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Francis Feighan; Created Scriptwriting Software

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Francis X. Feighan, screenwriter and publicist who created the first computer software program for scriptwriters, has died. He was 53.

Feighan died Dec. 27 of a heart attack in his San Fernando Valley home.

His scripts included episodes of “Barney Miller,” “Happy Days” and “Too Close for Comfort.” He publicized such Los Angeles stage productions as “Hair,” “Godspell” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

But Feighan was probably best known to colleagues and fans alike as the creator of “Collaborator,” a software program that helps writers plan and develop a story and its characters. He also operated a free help line for customers. The program appealed to would-be writers as well as seasoned professionals, and Feighan was selling about 4,000 programs a year.

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“Collaborator,” which Feighan developed along with Cary Brown and Louis Garfinkle, asks a writer questions about the script beginning with the title, intended audience, theme and premise, a three-sentence description of the plot, time frame and physical settings. For characters, the software flashes a form not unlike a job application, prodding the writer to fill in details.

A native of Cleveland, Feighan studied at Georgetown University and John Carroll University in Cleveland, where he had a fellowship in acting at the Cleveland Playhouse. He spent two years in Dublin writing scripts for Ardmore Studios and studying his Irish background. He moved to Los Angeles as a theatrical publicist in 1966.

Feighan is survived by his companion, Lisa Blary Thornburg; his son, Christopher; his mother, Rosemary, and two sisters and three brothers.

A memorial gathering is scheduled Sunday, Jan. 19, at 2 p.m. in the home of Feighan’s aunt, Betty Ling, 808 Adelaide Place, Santa Monica.

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