Page last updated at 08:44 GMT, Thursday, 6 August 2009 09:44 UK

Waterfront writer Schulberg dies

Budd Schulberg
Schulberg died of natural causes at his home in Westhampton Beach

Budd Schulberg, the man who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for Hollywood classic On the Waterfront, has died in New York State at the age of 95.

According to his wife Betsy, Schulberg died on Wednesday after being rushed to hospital from his Long Island home.

The son of studio chief BP Schulberg, he first made his name as a novelist with books like What Makes Sammy Run?

He was also a well-known as a sports writer and was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2002.

His 1947 novel The Harder They Fall, a fictionalised expose of boxing, was filmed in 1955 with Humphrey Bogart.

The caustic What Makes Sammy Run?, meanwhile, is considered by many to be the definitive insider's guide to the Hollywood system.

I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am
Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront, written by Budd Schulberg

But it is On the Waterfront for which he is best known, thanks in part to such iconic lines as "I coulda been a contender."

Released in 1954, the film also won Oscars for lead actor Marlon Brando and director Elia Kazan.

Last year, theatre director Steven Berkoff produced a stage version of the film that ran at the Edinburgh Fringe and in London's West End.

In the early 1950s, Schulberg and Kazan both "named names" before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) established to root out communist influence in Hollywood.

The writer admitted he had been a communist in the 1930s, but said he had become disillusioned after Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler.

Budd Schulberg (left) testifying before the House Un-American Committee
Schulberg (left) voluntarily testified before HUAC in 1951

On the Waterfront, in which a dock worker exposes corruption within his union, has often been interpreted as a defence of informing.

Schulberg continued to write books, teleplays and screenplays, working with Kazan again on the 1957 film A Face in the Crowd.

Director Spike Lee, a friend and admirer, collaborated with him on a film about boxer Joe Louis.

In 1968, Schulberg was only yards away from presidential hopeful Robert Kennedy when he was gunned down in Los Angeles.

His wife, who survives him along with four children, said he was "very loved and cherished".

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