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Harry J. Essex; Screenwriter of ‘Creature From the Black Lagoon’

Harry J. Essex, 86, versatile writer who spawned a cult following with his screenplay “Creature From the Black Lagoon.” A native New Yorker, Essex was educated at St. John’s University and served in the Army during World War II. He began his career as a playwright and enjoyed success on Broadway with such plays as “Something for Nothing,” “Neighborhood Affair,” “One for the Dame” and “Twilight.” He was brought to Hollywood by Columbia and subsequently wrote for RKO, Universal, Warner Bros. and MGM. In addition to the 3-D “Creature” epic, Essex wrote “He Walked by Night,” “The Killer That Stalked New York,” “It Came From Outer Space,” “The Lonely Man,” “The Sons of Katie Elder,” “Man and Boy” and “The Amigos.” For television, he wrote episodes of “The Untouchables” and “Playhouse 90.” Among Essex’s novels were “I Put My Right Foot In,” “Man and Boy” (on which the motion picture was based) and “Marina.” Saluting Essex’s enduring career, his doctor, David Frisch, said: “If he were a play, one would say he had a great run.” On Feb. 6 in Los Angeles of a heart attack.


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