Entertainment News – Herald Democrat

DENVER (AP) — Bob Rafelson, an influential figure in the 1970s New Hollywood era who was nominated for two Oscars for “Five Easy Pieces,” has died. He was 89 years old.

Rafelson died Saturday night at his home in Aspen, surrounded by his family, his wife Gabrielle Torrek Rafelson said.

Rafelson was responsible for co-creating the fictional pop music group and the television series “The Monkees” with the late Burt Schneider, which won him an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1967.

But he was perhaps best known for his work during the New Hollywood era, which saw a classical studio system giving way to a batch of rebellious young voices and fresh filmmaking styles, and stars Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Francis Helped to uncover talents like Ford. Coppola and Steven Spielberg.

Rafelson directed and co-wrote “Five Easy Pieces”, about an upper-class pianist who yearns for a more blue-collar life, and “The King of Marvin Gardens”, a gloomy late-night-radio About the talk show host. Both films starred Jack Nicholson and explored themes of the American dream. “Five Easy Pieces” received Rafelson two Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Screenplay in 1971.

He also produced New Hollywood classics including Peter Bogdanovich’s “The Last Picture Show” and Dennis Hopper’s “Easy Rider”.

Coppola once called him “one of the most important cinematic actors of his era” and his fans include Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson.

Raphaelson was born in New York City and was a distant relative of “The Jazz Singer” screenwriter Samson Rafelson, whom he said took an interest in his work. She also became friends with famous screenwriter Buck Henry at Dartmouth.

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While serving in the US Army in Japan, he developed an interest in Japanese cinema and Yasujiro Ozu’s films, especially “Tokyo Story”.

After college, Rafelson married his high school sweetheart, who would serve as a production designer on his films and others. He got his start in the entertainment business in television, writing for shows such as “The Witness” and “The Greatest Show on Earth”.

But “The Monkees” was his first major success. He stated that the idea for The Monkees predates the Beatles and the musical comedy “A Hard Day’s Night”, but it well influenced the moment it premiered on NBC in 1966. It lasted two years and allowed Rafelson to take a stab at directing himself.

The Monkees also appeared in his feature directorial debut “Head”, which would be the first of several collaborations with Nicholson.

“I would have thought I started my career,” Nicholson told Esquire in 2019, “but I think he started his career.”

His wife said that the 1990 film “Mountain of the Moon”, directed by him, was a biographical film that told the story of two explorers, Sir Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke.

She said that Raphaelson’s own adventures influenced his work in places such as Morocco, India, Southeast Asia, Mexico and Guatemala.

“He loved nothing more than to disappear into the strangest pockets of the world,” said Torek Rafelson.

Rafelson left Hollywood two decades ago to focus on raising two sons with Torrek Rafelson, Ethan and Harper, in Aspen. He and his first wife, Toby Rafelson, also had two children, Peter and Julie, who died in 1973 when she was 10 years old.

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