Barbara Turner (screenwriter)

Gloria Rose "Barbara" Turner (July 14, 1936 – April 5, 2016) was an American screenwriter and actress.[1] She was notable for the intensive amount of research she conducted during the screenplay writing process. One of her daughters is the actress Jennifer Jason Leigh.[2][3]

Barbara Turner
Gloria Rose Turner

(1936-07-14)July 14, 1936
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedApril 5, 2016(2016-04-05) (aged 79)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationScreenwriter, actress
Years active1957–2016
Known forPetulia
Notable work
Vic Morrow
(m. 1957; div. 1964)

Reza Badiyi
(m. 1968; div. 1985)
Children3; including Jennifer Jason Leigh

Early life

Turner was born in Brooklyn, New York to Pearl Pauline (née Zises) and Alexander Turner. Her father was an Austrian-Jewish immigrant, and her mother was born in New York, to Austrian-Jewish parents.[4][4][5]

Turner attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied acting.[6]:162 After a year of college, Turner moved back to New York, studying at Erwin Piscator's Dramatic Workshop and then with acting coach Paul Mann, where she met fellow actor Vic Morrow.[7]


Turner moved to Los Angeles after Morrow was cast in the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle.[7] During the 1950s and 1960s, Turner acted in many film and television productions, some of which included Playhouse 90, Mike Hammer, Ben Casey and The Breaking Point. Turner said that she began writing to fund her work as an actor.[6]:54 She and Morrow wrote a TV movie called Willie Loved Everybody; they adapted it into a musical that they tried pitching with Elmer Bernstein, but were not successful in selling the concept. The two separated and divorced in 1964.[7]

During the early 1960s, Turner met and became friends with director Robert Altman, first meeting while working on an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and then on his 1964 Kraft Suspense Theatre episode "Once Upon a Savage Night", which was expanded and broadcast as the TV movie Nightmare in Chicago. During filming, Turner met her second husband, producer and director Reza Badiyi, who encouraged her to write an adaptation of a Mira Michal short story from The New Yorker called "At Lake Laguna", which she brought to Altman to possibly make, but that fell apart right before production was scheduled to begin. Altman thought of Turner when he read John Haase's book Me and the Arch Kook Petulia. Turner wrote the original adaptation, which became the film Petulia.[7][8][9]

Turner, Vic Morrow and Reza Badiyi were close friends and collaborators with the director Robert Altman, who later directed Leigh in Short Cuts (1993) and Kansas City (1996).[10] Morrow directed his and Turner's 1965 screen adaptation of the Jean Genet play Deathwatch.[3]

In 1973, she wrote the screenplay for the TV movie The Affair, starring Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner. Her teleplay for the TV movie Freedom (1981) was based on her daughter Carrie's experiences in the 1970s as a teen runaway, played by family friend Mare Winningham.[9][11]

In 1983, Turner co-wrote an adaption of the Stephen King novel Cujo under the name Lauren Currier.[12][13] Turner wrote an unproduced screenplay about two friends of Dorothy Parker named Gerald and Sara Murphy. This work led to her daughter, Leigh, being cast in the 1994 film Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle.[14]

In 1995, she teamed up with daughter Jennifer Jason Leigh to write and produce the screenplay for Georgia, a film depicting the troubled relationship between two singing sisters played by Leigh and Mare Winningham, who both won praise for their performances.[15] The idea reportedly came from Leigh, who was on location shooting the 1991 film Rush, and pitched the idea of two sisters who have varying degrees of skill as singer-songwriters. Turner created the script from that idea.[9][16] It was financed by the French film production company Ciby 2000, and Turner's daughter, Morrow, served as a technical consultant.[16] Turner spent three years doing research, using the Seattle music scene as a source for the material.[9]

In 2000, Turner's screenplay adaption of the book Jackson Pollock: An American Saga by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith for the Jackson Pollock biopic Pollock, also written by Susan Emswiller,[6]:61–62 became a successful film. She then collaborated with actress Neve Campbell on a screenplay titled The Company (2003) about the inner workings of the Joffrey Ballet, which was directed by Robert Altman.[17]

In June 2010, it was announced that Turner and Jerry Stahl had written a screenplay for an HBO film about Ernest Hemingway and his relationship with Martha Gellhorn. The film Hemingway & Gellhorn aired in 2012.[18]

At the time of her death, Turner had written the script to the not-yet-released Candice Bergen-produced film titled Knock Wood: Charlie McCarthy Project, a movie based on Bergen's 1983 memoir of the same name.[19] The story, produced by James Francis Trezza and Pam Widener (who Turner worked with on Pollack), unfolds from the perspective of Charlie McCarthy, Edgar Bergen's famous and hugely popular wooden puppet.[20]

Other long-time adaptations that were not produced but had been active in Hollywood were scripts based on Jane Smiley’s book Barn Blind, Michael Frayn's Headlong, and Jill Paton Walsh's Knowledge of Angels. Additional screenplays based on original work included Beautiful View, Once Again for Zelda, and Under Heaven.[3]

Personal life

Turner was married twice. From 1957 to 1964, Turner was married to actor and frequent collaborator Vic Morrow, with whom she had two daughters, Carrie Ann Morrow and actress Jennifer Jason Leigh. Turner and Morrow separated when Leigh was two years old.[21]

From 1968 to 1985, Turner was married to Iranian-American television director Reza Badiyi,[22] with whom she had a daughter, the actress Mina Badie, also known as Mina Badiyi Chassler.[3]

Barbara Turner died on April 5, 2016 in Los Angeles, aged 79, from undisclosed causes.[3]

Selected filmography


  • 1966: Deathwatch (adaptation)
  • 1968: Petulia (adaptation)
  • 1973: The Affair (TV movie)
  • 1976: The Dark Side of Innocence (also known as The Hancocks) (NBC pilot)
  • 1976: Widow (TV movie)
  • 1976: The Dark Side of Innocence (TV movie)
  • 1977: The War Between the Tates (TV movie) (adaptation)
  • 1981: Freedom (TV movie)
  • 1983: Sessions (TV movie), also producer
  • 1983: Cujo (credited as Lauren Currier)[12]
  • 1987: Eye on the Sparrow (TV movie), also producer
  • 1992: Somebody's Daughter (TV movie)
  • 1994: Out of Darkness (TV movie)
  • 1995: Georgia, also producer
  • 2000: Pollock (adaptation)
  • 2003: The Company
  • 2012: Hemingway & Gellhorn (HBO) (TV movie), also executive producer
  • Unknown: Knock Wood: Charlie McCarthy Project[20]


  • 1955: Two-Gun Lady as Jenny Ivers
  • 1956: Medic (TV series) as Joyce in "The Glorious Red Gallagher"
  • 1957: Monster from Green Hell as Lorna Lorentz
  • 1957: M Squad (TV series) as Alice Snyder in "Street of Fear"
  • 1957: Suspicion (TV series) as Emily in "Heartbeat"
  • 1957: Mike Hammer (TV series) as Madeline Pope in "Now Die in It"
  • 1958: Schlitz Playhouse (TV series) as Rose Genilli in "Heroes Never Group Up"
  • 1958: Playhouse 90 (TV series) as Sandra in "Portrait of a Murderer"
  • 1958: The Frank Sinatra Show (TV series) as Shirley in "The Brownstone Incident"
  • 1958: Wink of an Eye as Judy Carlton
  • 1958: Mike Hammer (TV series) as Doris in "My Son and Heir"
  • 1960: The Lineup (TV series) as Eleanor Larsen in "Seven Sinners"
  • 1961: Operation Eichmann as Sara
  • 1961: Outlaws (TV series) as Mary Sawyer in "No Luck on Friday"
  • 1962: Ben Casey (TV series) as Rose Hill in "I Hear America Singing"
  • 1963: Alcoa Premiere (TV series) as Emma in "Lollipop Louie"
  • 1963: Channing (TV series) as Renate Thielman in "A Hall Full of Strangers"
  • 1963: Breaking Point (TV series) as Dorothy Oringer in "A Pelican in the Wilderness"
  • 1964: Kraft Suspense Theatre (TV series) as Bernadette in "Once Upon a Savage Night"
  • 1964: Nightmare in Chicago (TV movie)
  • 1965: Ben Casey (TV series) as Fanny Birnbaum in "A Nightingale Named Nathan"
  • 1966: The Virginian as Louise Devers in "Harvest of Strangers"
  • 1967: La vuelta del Mexicano
  • 1969: The Desperate Mission (TV movie) as The Farmer's Wife
  • 1970: Soldier Blue as Mrs. Long (uncredited)
  • 1974: En busca de un muro
  • 2007: Margot at the Wedding



  1. Barnes, Mike (April 5, 2016). "Barbara Turner, Screenwriter and Producer, Dies at 79". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  2. Green, Mary (January 11, 2016). "Jennifer Jason Leigh Talks About the Person Who Inspires Her Most – and Why Her Son Wanted Her to Skip Sunday's Golden Globes". People. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  3. Dagan, Carmel (April 5, 2016). "Barbara Turner, 'Georgia' Screenwriter and Mother of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Dies at 79". Variety. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  4. "Gloria Rose Turner, mentioned in the record of Victor Morrow and Gloria Rose Turner". FamilySearch. June 26, 1957.
  5. "Gloria R Turner - United States Census, 1940". FamilySearch. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  6. McCreadie, Marsha (2006). "Chapter 4: Breakaway Queens and Genre Benders". Women Screenwriters Today: Their Lives and Words. Westport, CT: Praeger. ISBN 978-0-275-98542-4. OCLC 475146371.
  7. Huttner, Jan Lisa (December 5, 2003). "Jan Chats with Screenwriter Barbara Turner". Films for Two (FF2 Media). Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  8. Altman, Robert; Thompson, David (2006). Altman on Altman. London, UK: Faber and Faber. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-571-22089-2. OCLC 53709872. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  9. McGilligan, Patrick (2010). "Chapter 12: Barbara Turner Free Spirit". Backstory 5: Interviews with Screenwriters of the 1990s (June 2008). Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-25105-2. OCLC 426147374.
  10. Gold, Sylviane (June 2, 2002). "Film; Ready to Play Anyone but Herself". The New York Times. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  11. Nussbaum, Emily (September 24, 2007). "Scenes From an Indie Marriage". New York. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  12. Gingold, Michael (April 6, 2016). "RIP "Cujo" scripter Barbara Turner". Fangoria. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  13. Turner, Barbara; King, Stephen (August 20, 1982). Cujo. OCLC 81040927. Revised first draft
  14. Carpenter, Teresa (August 29, 1993). "Film; Back to the Round Table With Dorothy Parker and Pals". The New York Times. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  15. Maslin, Janet (September 30, 1995). "Film Festival Review; A Singer's Jittery Sister Gets a Forum for Her Desperation". The New York Times. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  16. Kronke, David (December 3, 1995). "Movies: 'Georgia' on Their Minds : This tale of two sisters who are musical rivals has personal meaning for actress Jennifer Jason Leigh and her mother, screenwriter Barbara Turner". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  17. Jones, Jen (January 2004). "Acting From Experience". Dance Spirit. 8 (1): 36–41. ISSN 1094-0588. ProQuest 209295388.
  18. Stanhope, Kate (June 12, 2010). "HBO Orders Hemingway Film With Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen". TV Guide. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  19. "Candice Bergen producing film on her famed father". CBS News. The Associated Press. April 30, 2013. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  20. Fleming Jr, Mike (April 30, 2013). "Candice Bergen to Tell Story of Her Legendary Ventriloquist Father Edgar Bergen for Big Screen". Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  21. Chase, Chris (September 3, 1982). "At The Movies; Jennifer Leigh and her trip from X to R." The New York Times. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  22. "Reza S Badiyi - mentioned in the record of Reza S Badiyi and Barbara T Morrow". FamilySearch. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  23. "Awards & Nominations: Outstanding Writing In A Special Program - Drama Or Comedy - 1978". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. 1978. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  24. "TV, Film Writers Named as Finalists for Humanitas Prizes : Awards: Steven Zaillian earns nominations for 'Searching for Bobby Fischer,' 'Schindler's List' in the new feature category". Los Angeles Times. June 17, 1994. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  25. "Awards & Nominations: Outstanding Miniseries or Movie - 2012". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  26. Kim, Wook (February 18, 2013). "2013 WGA Awards: The Complete List of Winners". Time. Retrieved April 6, 2016.

Further reading

  • Turner, Barbara; Bartholomew, Caty (illustrations) (Spring 1996). "Georgia: Screenplay". Scenario. The Magazine of Screenwriting Art. New York, NY. 2 (1): 151–89. ISSN 1079-6851. OCLC 35737640.
  • McCreadie, Marsha (2006). "Chapter 4: Breakaway Queens and Genre Benders". Women Screenwriters Today: Their Lives and Words. Westport, CT: Praeger. ISBN 978-0-275-98542-4. OCLC 475146371.
  • McGilligan, Patrick (June 2008). "Chapter 12: Barbara Turner Free Spirit". Backstory 5: Interviews with Screenwriters of the 1990s. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-25105-2. OCLC 426147374.
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