Barbara Turner

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Actor, Screenwriter
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Gloria Rose "Barbara" Turner (July 14, 1936 – April 5, 2016) was an American screenwriter and actress. 

She was notable for the intensive amount of research she conducted during the screenplay writing process.

Early life

Turner was born Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Pearl Turner (née Zisez) and Alexander Turner. Her parents were both fromAustrian Jewish families (her father was an immigrant, as were her maternal grandparents).

Turner attended University of Texas at Austin, where she studied acting. After a year of college, Turner moved back to New York, studying at Erwin Piscator's Dramatic Workshop and then with acting coach Paul Mann, where she met fellow actor, Vic Morrow.


Turner moved to Los Angeles after Morrow was cast in the 1955 film, Blackboard Jungle. During the 1950s and 1960s, Turner acted in many film and television productions, some of which included Playhouse 90Mike Hammer, and Ben Casey. Turner said that she began writing to fund her work as an actor.[6]:54 She and Morrow wrote a TV movie called Willie Loved Everybody that turned into a musical that they tried pitching with Elmer Bernstein, but were not successful in selling the concept and the two ended up separating and getting a divorce in 1964.

During the early 1960s, Turner met and became friends with director Robert Altman, first meeting while working on an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and then on his 1964 TV show, Nightmare in Chicago. During filming of Nightmare in Chicago, Turner met her second husband, producer and prolific director, Reza Badiyi, who encouraged her to write an adaptation of a Mira Michal short story from The New Yorker called "At Lake Laguna," which she brought to Altman to possibly make, but that fell apart right before production was scheduled to begin. Altman thought of Turner when he read John Haase's book, Me and the Arch Kook Petulia. Turner wrote the original adaptation, which became the Richard Lester film, Petulia.

Turner, Vic Morrow and Reza Badiyi were close friends and collaborators with the director Robert Altman, who many years later directed Leigh in two movies, Short Cuts (1993) and Kansas City (1996).

In 1966, Morrow directed his and Turner's screen adaptation of the Jean Genet play Deathwatch

In 1973, she wrote the screenplay for the TV movie The Affair, starring Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner. The film developed a cult following after it lapsed into public domain status. Turner's teleplay for the TV movie Freedom (1981), was based on her daughter Carrie's experiences in the 1970s as a teen runaway, played by real-life family friend Mare Winningham.

In 1992, Turner wrote an adaption of the Stephen King novel, Cujo, under the name Lauren Currier.

Turner wrote an unproduced screenplay about two friends of Dorothy Parker named Gerald and Sara Murphy. This work led to her daughter, Leigh, being cast in the 1994 Robert Altman produced film, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle.

In 1995, she teamed up with daughter Jennifer Jason Leigh to write and produce the screenplay for Georgia, a film depicting the troubled relationship between two singing sisters played by Leigh and Mare Winningham, who both won praise and several awards for their performances. The idea came from Leigh, who was on location shooting the 1991 film Rush and pitched the idea of two sisters who have varying degrees of skill as singer-songwriters. Turner created the script from that idea. It was financed by the French film production company, Ciby 2000, and Turner's daughter, Morrow, served as a technical consultant. Turner spent three years doing research, using the Seattle music scene as source and inspiration material.

In 2000, Turner’s screenplay adaption of the book Jackson Pollock: An American Saga by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith for theJackson Pollock biopic Pollock, also written by Susan Emswiller, became a successful film which won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Marcia Gay Harden and a Best Actor nomination for Ed Harris. She then collaborated with actress Neve Campbellon a screenplay named The Company (2003), about the inner workings of Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet, which was directed by Robert Altman.

In the fall of 2007, Turner appeared in a cameo role in the family drama-comedy Margot at the Wedding, with daughter Jennifer. She was also credited as a script consultant on the film.

In June 2010, it was announced that Turner and Jerry Stahl had written a screenplay for an HBO film about Ernest Hemingway and his relationship with Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway & Gellhorn; the film aired in 2012. James Gandolfini was executive producer of the film, which was directed by Philip Kaufman.[18]

At the time of her death, Turner had written the script to the not yet released Candice Bergen-produced film called, Knock Wood: Charlie McCarthy Project, which is a movie based on Bergen's 1983 memoir of the same name. The story, produced by James Francis Trezza and Pam Widener (who Turner worked with on Pollack), unfolds from the perspective of Edgar Bergen's famous and hugely popular wooden puppet, Charlie McCarthy.

Other long-time adaptations that were not produced but had been active in Hollywood were scripts based on Jane Smiley’s book, Barn Blind, Michael Frayn's Headlong, Jill Paton Walsh's Knowledge of Angels, and '"At Lake Laguna." Additional screenplays based on original work included Beautiful View, Once Again for Zelda, and Under Heaven.

Personal life

Turner was married twice. From 1957 to 1964 Turner was married to actor and frequent collaborator, Vic Morrow, with whom she had two daughters, Carrie Ann Morrow and actress Jennifer Jason Leigh. Turner and Morrow separated when Leigh was two years old. From 1968 to 1985 Turner was married to Iranian television director Reza Badiyi, with whom she had a daughter, the actress Mina Badie, also known as Mina Badiyi Chassler.

Selected filmography

  • 1966: Deathwatch (adaptation)
  • 1968: Petulia (adaptation)
  • 1973: The Affair (TV movie)
  • 1976: The Dark Side of Innocence (also known as The Hancocks (NBC pilot)
  • 1976: Widow (TV movie)
  • 1976: The Dark Side of Innocence (TV movie)
  • 1977: The War Between the Tates (TV movie) (adaptation)
  • 1981: Freedom (TV movie)
  • 1983: Sessions (TV movie), also producer
  • 1983: Cujo credited as Lauren Currier
  • 1987: Eye on the Sparrow (TV movie), also producer
  • 1992: Somebody's Daughter (TV movie)
  • 1994: Out of Darkness (TV movie)
  • 1995: Georgia, also producer
  • 2000: Pollock (adaptation)
  • 2003: The Company
  • 2012: Hemingway & Gellhorn (HBO) (TV movie), also executive producer
  • Unknown: Knock Wood: Charlie McCarthy Project[20]
  • 1955: Two-Gun Lady as Jenny Ivers
  • 1956: Medic (TV series) as Joyce in "The Glorious Red Gallagher"
  • 1957: Monster from Green Hell as Lorna Lorentz
  • 1957: M Squad (TV series) as Alice Snyder in "Street of Fear"
  • 1957: Suspicion (TV series) as Emily in "Heartbeat"
  • 1957: Mike Hammer (TV series) as Madeline Pope in "Now Die in It"
  • 1958: Schlitz Playhouse (TV series) as Rose Genilli in "Heroes Never Group Up"
  • 1958: Playhouse 90 (TV series) as Sandra in "Portrait of a Murderer"
  • 1958: The Frank Sinatra Show (TV series) as Shirley in "The Brownstone Incident"
  • 1958: Wink of an Eye as Judy Carlton
  • 1958: Mike Hammer (TV series) as Doris in "My Son and Heir"
  • 1960: The Lineup (TV series) as Eleanor Larsen in "Seven Sinners"
  • 1961: Operation Eichmann as Sara
  • 1961: Outlaws (TV series) as Mary Sawyer in "No Luck on Friday"
  • 1962: Ben Casey (TV series) as Rose Hill in "I Hear America Singing"
  • 1963: Alcoa Premiere (TV series) as Emma in "Lollipop Louie"
  • 1963: Channing (TV series) as Renate Thielman in "A Hall Full of Strangers"
  • 1963: Breaking Point (TV series) as Dorothy Oringer in "A Pelican in the Wilderness"
  • 1964: Kraft Suspense Theatre (TV series) as Bernadette in "Once Upon a Savage Night"
  • 1964: Nightmare in Chicago (TV movie)
  • 1965: Ben Casey (TV series) as Fanny Birnbaum in "A Nightingale Named Nathan"
  • 1966: The Virginian as Louise Devers in "Harvest of Strangers"
  • 1967: La vuelta del Mexicano
  • 1969: The Desperate Mission (TV movie) as The Farmer's Wife
  • 1970: Soldier Blue as Mrs. Long (uncredited)
  • 1974: En busca de un muro
  • 2007: Margot at the Wedding


  • 1968: WGA Awards, Best Written American Drama, Petulia to Lawrence Marcus (nominee)
  • 1976: Humanitas Prize, Widow (TV movie) (finalist)
  • 1978: Primetime Emmy Award, Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special, The War Between the Tates(nominee)
  • 1987: Christopher Award, Eye on the Sparrow
  • 1994: Humanitas Prize, 90 Minute Category, Out of Darkness (nominee)
  • 2012: Primetime Emmy Award, Outstanding Miniseries or Movie, Hemingway & Gellhorn (nominee)
  • 2013: WGA Awards, Long Form – Original, Hemingway & Gellhorn (nominee)


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