A writer whose most famous work became a Tony Award-winning play and an acclaimed film that earned eight Oscar nominations has died. USA Today reports that Bernard Pomerance, best known for writing “The Elephant Man,” died Saturday of complications from cancer at his home in Galisteo, N.M. He was 76.
“The Elephant Man’s” title role was played by some of Hollywood’s top stars, including Bradley Cooper and John Hurt.
“‘The Elephant Man’ was based on a true story and has been frequently revived since its 1979 New York debut. It examines the life of John Merrick, an extremely disfigured but indomitable man who becomes a celebrity in Victorian London,” USA Today reports. “On Broadway, such diverse performers as David Bowie and Mark Hamill eventually followed the mesmerizing Philip Anglim in the title role. Billy Crudup starred in a 2002 revival, and Cooper led one in 2014 that earned four Tony nominations.”
David Lynch’s 1980 film adaptation, which starred Hurt, earned eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Hurt and Best Director for Lynch.
“Pomerance’s tale showcases the triumph of a very human spirit, personified by the sensitive, almost saintly Merrick,” the report notes. “He is a man who finds safe haven in a London hospital after spending much of his life in second-rate carnivals as a freak attraction — and then blossoms into the confidante of celebrated actresses, statesmen and even royalty.”