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'An Unmarried Woman' writer-director Paul Mazursky dies

By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Paul Mazursky, the writer and director behind such Oscar-nominated films as "An Unmarried Woman" and "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," has died in Los Angeles. He was 84.

Mazursky, who also co-created "The Monkees" television series, died on Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from pulmonary cardiac arrest, said family spokeswoman Nancy Willen.

He first broke into Hollywood as an actor in Stanley Kubrick's 1953 film "Fear and Desire" and appeared in episodes of the "Twilight Zone" and the 1955 drama "Blackboard Jungle."

But Mazursky was best known for his work behind the camera, particularly for his ability to tap into topics such as marriage and divorce during the social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s.

His first credit as a film writer was the 1968 Peter Sellers comedy "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas."

Mazursky directed his first feature, the comedy-drama "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" starring Natalie Wood, the following year and earned the first of his four career Academy Award nominations for screenwriting.

It was the start of a string of acclaimed films written and directed by Mazursky, including 1974's "Harry and Tonto," 1978's "An Unmarried Woman" and 1989's "Enemies: A Love Story."

Mazursky also earned a best picture Oscar nomination for "An Unmarried Woman," starring Jill Clayburgh as a wealthy New York housewife whose husband leaves her for a younger woman.

Mazursky, who was born Irwin Mazursky in Brooklyn, New York, in 1930, also appeared in several episodes of the HBO comedy "Curb Your Enthusiasm" between 2004 and 2009.

His other notable feature films include "Moscow on the Hudson" in 1984 and "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" in 1986.

Earlier this year, the Writers Guild of America honored Mazursky with a lifetime achievement award.

He is survived by his wife, Betsy Purdy Mazursky, and daughter Jill Mazursky.

(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Gunna Dickson)

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