RIP “CUJO” scripter Barbara TurnerMovies/TV,News Michael Gingold
Screenwriter Barbara Turner, who died yesterday at age 79, was best-known for dramatic fare such as GEORGIA, starring her daughter Jennifer Jason Leigh, and the Oscar-winning biopic POLLOCK. But she was also involved—pseudonymously—with a Stephen King film favorite.
In 1982, Turner, whose writing to that point had largely been for television, was commissioned to script the adaptation of King’s CUJO (the author himself had previously taken a pass at it). Turner’s version reportedly retained the novel’s tragic ending, but the final screenplay (rewritten by Don Carlos Dunaway, another TV veteran) and film changed it; Turner wound up using the nom de film Lauren Currier for her screen credit. Directed by Lewis Teague, starring Dee Wallace and released in August 1983, CUJO was a box-office success and remains a fan favorite.
Turner began her career as an actress in the 1950s and made the transition to writing with the 1966 drama DEATHWATCH, starring a pre-STAR TREK Leonard Nimoy and directed by Leigh’s father, Vic Morrow, to whom Turner was married from 1957-1964. She received numerous award nominations for her TV work; GEORGIA, which Turner also produced, landed Leigh a New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award, and Marcia Gay Harden won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for POLLOCK, which also got a Best Actor nod for star/director Ed Harris.