Barbara Turner, Screenwriter and Producer, Dies at 79

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Barbara Turner

She earned two Emmy noms and penned the 1995 film 'Georgia,' which starred her daughter, Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Barbara Turner, the Emmy-nominated screenwriter who worked on such films as Georgia — starring her daughter, Jennifer Jason Leigh — and Hemingway & Gellhorn, died Tuesday in Los Angeles. She was 79.

A publicist at 42West confirmed her death.

Turner, who was married from 1957-64 to the late actor Vic Morrow, also wrote Richard Lester's Petulia (1968) starring Julie Christie and George C. Scott; Pollock (2000), directed by and starring Ed Harris; and The Company (2003), helmed by Robert Altman.

Turner received Emmy noms for her work on the 1977 NBC telefilm The War Between the Tates, starring Elizabeth Ashley and Richard Crenna, and the 2012 HBO movie Hemingway & Gellhorn, featuring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman.

Georgia (1995), directed by Ulu Grosbard, starred Leigh as a singer who looks up to her older sister, a more famous entertainer played by Mare Winningham. Turner also served as a producer on the film (as she did on Hemingway & Gellhorn).

Said Leigh in a 1996 interview: "My mom was always really supportive, but whatever I wanted to do if I really loved it, she would have supported it. Acting was a lifeline for me, a way to be extroverted, to be with people, a way to come out of myself."

Turner also wrote for the Winningham-starring TV movies Freedom and Eye on the Sparrow. Her first screenplay was for Deathwatch (1966), which was directed by Morrow (Leigh's father). 

A native of New York who attended the University of Texas, Turner started out as an actress and appeared on such TV series as Suspicion, Ben Casey and The Virginian. She moved to California when Morrow got a part in Blackboard Jungle (1955).

After Petulia, "I realized that I was making my living as a writer and not as an actress," she said in 2003. "So I said, 'I guess I’m a writer …' and the rest is sort of the rest."

Turner also was married to director Reza Badiyi (Hawaii Five-O, Get Smart, The Mary Tyler Moore Show) from 1968-85.

 

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