'Silkwood' Screenwriter Alice Arlen Dies at 75

Courtesy of Photofest
1983's 'Silkwood'

The veteran Hollywood scribe co-wrote the screenplay for Mike Nichols' Oscar-nominated movie with Nora Ephron.

Alice Arlen, who wrote the screenplay for Mike Nichols' 1983 film Silkwood with Nora Ephron, has died. She was 75.

Arlen passed on Monday night at her home in New York City after a long illness, according to the Alicia Patterson Journalism Foundation, of which Arlen was board chair emeritus. Arlen and Ephron were nominated for Oscars for their collaboration on Silkwood.

The film, which also won the Golden Globe for best picture, nabbed five Academy Award nominations in all, including nods for directing and for performances by Meryl Streep and Cher.

"Screenwriters Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen have etched with their earthy down-home scenes the story of a company town: Kerr-McGee has a large contract to deliver; its managers have a deadline to meet; its workers must supply the product," said The Hollywood Reporter in a 1983 review of the film. 

Arlen was born into a journalism family in November 1940 and was raised in Chicago before being educated at Radcliffe College and Columbia University. Her grandfather, Joseph Medill Patterson, founded the New York Daily News, while her great-aunt, Eleanor Medill Patterson, published the Washington Times-Herald.

And Arlen's aunt, Alicia Patterson, founded, published and edited Newsday. After Radcliffe, Arlen returned to Chicago as a writer for the local CBS station. She married James Hoge, editor and former publisher of The Chicago Sun-Times. After having three children with Hoge, she divorced and Arlen married book author and former New Yorker writer Michael J. Arlen.

After her success with Silkwood, Arlen did screenplays for Louis Malle's Alamo Bay, which starred Amy Madigan and Ed Harris, and Susan Seidelman's Cookie, another collaboration with Nora Ephron, this time a comedy about a Mafia boss and his daughter.

She also penned the screenplay for Kathryn Bigelow's The Weight of Water, which starred Sean Penn and Sarah Polley and was adapted from an Anita Shreve novel. Arlen's TV credits included A Thief of Time, based on a Tony Hillman novel, and Then She Found Me, which she co-wrote with Victor Levin and actress Helen Hunt.

Arlen is survived by her husband, Michael, and her three children, Alicia Adams, James Patrick Hoge and Robert Hoge.

March 3, 9:00 a.m. Updated with biographical information and more screen credits for Alice Arlen.

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