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Last Updated: Monday, 23 June, 2003, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Tiffany's writer Axelrod dies
Axelrod (left) with Frank Sinatra
Axelrod (left) with Frank Sinatra, who starred in The Manchurian Candidate
Scriptwriter George Axelrod, who wrote the movies Breakfast at Tiffany's and The Manchurian Candidate, has died aged 81.

Axelrod, who was nominated for an Oscar for Breakfast at Tiffany's, died in his sleep of heart failure, his daughter said.

"He ended his life very peacefully in his home overlooking Los Angeles. He was very happy," his daughter Nina said.

The son of a silent movie star, he wrote 400 scripts for television and radio but found major success with Marilyn Monroe hit The Seven Year Itch in 1952.

His last major work was 1987's spy thriller The Fourth Protocol, which starred Michael Caine.

Marilyn Monroe in the Seven Year Itch
Axelrod wrote The Seven Year Itch, which became a hit for Monroe
The Seven Year Itch was first produced as a stage comedy, running on Broadway for three years before being adapted for the screen.

But he said afterwards: "We didn't make a very good picture."

Following that were Bus Stop, also with Monroe, and satire Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

The satire also began as a play, and Axelrod refused to see the film version because he said "they didn't use my story, my play or my script".

He also had disagreements with director Blake Edwards over Breakfast at Tiffany's, which he adapted from the Truman Capote novel.

In 1962, his success continued after he adapted The Manchurian Candidate, regarded as one of the best film dramas of all time.

'Luck and timing'

In 1995, he said the script "broke every rule. It's got dream sequences, flashbacks, narration out of nowhere... everything in the world you're told not to do".

Although his main activity was in the 1950s and 60s, he made a brief acting appearance in the Madonna comedy The Next Best Thing in 2000.

The secrets of his success, he said, were "luck and timing".

"I had a small and narrow but very, very sharp talent, and inside it, I'm as good as it gets," he said.

Breakfast still fresh at Tiffany's
01 Feb 01  |  Entertainment



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