Award-Winning Film Director Frank Pierson Dies At 87

According to Green Bay Classic Movies Examiner, Kellie Haulotte, film director and screenwriter Frank Pierson, 87, passed away in Los Angeles, California, on Monday, July 23, 2012.


Frank Pierson, Wikipedia states, was born in Chappaqua, New York. Apparently the entertainment business affected him before he even affected it, as his parents, family and their lives were the subject of the 1945 film Roughly Speaking, starring Rosalind Russell and Jack Carson as his parents.

George Kennedy
Actor who worked with Pierson, George Kennedy

Roughly Speaking’s film plot involves a strong-minded mother keeping her family afloat through World War I and the Great Depression. The movie was based on the autobiography of the same name, published in 1943, by Louise Randall Pierson (Frank’s mother).


Pierson attended Harvard, and he got his break in Hollywood in 1958 as scripted editor for “Have Gun, Will Travel.”

Al Pacino
Actor who worked with Pierson, Al Pacino

Television Writer

This, then writer, continued to write for television. He wrote such shows as “Naked City,” “Route 66” and others.

Film Screenwriter

Pierson did not stop with television, as he went on to write or co-write several notable films, including Cat Ballou (1965) and Cool Hand Luke (1967) which were both nominated for Academy Awards. He wrote Dog Day Afternoon (1975), which won him an Academy Award. In addition, he also directed and contributed to the screenplay of A Star Is Born (1976).


Paul Newman
Actor who worked with Pierson, Paul Newman

Pierson directed several notable films produced for television, including Dirty Pictures, Citizen Cohn, Conspiracy, and Somebody Has To Shoot the Picture.


His direction on Conspiracy won a Directors’ Guild Award for Best Television Movie, and his second Peabody and BAFTA Award.

In 2003, Pierson was the recipient of the Austin Film Festival’s Distinguished Screenwriter Award.

Writers Guild of America

Frank Pierson was also President of the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) from 1981-1983 and again from 1993-1995. He, as well, was President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) from 2001-2005.

Last Credits

As screenwriter, the last three of Pierson’s most recent works:

  • Presumed Innocent (1990)
  • The Good Wife (2010)
  • Mad Men (2012)

    Death and Condolences

    According to Pierson’s family, he died from natural causes after a short illness. He is survived by his wife, two children

    and five grandchildren.

    Condolences go out to family, friends and fans.