Dwight Taylor, playwright, screenwriter and novelist who authored the early musicals that made household words of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, died Thursday--his 85th birthday--at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills.
At his death, the son of actress Laurette Taylor had amassed more than 20 screenplay and five stage credits, in addition to writing teleplays for "The Thin Man," periodic episodes of "Batman" and the introductory pilot for "The Loretta Young Show" in 1953.
His father was Charles A. Taylor, a noted playwright at the turn of the century who catapulted his wife to stardom in "Rags to Riches" in 1903, a year after Dwight's birth. And it was the theater that first attracted the Taylors' son.
His first writing effort was "Don't Tell George," which opened and closed the same year, 1928. After another unsuccessful effort, "Lipstick," Taylor wrote the book for the musical "The Gay Divorcee" and was asked to adapt the acclaimed stage production for RKO Studios in 1934, when they first teamed Rogers and Astaire.
His other film credits from that time include the Astaire-Rogers hits, "Top Hat" and "Follow the Fleet," and the 1937 classic "The Awful Truth," starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne.
He also wrote or shared writing credit for "Gangway," "When Tomorrow Comes," "Today We Live," "Paris in the Spring," "The Foxes of Harrow" and "Boy on a Dolphin."
A founding member of the Writers Guild of America, West, Taylor returned to stage work in 1950 when he co-wrote "Out of This World," the Cole Porter musical.
His books include "Joy Ride," a memoir of his famous parents, "Blood and Thunder" and "What Sank the Dreamboat."
Taylor received two Box Office Blue Ribbon Awards--for "Top Hat" and "Boy on a Dolphin"--and the Golden Lion Award for "Boy on a Dolphin," the Sophia Loren film.
He is survived by two daughters, a son, five grandchildren and a sister. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at St. Victor's Roman Catholic Church in West Hollywood.