Maurice Zimring, 96; Screenwriter Created ‘Black Lagoon’ Story

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Maurice Zimring, 96, who wrote the story for the 1954 cult classic film “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” died of pneumonia Nov. 17 at his home in Westwood, said his son, UC Berkeley professor Franklin E. Zimring.

A native of Iowa, the elder Zimring moved to Los Angeles in the 1930s and -- using the pen name Maurice Zimm -- began his writing career in radio with mystery and suspense stories for “Hollywood Star Playhouse” and other dramatic showcases. When MGM bought his radio play for the Barbara Stanwyck 1953 vehicle “Jeopardy,” Zimring moved to motion pictures.

His screen treatment for Universal Pictures created the first “Creature” film, which became a three-picture franchise in the 1950s. In addition, he wrote 1955’s “The Prodigal,” starring Lana Turner, and was a contract writer for the “Perry Mason” television series.”

Zimring moved with his wife, Molly, to Hilo, Hawaii, in 1960, where they created a real estate development. He also was an administrator for Peace Corps training and at the University of Hawaii’s East West Center. He returned to Los Angeles in 1995 after the death of his wife.