James Prideaux, who went from short-story writer to penning Broadway plays and TV movies, has died. He was 88. The WGA said he died Wednesday at West Hills (CA) Medical Center after a major stroke.
Born on August 29, 1927, in Indiana, Prideaux moved to New York initially to pursue an acting career but gravitated toward writing short stories for Ladies Home Journal and Playboy. He eventually became a member of off-off Broadway’s Barr-Wilder-Albee Playwrights Unit, where his first play, Postcards, went from off-off-Broadway to off-Broadway and then to Broadway in 1970.
Prideaux’s first TV writing credits were soap opera The Secret Storm and Lemonade, an adaptation of his play for Hollywood Television Theatre. Katharine Hepburn later brought him to Hollywood to work on a screenplay project, which eventually was abandoned when she agreed to appear in the 1969 Broadway musical Coco.
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Prideaux’s play The Last of Mrs. Lincoln starred Julie Harris in one of her Tony-winning performances in 1973. She also starred in the 1976 TV movie adaptation. He teamed again with her and Geraldine Page for Broadway’s Mixed Couples in 1980. He also penned the 1978 telepic Return Engagement, starring Elizabeth Taylor, and three movies for television starring Hepburn: Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry with Harold Gould (1986), Laura Lansing Slept Here (1988) and The Man Upstairs (1992). A collection of Prideaux’s memoirs, Knowing Hepburn and Other Curious Experiences, was published in 1996.
He is survived by nieces Kelly Stokoe and Patricia Lee Olival and nephews Jeffrey, William and David Priddy. A memorial service is set for 2 PM November 29 at Pierce Brothers Memorial Park and Cemetery.
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