Los Angeles (United States)
Best-selling author and screenwriter Herman Raucher, who received an Oscar nomination for his work on the coming-of-age drama 'Summer of '42,' has died, as per the Hollywood Reporter.
He was 95.
Raucher died of natural causes on Thursday at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, Connecticut, according to his daughter, Jenny Raucher.
Raucher, who began his career in live television, wrote screenplays for two Anthony Newley films: Sweet November (1968), directed by Robert Ellis Miller and starring Sandy Dennis, and Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? (1969), which also starred Joan Collins.
He was inspired by Bobbie Gentry's 1967 hit song when writing the script for Ode to Billy Joe (1976), a love drama starring Robby Benson and Glynis O'Connor and directed by Max Baer Jr.
While the Robert Mulligan-directed Summer of '42 (1971) was still in postproduction, someone suggested Raucher write a book to help publicise the Warner Bros. film, which featured Jennifer O'Neill, Gary Grimes, and Jerry Houser.
It took Raucher three or four weeks in a "stream of consciousness" to finish the book, which became a national best-seller before the film was shown in theatres. Both the film and the book are based on events that occurred to him when he was 14 years old during a summer in Nantucket.
"There were no cars. There were ferryboats," he recalled in a 2002 interview.
"People usually left waggons and such on the ferryboats so that when they got off, they could put whatever they wanted on them. Or they could take it to the grocery store and take it to their homes. And [an older woman he would meet] had no waggon. And I just carried her bags. And we became friendly."
Raucher made a name for himself with the revolutionary, racially heated Watermelon Man (1970), directed by Melvin Van Peebles, his sole studio feature. Godfrey Cambridge plays a white bigot who wakes up in his suburban house one morning as a black guy.
Raucher, who was born on April 13, 1928, grew up in Brooklyn and attended Erasmus High School and NYU. He began his writing career with one-hour dramas for prestigious network anthology series including Studio One, Goodyear Playhouse, and The Alcoa Hour.
Meanwhile, he was working for Walt Disney, whose firm was transitioning from animated pictures to live-action projects. The inauguration of Disneyland in 1955 and the enthusiasm that accompanied it also landed him a job, as per the Hollywood Reporter.
Raucher remained a creative director and board member of several New York advertising agencies before deciding to concentrate on his writing, which included the 1962 Broadway comedy Harold, starring Anthony Perkins and Don Adams, as well as six novels, including A Glimpse of Tiger, There Should Have Been Castles, and Maynard's House.
He also penned the Summer of '42 sequel, Class of '44, which reintroduced Grimes and Houser, and co-wrote The Other Side of Midnight with Sidney Sheldon.
After writing the script for Ode to Billy Joe, he wrote a novelization, similar to Summer of '42.
"Despite his successes on both the big and small screen as well as the stage, Raucher always felt most at home with novels, the one medium in which no one could change as much as a comma without his approval, a condition to which every writer aspires but very few achieve," his daughter noted.
His grandchildren, Samantha and Jamie, as well as another daughter, Jacqueline, are among the survivors. Mary Kathryn, his 42-year-old wife, passed away in 2002. She was a Broadway dancer and a student of George Balanchine at the School of American Ballet.