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​"Rebel Without a Cause" screenwriter Stewart Stern dies at 92

Two-time Oscar-nominee Stewart Stern's career included writing scripts for films by Paul Newman and Dennis Hopper.

Writers Guild of America-West

LOS ANGELES - Screenwriter and two-time Academy Award nominee Stewart Stern, best known for writing the screenplay for Nicholas Ray's "Rebel Without a Cause," has died. He was 92.

The Writers Guild of America West says Stern died Monday at a Seattle, Washington, hospital after a battle with cancer.

Stern penned the scripts for Dennis Hopper's "The Last Movie," the Marlon Brando-starrer ''The Ugly American," Paul Newman's ''Rachel, Rachel," the 1976 TV miniseries "Sybil," and other films and television movies during a Hollywood career that spanned more than 50 years.

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Natalie Wood and James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955).
Warner Brothers

He earned his first Oscar nomination for Fred Zinnemann's 1951 drama, "Teresa," about an Italian war bride, and received a second Oscar nod for "Rebel Without a Cause," the film that catapulted James Dean to stardom.

His other credits include writing or co-writing "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams," "The Rack," "The Outsider," "Thunder in the Sun," and the TV movie "A Christmas to Remember."

Stern's 1989 book, "No Tricks in My Pocket: Paul Newman Directs," told of his experiences on the set of the 1973 TV film of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie."

Born on March 22, 1922, and raised in New York City, Stern was a U.S. Army vet who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and who received a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and a Combat Infantry Badge.

Stern had Hollywood connections: He was a nephew of the founder of Paramount Pictures, Adolph Zukor, and cousin to the Loews, who had controlled MGM.

During the 1950s, Stern wrote several productions for the TV anthologies "Playhouse 90," "Goodyear Playhouse," and "The Gulf Playhouse." He won an Emmy Award for "Sybil," in which Sally Field played a woman suffering from multiple personality disorder.

In the 1980s he served as a guest lecturer and instructor at USC's Film Writing Program, and later taught screenwriting at the University of Washington.

Stern also co-founded (with actor Tom Skerritt) Seattle's TheFilmSchool, and taught workshops at the Sundance Film Institute's Screenwriters Lab.

"Stewart Stern lived so many lives!" said Writers Guild of America West Vice President Howard A. Rodman. "He was a great screenwriter, a tireless mentor, a WWII hero, an interlocutor with the primates at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle -- and a man possessed of greater generosity of spirit than most anyone I've ever met. He had such access to his feelings, and in his presence you had the same. In so many conversations I can recall having with him I ended up near tears -- not in sorrow, but in recognition of the truths he so wisely and gently shared.

"This is the saddest thing. He was 92 but should have been with us forever."

Stern is the subject of an upcoming documentary from director Christopher McQuarrie.

He is survived by his wife, Marilee Stiles Stern.