A writer for as long as he could remember,
That commitment to story and dedication to language helped cement Pierson as one of the top screenwriters of his generation, landing him three Academy Award nominations, and one win for his 1975 script
Pierson died Sunday evening atCedars-Sinai Medical Centerin Los Angeles after battling a short illness, said his manager, Susan Landau. He was 87.
The son of an entrepreneur father and a screenwriter mother, Pierson began his career as an entertainment correspondent for Time magazine, before breaking into television as a story editor for the western "Have Gun - Will Travel." He worked on many television shows and moved into the movie business with his first film script, "Cat Ballou." The comedic western starring
In 1975, Pierson nabbed
"It was confusing; there were such contradictory statements made about him and who he was by everybody who knew him," said Pierson, in an interview with Contemporary Authors. "It took me several months before I was able to conceive of him, because until you have a character whose motivations you understand, there's no way of writing him consistently."
Though Pierson primarily identified with being a writer, sitting down most mornings at 10 and writing whatever popped into his head until lunchtime, he transitioned to directing with the 1970 film "The Looking Glass War." He also directed the 1976 remake of "A Star Is Born," starring
Pierson spent much of his career in service to the Hollywood organizations that helped make him a success. He was president of the
"Young rock 'n' rollers always look to the old bluesmen as models of how to keep their art strong and rebellious into older years. For screenwriters, Frank has been our old blues master for a long time,"
Pierson, born May 12, 1925, in Chappaqua, N.Y., served in the Army during
Most recently, Pierson was working as a consulting producer and writer for the television shows "Mad Men" and
"He was a writer's writer: sharp and funny and clever and, most importantly, honest about the details that make one human," Matthew Weiner, the creator of "Mad Men," said in a statement. "He was a great artist and made everyone around him better."
Pierson is survived by his wife, Helene; his children, Michael and Eve, and five grandchildren.
A private service will be held this week. According to the academy, a public memorial is planned.