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George W. George, at 87; writer, producer of films and Broadway plays

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Alison J. Peterson
New York Times News Service / November 20, 2007

NEW YORK - George W. George, a film and theatrical producer whose credits include the acclaimed film "My Dinner With André" as well as a run of successful Broadway productions, died Nov. 7 in Manhattan. He was 87.

The cause was complications of Parkinson's disease, his daughter Jennifer said.

Mr. George produced "My Dinner With André" with Beverly Karp in 1981. The film, directed by Louis Malle, consists almost entirely of dialogue between André Gregory and Wallace Shawn playing old acquaintances who discuss life, art, and reality over a long dinner at a restaurant.

"André" opened to little fanfare and sparse audiences. But riding a wave of critical acclaim, it became an unlikely success, making more than $5 million in the United States, respectable box office at the time for a low-budget independent film.

Mr. George made his debut as a film producer with the 1957 documentary "The James Dean Story," which he produced and directed with Robert Altman. Other films he produced included "Night Watch" (1973) starring Elizabeth Taylor, and "Rich Kids" (1979), written by his wife, Judith Ross George.

Mr. George's Broadway career started in 1964 with "Dylan," a play by Sidney Michaels starring Alec Guinness as Dylan Thomas. Almost simultaneously, he had another hit with "Any Wednesday," a comedy starring Sandy Dennis and Gene Hackman, which played across the street from "Dylan" and ran for more than two years. He produced seven other Broadway shows, including "Ben Franklin in Paris," a musical starring Robert Preston; and the Alan Ayckbourn play "Bedroom Farce," which was nominated for the 1979 Tony Award for best play.

Not every show Mr. George produced fared so well. "Via Galactica," a Space Age musical, closed after seven performances, and "Happily Never After" dropped the curtains for good after only four shows.

Mr. George had a prolific career as a story and script writer for film and television in the 1950s and early 1960s. Among his credits, some shared with the writer George F. Slavin, were the films "The Nevadan" and "Smoke Signal."

George Warren Goldberg was born in Manhattan to Irma Seeman and the cartoonist Rube Goldberg, best known for his whimsical depictions of machines that perform simple tasks in amusingly complex ways.

Mr. George attended Williams College.

During World War II, Rube Goldberg often received hate mail for his political cartoons, Jennifer George said, and to protect his sons, Thomas and George, he insisted that they change their surnames. Thomas chose George, and George did the same, wanting to keep a sense of family cohesiveness.

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