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'Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice' Filmmaker Paul Mazursky Dies at 84

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Paul Mazursky (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for WGAw)
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Paul Mazursky, a filmmaker who captured the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s and may have best been known for Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, died at 84 in Los Angeles.

Family spokesperson Nancy Willen announced today that the celebrated director, screenwriter and actor died from cardiac arrest on Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Mazursky was born in 1930 in Brooklyn, New York, where he graduated from Brooklyn College. Before he became a filmmaker, he snagged his first acting role in Stanley Kubrick's 1953 film, Fear and Desire, which later led him to a successful career in acting. (He recently made a return to the screen as Norm on Curb Your Enthusiasm and a small poker dealer role on The Sopranos.) Mazursky later made the switch from acting to TV writing for The Danny Kaye Show and wrote the pilot for The Monkees TV series.

However, most notable were the dramatic comedy films he directed (and many he also wrote) in the 1960s and 1970s that now serve as a time capsule of the cultural atmosphere at that time. His social commentary on marriage, feminism, fidelity, psychotherapy and divorce made him a zeitgeist. His 1969 movie, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, pushed the envelope on sex; 1974's Harry & Tonto told a story on a retiree dealing with old age; and in 1978's An Unmarried Woman, about a woman being liberated after divorce.

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Mazursky told the Chicago Tribune in an interview: "I seem to have a natural bent toward humor and I seem to make people laugh, but I think there is in me a duality. I like to make people cry also. … I like to deal with relationships. The perfect picture for me does all that."

Here is the trailer for An Unmarried Woman:

Recently, he has been honored for his lifetime achievements. Mazursky received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in December, and was honored in February with a Writers Guild of America's Laurel Award for Screen Writing Achievement.

Here is a video of him receiving his star:

“No screenwriter has probed so deep under the pampered skin of this fascinating, maligned decade,” critic Richard Corliss wrote about Mazursky in the 70s.

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Leaving Las Vegas director Mike Figgis tweeted today about Mazursky's death:

Mazursky is survived by his wife Betsey Purdy Mazursky, who was married to him for 63 years and played some parts in his films, and daughter Jill Mazursky, a writer and producer. His older daughter, Meg Mazusky, died in 2009.