Alan Surgal, who wrote director Arthur Penn’s 1965 jazzy cult classic Mickey One starring Warren Beatty, died January 3 at his home in Beverly Hills. His death, at 100, was confirmed today by his son Jon Surgal.
In addition to Jon, he is survived by his wife, Florence Small (with whom he produced TV-movies in the 1970s and ’80s), and son Tom. Memorial plans are pending.
Surgal was born in Chicago, 1916, and attended the University of Chicago before beginning a writing career for nightclub comics and radio. Stationed in London during World War II, he wrote for the Armed Forces Network, the BBC and Yank, the enlisted men’s weekly magazine. After the war he resumed his radio career, then turned to television as a staff writer for Robert Montgomery Presents.
Surgal intended Mickey One as a stage play, but revised it into a film script after consulting Penn. With its surrealism (and Stan Getz improvisations), cinematic experimentation and moody existentialism, the film has developed a strong following over the decades. Released during a newspaper strike in New York, it initially flopped. A restoration by the UCLA Film & Television Archive was conducted under the supervision of Martin Scorsese.