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Melville Shavelson, the prolific writer, director and producer whose directing credits range from 1955’s “The Seven Little Foys” starring Bob Hope to 1968’s “Yours, Mine and Ours” starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda, died Wednesday in his Studio City home of natural causes. He was 90.
Shavelson served three terms as president of the WGA, where during the course of his career he earned five nominations as well as the 1960 award for best written American musical for “The Five Pennies.” He also was the recipient of the guild’s Laurel Award for Screen Writing as well as its Morgan Cox Award and Valentine Davies Award.
Shavelson also picked up two Academy Award nominations for screenwriting — one in 1956 for “Foys” and another in 1959 for “Houseboat,” starring Cary Grant and Sophia Loren. He wrote both films with Jack Rose.
Shavelson, who began his career as a gag writer for Hope’s radio show in the 1930s, went on to write, either alone or in collaboration, 35 feature films, directing 12 of them.
His films include “It Started in Naples” (1960), “On the Double” (1961), “A New Kind of Love” (1963), “Cast a Giant Shadow” (1966) and 1972’s “The War Between Men and Women,” the last film he directed.
For television, his credits include the 1979 TV miniseries, “Ike,” on which he worked as a writer, director and exec producer; 1983’s “The Other Woman,” which he directed; and 1985’s “Deceptions,” which he wrote and directed.
Shavelson was the author of two novels and four works of nonfiction, including “Don’t Shoot, It’s Only Me,” on which he collaborated with Hope. His autobiography, “How to Succeed in Hollywood Without Really Trying, P.S. — You Can’t!” was published April 1 on his 90th birthday.
Shavelson also served on the faculty of USC’s Master of Professional Writing Program. He funded a special closed-circuit television network for the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s home in California. He established a film scholarship fund at Cornell University, from which he graduated, and contributed to the Shavelson-Webb Writers Guild Foundation Library.
He is surved by his wife Ruth; their children, Richard Shavelson and Lynne Joiner; and grandchildren Karin Salim, Amy Kurpius and Scott Joiner.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be sent to help animals via either Defenders of Wildlife, the Hollywood Office of the Humane Society of the United States or the Pet Adoption Fund.
A memorial gathering to celebrate his life is pending.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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