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William Bast, an Emmy-nominated screenwriter for film and television who co-created The Colbys, a spinoff of ABC’s popular primetime soap Dynasty, has died. He was 84.
Bast, who was a close friend and biographer of actor James Dean, died Monday in Los Angeles of complications from Alzheimer’s, his friend, Niki Marvin, announced.
With his partner Paul Huson, Bast developed, wrote for and produced The Colbys, which ran for two seasons (1985-87) and starred Charlton Heston, Barbara Stanwyck, Katharine Ross and Ricardo Montalban in a story about an ultra-rich family. Like Dynasty, it was produced by legendary producer Aaron Spelling.
For the big screen, Bast wrote Ray Harryhausen’s The Valley of Gwangi (1969) and adapted a Harold Robbins novel for The Betsy (1978), starring Laurence Olivier and Robert Duvall.
Bast’s 1977 adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ The Man in the Iron Mask, with Richard Chamberlain in the dual role and Mike Newell directing the NBC production, earned him an Emmy nomination. He later received a WGA award for scripting the 1984 CBS telefilm The First Modern Olympics.
In 1976, Bast received the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award for his work on the ABC movie The Legend of Lizzie Borden, starring Elizabeth Montgomery, and he got a Christopher Award for adapting The Scarlet Pimpernel, which had Anthony Andrews and Ian McKellen headlining a 1982 CBS telefilm.
Born in Wauwatosa, Wis., Bast moved to Los Angeles to study theater arts at UCLA, where he met and became pals with Dean. After the actor died in a September 1955 car crash at age 24, Bast quickly turned around the highly regarded James Dean: A Biography, published in 1956.
Bast wrote a more candid book about his relationship with the actor, Surviving James Dean, in 2006.
Bast also wrote for such TV series as Combat!, Perry Mason, Ben Casey, The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Prisoner, Honey West, Dr. Kildare, The Mod Squad and It Takes a Thief and collaborated with Huson on several telefilms.
In addition to Huson, his partner of 48 years, Bast is survived by his brother James and his niece Lauren.
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