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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 July, 2005, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Screenwriter Ernest Lehman dies
Ernest Lehman with Julie Andrews in 2001
Lehman [with Julie Andrews] won an honorary Oscar in 2001
Screenwriter Ernest Lehman, whose films include such classic musicals as The Sound of Music and West Side Story, died on Saturday at the age of 89.

Lehman, who also produced Hello Dolly! and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, was nominated for six Oscars between 1955 and 1970 but did not win one.

However, he was given an honorary Oscar in 2001 "in appreciation of a body of varied and enduring work".

Lehman was president of the Writers' Guild of America from 1983 to 1985.

WGA president Daniel Petrie Jr said he was "a creative giant among writers [who] possessed one of the most distinctive voices of the last half-century".


"His unforgettable contributions to the craft of screenwriting helped define what we've come to know as American film."

Born in New York City on 8 December 1915, Lehman grew up on Long Island before working as a copywriter for a Broadway theatre publicist.

West Side Story
Lehman was Oscar nominated in 1962 for West Side Story
He would later draw on this experience in his novella Sweet Smell of Success, which he adapted into a movie in 1957.

He wrote Executive Suite, his first screenplay, in 1954, going on to work on Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn, Somebody Up There Likes Me with Paul Newman and epic musical The King and I.

He also wrote two films for Alfred Hitchcock - North by Northwest and the director's final project, Family Plot - and directed one film himself, the 1972 comedy Portnoy's Complaint.

Lehman died at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles after a lengthy illness.

He is survived by his second wife Laurie and his three sons.

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