SOURCE: Murray Weissman & Associates

September 20, 2010 19:03 ET

Screenwriter Irving Ravetch ('Hud,' 'Norma Rae,' 'Conrack') Dead at 89

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - September 20, 2010) -  Award-winning screenwriter-producer Irving Ravetch died yesterday at Cedars Sinai Hospital of a lingering illness. He was 89.

He and his wife and collaborator Harriet Frank, Jr. are two-time Academy Award nominees for writing "Hud" (1963) and "Norma Rae" (1979). They co-wrote eighteen other films, many of which are regarded as some of the finest Hollywood films produced during the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

From 1957, Ravetch and Frank, Jr. collaborated on writing such other critically-acclaimed screenplays as "Hombre," "Conrack," "The Reivers," "The Long Hot Summer," "The Sound and the Fury," "Home From the Hill," "The Cowboys," "Murphy's Romance" and "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs." "Hud" won the Best Screenplay Award from the New York Film Critics Circle while "Norma Rae" was also a nominee for a Golden Globe Award. In 1988, Ravetch and Frank, Jr. were awarded the Writers Guild of America's Laurel Award for Screen Writing Achievement. In addition to co-writing "Hud," "Hombre" and "The Reivers," Ravetch served those films as producer.

Ravetch/Frank-written films also contributed to Academy Award wins for Sally Field ("Norma Rae") and Patricia Neal ("Hud") for Best Actress and Supporting Actress, respectively. Three of their films starred the late Paul Newman ("Hud," "Hombre" and "The Long Hot Summer").

Six of the Ravetch/Frank, Jr. films were directed by the late Martin Ritt. Mark Rydell directed two. In an introduction to a New American Library book reprinting three Ravetch/Frank, Jr. screenplays, all directed by Ritt, he said the following about his collaboration with the Ravetch's:

"I don't know of any better screenwriters than Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank, Jr. They are absolutely the best, on every level. I've enjoyed collaborating with them, and I know that we've done work as good as any that has been done in Hollywood. Our whole lives are intertwined in this work, from 'The Long, Hot Summer,' back in the fifties, on. I am proud of the movies we've made together and consider several among them the finest of my career.

"I have generally been faithful to the Ravetches' material because I respect their writing and I respect their impulses, even when at times we've disagreed. Like all good writers, Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank, Jr., value language, but at times language has gotten in the way of what they've wanted to do in a particular scene, and I've had to ask them to make changes. Fortunately, we communicate very well. The Ravetches are sensitive to my opinion, as I am to theirs. We are strong personalities, but after all these years we speak in a kind of shorthand -- we understand each other implicitly.

"Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank, Jr., believe in what they write. I also believe in what they write, and I would hire them to do any kind of picture. However, I am aware as I think they are too, that certain things -- light comedy, for example -- aren't as good for them as more serious subjects. This is true of me as well. We have discovered, or perhaps developed, our strengths together.

"I would never fail to do a movie with the Ravetches that they wanted to do. I might criticize, I might suggest changes, but I would make it anyway. I feel I owe them, as I feel they owe me. It's not written anywhere that we have to agree. That's not the nature of the creative process. But they are my friends and my genuine collaborators, and I believe the body of our work reflects the success of this collaboration."

Ravetch was born Nov, 14, 1920, in Newark, N,J. He is survived by wife Harriet Frank, Jr.; sister Merona Frank of Hollywood; and brother Herbert Ravetch of Chatsworth, California, a retired President of Pierce College. His father was Rabbi Isadore Shalom Ravetch, who until his death headed a congregation in Long Beach, California.

Services will be private.

Note: Celebrities who might be sought for other observations re Irving Ravetch are director Mark Rydell ( ("Cowboys," "The Reivers") and actress Sally Field ("Norma Rae," "Murphy's Romance"). Field's publicist is Heidi Schaeffer ( Also, nephew Joshua Ravetch (contact info below).

For images of Ravetch contact Nicole Bamber at

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