Bruce Jay Friedman
Bruce Jay Friedman
|Died||June 3, 2020 (aged 90)|
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S
|Education||University of Missouri|
|Spouse(s)||Ginger Howard (divorced)|
Bruce Jay Friedman (April 26, 1930 – June 3, 2020) was an American novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and actor. He was noted for his versatility of writing in both literature and pop culture. He was also a trailblazer in the style of modern American black humor. The themes he wrote about reflected the major changes taking place in society during the 1960s and 1970s. Many of his stories were inspired by the events of his personal life.
Early life[edit source | edit]
Friedman was born in New York City on April 26, 1930, and was raised in The Bronx. His father, Irving, worked at a company selling women’s apparel; his mother, Mollie (Liebowitz), was a regular theatergoer. His family was of Jewish descent. Friedman attended DeWitt Clinton High School before enrolling at the University of Missouri, having applied unsuccessfully to Columbia University. He majored in journalism. He subsequently joined the United States Air Force and wrote for the military publication "Air Training".
Career[edit source | edit]
After he finished his two-year stint in the military, Friedman went back to The Bronx. He wrote his first short story titled "Wonderful Golden Rule Days", which he sold to The New Yorker. He was later employed by Magazine Management Company in 1954, working for many of the era's famous men's magazines. Friedman ended up as an executive editor in charge of the magazines Men (not the present magazine of the same title), Male, and Man's World.
Friedman published Stern, the first of his eight novels, in 1962. This was followed shortly by "A Mother’s Kisses" (1964) and his first play, Scuba Duba (1967). The success of these three works led to him being named "The Hottest Writer of the Year" by The New York Times Magazine in 1968. He switched his focus to writing movies after the 1970s. Although he wrote several novels in the 1980s and 1990s that received "respectful reviews", critics ascertained that they lacked the same level of novelty as compared with his previous works. In 1988, he appeared in Woody Allen's film Another Woman. His collection of short fiction, Three Balconies, appeared in September 2008, from Biblioasis, who also published his 2011 memoir Lucky Bruce. A collection of four plays [Scuba Duba, Steambath, Sardines and The Trial], in a collection titled "3.1 Plays," was published in January 2012 by Leaping Lion Books.
Style[edit source | edit]
Friedman was a trailblazer of writing modern American black humor, together with his peers Joseph Heller, Stanley Elkin, and Thomas Pynchon. The style was given this name in part because of the 1965 anthology by the same name that he edited. He was described by The New York Times as a "deadpan prose stylist" who was a "savage social satirist". The themes of his writings reflected the social cataclysm that took place during the 1960s and 1970s. He utilized his experiences from that time to touch upon race and gender relations. He also made use of other experiences from his personal life to base his writings on.
Personal life and death[edit source | edit]
Friedman married his first wife, Ginger Howard, in 1954. Together, they had three sons: Josh, Kipp and Drew. They divorced in 1978, after their marriage “crumbled like an old graham cracker”. Five years later, he married Patricia O'Donohue. They remained married until his death, and had one daughter (Molly).
Friedman died on June 3, 2020 at his home in Brooklyn. He was 90, and had been suffering from neuropathy in the years leading up to his death. According to his son, Josh, the cause of death had not yet been determined.
Novels[edit source | edit]
- Stern (1962)
- A Mother's Kisses (1964)
- The Dick (1970)
- About Harry Towns (1974)
- Tokyo Woes (1985)
- The Current Climate (1989)
- A Father's Kisses (1996)
- Violencia!: A Musical Novel (2002)
Short fiction[edit source | edit]
- Black Humor (1965) (editor)
- Black Angels: Stories (1966)
- Far from the City of Class (1963)
- Let's Hear It for a Beautiful Guy (1984)
- The Collected Short Fiction of Bruce Jay Friedman (1995)
- Sexual Pensees (with Andre Barbe) (2006)
- Three Balconies: Stories and a Novella (2008)
Filmography[edit source | edit]
- The Heartbreak Kid (1972) (screenplay by Neil Simon) (based on the short story "A Change of Plan")
- The Ted Bessell Show (1973) (TV)
- Fore Play (1975) (Story)
- Stir Crazy (1980)
- Doctor Detroit (with Robert Boris and Carl Gottlieb) (1983)
- Splash (with Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel) (1984)
- The Lonely Guy (1984) (screenplay by Neil Simon, Ed. Weinberger and Stan Daniels) (based on his book The Lonely Guy's Book of Life)
- Brazzaville Teen-Ager (2013) (screenplay with Michael Cera; based on the short story)
Plays[edit source | edit]
- Scuba Duba (1967)
- Steambath (1970)
- Have You Spoken to Any Jews Lately? (1995)
- 3.1 Plays (2012)
Non-fiction[edit source | edit]
- The Rascal's Guide (editor and contributor) (1959)
- The Lonely Guy's Book of Life (1978)
- Even the Rhinos Were Nymphos (2000)
- The Slightly Older Guy (2001)
- Lucky Bruce: A Literary Memoir (2011)
References[edit source | edit]
- Weber, Bruce (June 3, 2020). "Bruce Jay Friedman, 90, Author With a Darkly Comic Worldview, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
- Taub, Michael; Shatzky, Joel (1997). Contemporary Jewish-American Novelists: A Bio-critical Sourcebook. Greenwood. pp. 92–96. ISBN 978-0313294624.
- Greenfield, Josh. "Bruce Jay Friedman Is Hanging by His Thumbs", The New York Times, January 14, 1968. Accessed September 15, 2009. "While attending DeWitt Clinton High School, Friedman became interested in writing for the first time."
- "Biblioasis site for Lucky Bruce" "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-16. Retrieved 2011-11-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Accessed November 5, 2011.
- "Leaping Lion Books Blog"  Accessed November 5, 2011.
- Italie, Hillel (June 3, 2020). "'Splash,' 'Stern' writer Bruce Jay Friedman dead at 90". Associated Press. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
- Leland, John (October 7, 2011). "Inside Bruce Jay Friedman's Pulp Arcadia". The New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
- Friedman, Bruce Jay (2001). Violencia!: A Musical Novel. Grove Press. ISBN 9780802138750.
- Marin, Rick (November 12, 2000). "Out and About With the Once But No Longer So Lonely Guy". The New York Times. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
- Friedman, Bruce Jay (2006). Sexual Pensees. Playboy Press. ISBN 9780802138750.
- Taylor, Charles (December 19, 2008). "Last of the Summer Wine". The New York Times. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
- Terrace, Vincent (January 17, 2020). Encyclopedia of Television Pilots: 2,470 Films Broadcast 1937–2019, 2d ed. McFarland. p. 243. ISBN 9781476638102.
- Powell, Larry; Garrett, Tom (December 19, 2013). The Films of John G. Avildsen: Rocky, The Karate Kid and Other Underdogs. McFarland. p. 243. ISBN 9780786490479.
- McNary, Dave (June 3, 2020). "Bruce Jay Friedman, Oscar-Nominated Screenwriter of 'Splash,' Dies at 90". Variety. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
- Matheson, Whitney (April 23, 2013). "Have you seen Michael Cera's new short film?". USA Today. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
- Canby, Vincent (January 24, 1995). "Theater Review: Have You Spoken to Any Jews Lately?". The New York Times. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
- Friedman, Bruce Jay (2012). 3.1 Plays. Leaping Lion Books. ISBN 9780987824103.
- Friedman, Bruce Jay (1959). The Rascal's Guide. Zenith Books.
[edit source | edit]
- Audio: Bruce Jay Friedman at the Key West Literary Seminar, 2005
- Bruce Jay Friedman on IMDb
- Bruce Jay Friedman at AllMovie
- Biblioasis site for Lucky Bruce
- Leaping Lion Books Blogsite following the publication of "3.1 Plays"