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Philip Kaufman

KAUFMAN, PHILIP (1936– ), U.S. director-screenwriter. Born in Chicago, Ill., Kaufman graduated from the University of Chicago in 1958 with honors and returned a year later after leaving Harvard Law School to complete a master's degree in history. Kaufman married screenwriter Rose Fisher in 1959. In 1960, he moved to San Francisco and then to Europe, where he taught in Greece and Italy, and then to work on an Israeli kibbutz while attempting to write a novel. In 1962, Kaufman and his family returned to Chicago, where his unpublished novel, with the help of Benjamin Manaster, became the film Goldstein (1965), loosely based on one of Martin Buber's Tales of the Hassidim. For it, Goldstein shared the Prix de La Nouvelle Critique at the Cannes Film Festival. Fearless Frank (1967), which he wrote and directed, failed to find a distributor until its star, Jon Voight, became an overnight success with Midnight Cowboy (1969), earning Kaufman an invitation to the Universal Studios Young Directors Program. His first film for Universal was The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, (1972), followed by an adaptation of the James Houston novel, The White Dawn (1974) for Paramount. Kaufman co-wrote the script for and agreed to direct Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), but two weeks into the film Eastwood took over the direction. Kaufman's remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), however, became a huge hit. He followed this up with a successful adaptation of Richard Price's The Wanderers (1979), a writing credit for Raiders of the Lost Ark (1983), and a major critical success in adapting and directing Tom Wolfe's bestselling book about the U.S. space program, The Right Stuff (1983). In 1988, Kaufman received an adapted screenplay Oscar nomination for his work on Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being. His next film, Henry and June (1990), a film about the erotic relationship of Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller, was the first film to earn the MPAA's NC-17 rating. Kaufman's later work included an adaptation of the Michael Crichton book Rising Sun (1993); Quills (2000), a tale about the notorious French writer Marquis de Sade; and Twisted (2004), a police thriller set in San Francisco.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.