William Bowers, a screen writer and producer who amassed nearly 50 credits in a 39-year film career, died March 27 of respiratory failure at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills. He was 71.
Bowers was a reporter for the Long Beach Independent-Press-Telegram when he wrote his first stage play. "Where Do We Go From Here." His second, "Back to Eden," was written while he was working as a reporter for the New York World-Telegram.
The two plays led to work in radio. He wrote for "The Helen Hayes Theatre," among other shows.
He turned to film writing after working as Hollywood correspondent for the National Education Assn. and wrote "My Favorite Spy," featuring Kay Kyser and his orchestra, in 1942.
Over the years, he wrote "Night and Day," based on the life of composer Cole Porter, "The Web," "Cry Danger," "The Best Things in Life Are Free," "Alias Jesse James" and "Support Your Local Sheriff," among other screenplays.
He was nominated twice for Academy awards --once for "The Gunfighter" and then for "The Sheepmen."
At the request of his friend Francis Ford Coppola, Bowers appeared as an actor in one film, "Godfather II." He took the role of the chairman of the Senate investigating committee.
His television scripts include "The Wild Wild West Revisited" and "More Wild Wild West."
Bowers, who retired in 1981, is survived by his wife, Marjorie, a fashion designer for films, two sons, a daughter and a granddaughter.