Fred Mustard Stewart, 74; novelist’s works were adapted for film

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Fred Mustard Stewart, 74, who wrote bestselling novels that were adapted for film and television, died of cancer Feb. 7 at his home in Manhattan, his wife, literary agent Joan Stewart, told the New York Times.

Stewart wrote horror stories, family sagas and action-adventure potboilers that got mixed reviews from critics but were popular with readers.

His first novel, “The Mephisto Waltz” (1969), was a sinister tale about a writer and the elderly concert pianist he becomes involved with. Stewart’s story was adapted into a film starring Alan Alda in 1971.

“Six Weeks,” his 1976 novel about a terminally ill preteen ballerina, was turned into a 1982 film featuring Mary Tyler Moore.


Stewart turned to multigenerational sagas with “Century” (1981) and “Ellis Island” (1982); the latter was adapted into a CBS miniseries in 1984.

He followed the melodramatic twists and turns of the Savage family starting in 1996 with “The Magnificent Savages” and ending three books later with “The Savages in Love and War” (2001).

He got his unusual middle name from his Irish mother’s side of the family. Stewart, born in Anderson, Ind., earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Princeton University and studied classical piano at Juilliard.