar-nominated producer David Valdes.
Born in Bay Shore, N.Y., Thomas grew up in Georgia, where he first wrote for live theater and eventually for the screen. He sold his first screenplay, “Jungle Boy,” when he was 22. Columbia Pictures head David Begelman hired Thomas as a staff writer of the ABC Series “Carter Country” as an incentive to get him to move to Los Angeles, and he penned a 1977 sitcom episode starring Victor French and Kene Holliday.
His next screenplay, “The Book of Herschel,” was sold to Columbia Pictures and produced by Freddie Fields as “Wholly Moses!,” a comic fantasy film starring Dudley Moore, James Coco, Lorraine Newman and Richard Pryor as the pharaoh.
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His first agent, Jack Rapke, said in a statement that he remembers Thomas as “brilliant and talented and having a large influence on his early days as a literary agent.”
Thomas is survived by his sister, Barbara, nephew, Michael, and niece, Dawn.