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'Rob Roy' Screenwriter Alan Sharp Dies at 79

Alan Sharpe Headshot - P 2013
Courtesy of CAA

A native of Scotland, he also wrote for such films as Arthur Penn’s “Night Moves" and Sam Peckinpah's "The Osterman Weekend.”

Alan Sharp, the Scottish screenwriter who penned the script for the 1995 film Rob Roy, which starred Liam Neeson as the legendary folk hero and outlaw from the Highlands, has died. He was 79.

Sharp died Feb. 8 at his daughter’s home in Los Angeles after a long illness, CAA said Monday.

Sharp also wrote the screenplays for such films as the languorous The Hired Hand (1971), starring and directed by Peter Fonda in his first outing after Easy Rider; Ulzana’s Raid (1972), a Western toplined by Burt Lancaster; Arthur Penn’s Night Moves (1975), starring Gene Hackman as a small-time private eye; Sam Peckinpah’s final film as a director, The Osterman Weekend (1983); the Margot Kidder comedy Little Treasure (1985), which he also directed; and Dean Spanley (2008), with Peter O’Toole and Sam Neill.

Rob Roy was directed by Michael Caton-Jones and shot entirely on location in Scotland.

Sharp penned the screenplay for Ben-Hur, a miniseries that aired on ABC in 2010, as well as several other TV projects.

Sharp was born to a single mother on Jan. 12, 1934, in Alyth, Scotland. He was adopted by Margaret and Joseph Sharp when he was six weeks old. 

He launched his writing career in 1965 with the publication of A Green Tree in Gedde, which initially was banned in his country for its sexual content. The novel, the first of a proposed trilogy, won the 1967 Scottish Arts Council Award.

The second novel in the trilogy, The Wind Shifts, was published in 1968. The third, Don’t Cry, It’s Only a Picture Show, was left incomplete when Sharp relocated to Hollywood to focus on screenwriting for film and television. 

Sharp was married four times; his wives included noted British novelist Beryl Bainbridge. Their daughter, actress Ruth Davies, survives him.

Other survivors include his wife Harriet; children Louise, Nola, Daniel, Michael and Minnie; stepsons Rashan and William; and grandchildren Sandra, Tess, Inigo, August, Ronan, Jack, Evie, Rowan, Jacob, Gabriel, Luther, Sophie, Max and Jake.

A public memorial service will be held March 2. Details are available by contacting alansharpmemorial@sbcglobal.net.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Sharp’s name to the Johnnie Cochran Jr. Brain Tumor Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.