EXPIRED: 01/17/10 – Erich Segal, 72, made a lot of people cry in the 60’s. He also made a lot of people want to drop acid.
How’d he do it? He wrote the screenplays to the movies Love Story, a real tearjerker, and Yellow Submarine, the Beatles psychedelic animated trip fest.
A Harvard graduate, Segal grew up in an atypical Brooklyn family, having attending Midwood High School. His father, a rabbi, pushed him hard and he ended up getting both a Masters and Doctorate degree from Harvard.
In 1968 he made the jump into screenwriting and wrote the screenplay for The Beatles’ 1968 motion picture, Yellow Submarine. This made him a bit of a hippie hero and he tried his hand at several other screenplays. One story – inspired by a conversation he overheard in about a girl who supported her husband through graduate school and then died – was shopped around was roundly rejected, so he instead turned it into a novel. The book, Love Story, sold like hotcakes, being translated into 33 languages, and the movie version was an international hit as well. It ended up being the highest-grossing film of 1971.
The theme song, which won an Oscar, could bring a tear to an eye all by itself, as Andy Williams sang it: “Where do I begin?”
Segal received an Oscar nomination for Love Story but was reluctant to write another after fame threatened to ruin his teaching career — he taught Greek and Latin lit at Harvard, Yale and Princeton. But he finally gave in and wrote a sequel, Oliver’s Story, in 1977.
The pay was good so more scripts followed: A Change of Seasons in 1980; Man, Woman and Child in 1982. Novels included The Class, Doctors, and Prizes. What many people don’t know is that during much of this time he was fighting his own battle with Parkinson’s a diagnoses he received over 25 years ago.