Peter Shaffer Dies: Oscar-Winning ‘Amadeus’ Writer Was 90

Associated Press

Sir Peter Shaffer, the English playwright and screenwriter who scored an Oscar for Amadeus and a nomination for Equus, died today in a hospice in County Cork, Ireland. He was 90.

Shaffer wrote at least 18 plays including Amadeus, Equus and The Royal Hunt of the Sun, the last of which was the first show produced by the UK’s National Theatre company in 1964. The first cast of his next work, 1965’s Black Comedy, featured Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi and Albert Finney.


Amadeus (1984), which won eight Oscars including Best Picture, is fictionalized account of the life of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce), as told by his contemporary Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), who’d been committed to an insane asylum. The play premiered in 1979 at the National Theatre, which has been planning its first revival of the show for next season.

Equus debuted in 1973 and moved to Broadway the following year, winning the Tony Award for Best Play. The Main Stem production starred Peter Firth as young man with an obsessive fascination with horses and Anthony Hopkins as the psychiatrist working with him. First reprised his role for the 1977 movie version, with Richard Burton playing the shrink. Both earned Oscar noms along with Shaffer’s for adapting his play. A 2008 Broadway revival starred 18-year-old Daniel Radcliffe in his Broadway debut, taking time out from his Harry Potter role.

Other Shaffer-penned plays that were made into films, TV movies or series include Terror in der Waage, Five Finger Exercise, The Public Eye and O Poder da Górgone.

Survivors include Shaffer’s brother, Brian; nephews Milo and Mark; and nieces Cressida and Claudia.

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