Paul Mazursky, five-time Oscar nominee, dies at 84

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Paul Mazursky, five-time Oscar nominee, dies at 84
Mel Brooks kisses director Paul Mazursky on the cheek after speaking at the podium during a ceremony honoring Mazursky with the 2,515th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures on December 13, 2013 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. Brown (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Director Paul Mazursky's just unveiled Star following a ceremony honoring him with the 2,515th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures on December 13, 2013 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. Brown (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 01: Paul Mazursky accepts the 2014 Screen Laurel Award onstage during the 2014 Writers Guild Awards L.A. Ceremony at J.W. Marriott at L.A. Live on February 1, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for WGAw)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 01: Writer/director Mel Brooks (L) listens as director Paul Mazursky (C) accepts the Laurel Award for Screenwriting at the 2014 Writers Guild Award Ceremony at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE on February 1, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA- FEBRUARY 01: Honoree/director/writer/producer Paul Mazursky (C) and family arrive at the 2014 Writers Guild Awards L.A. Ceremony at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE on February 1, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
Director Paul Mazursky (2nd L, seated) looks on as his star is unveiled during a ceremony honoring Mazursky with the 2,515th Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures on December13, 2013 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. Brown (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 07: Actors Paul Mazursky and Malcolm McDowell attend The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Tribute to Stanley Kubrick at AMPAS Samuel Goldwyn Theater on November 7, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 07: Filmmaker Paul Mazursky attends The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Tribute To Stanley Kubrick at AMPAS Samuel Goldwyn Theater on November 7, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by JC Olivera/WireImage)
CENTURY CITY, CA - JANUARY 15: Actor Paul Mazursky arrives at the 36th Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards at the InterContinental Hotel on January 15, 2011 in Century City, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Cinematographer Donald McAlpine holds the International Achievement Award he received at the American Society of Cinematographer's 23rd Annual Outstanding Achievement Awards on February 15, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. The award was presented by director Paul Mazursky (R). (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 14: Actress Maria Conchita Alonso and director Paul Mazursky attend the 45th Annual Cinema Audio Society Awards held at the Millenium Biltmore Hotel on February 14, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage)
CENTURY CITY, CA - JANUARY 15: Actor Paul Mazursky (C) arrives at the 36th Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards at the InterContinental Hotel on January 15, 2011 in Century City, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: AMPAS President Sid Ganis (L) and director Paul Mazursky attend the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' salute to director Akira Kurosawa at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater on September 18, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)
KARLOVY VARY, CZECH REPUBLIC - JULY 8: Polish actress Danuta Szaflarska, U.S. Hungarian-born director of photography Vilmos Zsigmond, American director Paul Mazursky and American screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. attend a presentation of New Hollywood II section at the 43rd International Film Festival on July 8, 2008 in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. (Photo by Hana Kalvachova/isifa//Getty Images)
Betsy and Paul Mazursky, director, and daughter Jill Cody (Photo by Amy Graves/WireImage for BWR Public Relations)
Paul Mazursky, Mike Figgis, Phillip Noyce and Wim Wenders *Exclusive* ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Paul Mazursky (right) and wife during HBO Films' 'Sometimes In April' Los Angeles Premiere at Writer's Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Paul Mazursky, Anne Heche and HBO's Carrie Frazier (Photo by Chris Weeks/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 09: Filmmakers Mel Brooks (L) and Paul Mazursky attend the opening of 'The Catskill Sonata' at the Hayworth Theater on March 9, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Mazursky directed the Michael Elias-penned play. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 09: Paul Mazursky poses under the marquee outside the Hayworth Theater the opening of 'The Catskill Sonata' at the Hayworth Theater on March 9, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Mazursky directed the Michael Elias-penned play. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOOD - JULY 11: (L to R) Writer Paul Muzurky, actress Leigh Taylor Young and producer Martin Lewis attend the American Cinematheque's Mods and Rockers Film Festival screening of the film 'I Love You Alice B. Toklas' at the Egyptian Theater on July 11, 2003 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Paul Mazursky & Tim Robbins during Opening Night of Klaus Mann's Mephisto, a play, directed by Tim Robbins at Actors' Gang Theater in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 08: Filming the movie 'Faithful' at Rockefeller Center. Director Paul Mazursky watches filming thru closed circut televison. (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Director Sydney Pollack, singer Barbra Streisand and director Paul Mazursky attending 38th Annual Director's Guild of America Awards on March 26, 1986 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
Film director Paul Mazursky. (Photo by Kevin Winter/DMI/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
John Cassavetes, Paul Mazursky and Gloria Swanson during Premiere Party for 'The Tempest' - August 8, 1982 at South Street Seaport in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Actor Paul Mazursky (C) w. wife and son. (Photo by David Mcgough/DMI/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
GETTING TOGETHER - 'Breaking Up Is Hard to Do' - Aired on January 1, 1972. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) PAUL MAZURSKY;BOBBY SHERMAN
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 01: Paul and Betsy Mazursky (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 01: Paul and Betsy Mazursky (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 01: John Cassavetes and Paul Mazursky (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Filmmaker Paul Mazursky (C) with his family. (Photo by Ann Clifford/DMI/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 18: Paul Mazursky (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 18: Paul Mazursky (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 18: Paul Mazursky (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Italian movie director Federico Fellini, center, discusses a scene with American director Paul Mazursky, right, as Fellini makes his debut as a film actor at Rome’s Cinecitta’ Studios on July 15, 1970. The Italian director plays an easy role, himself, for “Alex in Wonderland”, under Mazursky’s direction, with American actor Donald Sutherland, left, in the title role of Alex Morrison, a dream- prone movie director who admires Fellini. (AP Photo)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Paul Mazursky, the innovative and versatile director who showed the absurdity of modern life in such movies as "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" and "An Unmarried Woman," has died. He was 84.

The filmmaker died of pulmonary cardiac arrest Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said Mazursky's spokeswoman Nancy Willen.

As a talented writer, actor, producer and director, Mazursky racked up five Oscar nominations, mostly for writing such films as "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" and "Enemies, A Love Story." He also created memorable roles for the likes of Art Carney, Jill Clayburgh and Natalie Wood. Later in life, Mazursky acted in such TV series as "The Sopranos" and `'Curb Your Enthusiasm" and films such as "Carlito's Way" and "2 Days in the Valley."

"A true raconteur, Paul brought humor and spirit to the many guild meetings he attended during two decades of service to the DGA," said Directors Guild of America President Paris Barclay. "He shared his provocative views of humanity in his many films, but what he shared with us were quick quips, thoughtful responses and pointed anecdotes always geared toward making us think and feel."

He was born Irwin Mazursky in 1930 in Brooklyn. During the Depression, the family lived on the small wages his father earned as a laborer for the federal Works Progress Administration. When Mazursky graduated from high school, he changed his name from Irwin, which had hated, to Paul.

Mazursky had always dreamed of becoming an actor, and he appeared in student plays at Brooklyn College. With the school's permission, he flew to California to act in "Fear and Desire," director Stanley Kubrick's first film. When he received bad reviews, Mazursky buckled down to studying acting with a variety of teachers, including Lee Strasberg. But he found the most success behind the camera.

Mazursky and his writing partner Larry Tucker first triumphed with the script for "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," a clever takeoff on the emerging sexual freedom of the late 1960s. Warner Bros. turned it down for fear of its racy subject, but Columbia scooped it up and accepted Mazursky's proviso that he would direct the film.

Natalie Wood and Robert Culp portrayed Carol and Bob, a well-off couple who seek open lives. Dyan Cannon and Elliott Gould played Alice and Ted, who hesitate but acquiesce in Carol and Bob's invitation to wife-swapping. In the end, the quartet bow to the old morality and the wife-swapping remains unconsummated.

"Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" was a success at the box office and set up Mazursky as rising director of the new school. His next film was "Alex in Wonderland," which was also co-written by Tucker, starring Donald Sutherland as a young director who, like Mazursky, had a hit first movie and mulled about what to make for his second. It was scorned by critics.

Mazursky ended his relationship with Tucker and spent six months with his family in Rome and London, recovering from his failure. He later returned to filmmaking, continuing with his socially adept films, many of which he wrote, produced, directed and acted in, including the autobiographical "Next Stop, Greenwich Village," "An Unmarried Woman," "Tempest," "Moscow on the Hudson" and "Down and Out in Beverly Hills."

"I know there are some wonderful filmmakers with really tragic views of life," Mazursky told the Atlantic magazine. "But for me absurdity is just around the corner. I see it all the time."

Over the years, he was nominated four times for screenplay Oscars: 1969's "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," 1974's "Harry and Tonto," 1978's "An Unmarried Woman" and 1989's "Enemies, A Love Story." As a co-producer, he also shared in the best picture nomination for "An Unmarried Woman."

Mazursky returned to semi-autobiography in his poorly received 1993 film "The Pickle," about an aging movie director grappling with professional and personal stumbles. In an Associated Press interview, he objected to the notion someone had expressed to him that the film's hero, played by Danny Aiello, was despicable.

"Every director I've met who was involved with a movie is self-centered," he said. "Directors are not walking around like Mahatma Gandhi saying, `Oh, don't worry about the movie.' They're worried about their movie! They're crazed!"

He is survived by his wife, daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchild.

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Biographical material in this story was written by The Associated Press' late Hollywood correspondent, Bob Thomas.

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