LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paul Mazursky, the innovative and versatile director who showed the absurdity of modern life in such movies as "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" and "An Unmarried Woman," has died. He was 84.
The filmmaker died of pulmonary cardiac arrest Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said Mazursky's spokeswoman Nancy Willen.
As a talented writer, actor, producer and director, Mazursky racked up five Oscar nominations, mostly for writing such films as "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" and "Enemies, A Love Story." He also created memorable roles for the likes of Art Carney, Jill Clayburgh and Natalie Wood. Later in life, Mazursky acted in such TV series as "The Sopranos" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and films such as "Carlito's Way" and "2 Days in the Valley."
"A true raconteur, Paul brought humor and spirit to the many guild meetings he attended during two decades of service to the DGA," said Directors Guild of America President Paris Barclay. "He shared his provocative views of humanity in his many films, but what he shared with us were quick quips, thoughtful responses and pointed anecdotes always geared toward making us think and feel."
He was born Irwin Mazursky in 1930 in Brooklyn. During the Depression, the family lived on the small wages his father earned as a laborer for the federal Works Progress Administration. When Mazursky graduated from high school, he changed his name from Irwin, which had hated, to Paul.
Mazursky had always dreamed of becoming an actor, and he appeared in student plays at Brooklyn College. With the school's permission, he flew to California to act in "Fear and Desire," director Stanley Kubrick's first film. When he received bad reviews, Mazursky buckled down to studying acting with a variety of teachers, including Lee Strasberg. But he found the most success behind the camera.