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George Axelrod

George Axelrod was born and raised in New York City, the son of silent actress Betty Carpenter. Growing up, he often hung around Broadway theatres and eventually landed a job working backstage. During World War II, he served in the Army Signal Corps. Through the late ’40s and early ’50s he wrote for numerous television and radio series. His first big break came with the production of his play The Seven Year Itch in 1952. The comedy would win a Tony Award for its star, Tom Ewell, in the role of a Manhattan businessman who takes advantage of his family’s absence to have an affair with his attractive neighbor. He followed up with the comedy Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? in 1955. Axelrod wrote his first script for Hollywood, 1954’s “Phffft!,” which featured Jack Lemmon and Judy Holliday as a divorced couple. The Seven Year Itch was turned into a film in 1955, with Ewell reprising his role opposite Marilyn Monroe. Unfortunately, studio executives objected to the idea of the hero consummating the affair so Ewell’s character was reduced to simply daydreaming about it. Disappointed, Axelrod would later distance himself from the film in interviews. In part due to his frustration over The Seven Year Itch script, Axelrod moved from New York to Los Angeles so he could monitor the treatment of his scripts more closely. Though he passed on adapting his own play Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? for film, he did adapt William Inge’s play Bus Stop and Truman Capote’s novel Breakfast at Tiffany’s, as well as Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate. His last script was for the 1987 thriller The Fourth Protocol.


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Samuel French Titles by George Axelrod