Betsy Mazursky, Widow of Director Paul Mazursky, Dies at 90

Betsy Mazursky - Getty - H 2017
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She was married to the writer-director for 61 years.

Elizabeth "Betsy" Ann Mazursky, who was married to writer-director Paul Mazursky for 61 years, has died, her granddaughter Carly de Castro confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. She was 90.

Mazursky, a librarian and social worker, died Friday at her home in Beverly Hills.

Paul had said of his wife, "She's helped shape a lot of my ideas about women," and their experiences together informed his scripts. For instance, when the couple went on a 72-hour weekend trip to the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, they ended up sitting naked in a hot tub with strangers. Paul recalled: "[The others] picked on us, but especially me because Betsy would say things like, 'He never lets me finish, he never lets me talk.'" The trip became the basis for Paul's 1969 film, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, which follows two married couples who experiment with sexual partners. He co-wrote the screenplay with Larry Tucker and directed it.

Mazursky met her husband at New York City's Washington Square fountain. At the time, Paul was a struggling actor, and she was working toward her library science master's degree at Pratt Institute. "Someone else tried to pick me up," Mazursky once recalled. "A sailor or something. Paul got rid of him, walked me home and invited me to a movie screening a week later." They married the next year, in 1953, and later had two daughters, Meg and Jill. Paul died in 2014.

Born on Oct. 27, 1926, in Louisville, Kentucky, Mazursky dedicated her life to social justice activism and philanthropy. She served as a volunteer counselor at the Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles and the Southern California Counseling Center. "I've had a lot of volunteer jobs," she once said, "but people don't take them as seriously as those that pay. It's the way society measures you."

Mazursky also had small roles in a number of her husband's films, including as a department store manager in 1984's Moscow on the Hudson, starring Robin Williams, and as a jogger in 1986's Down and Out in Beverly Hills, with Nick Nolte and Bette Midler.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Planned Parenthood.