Sir Peter Shaffer, ‘Amadeus’ writer, dies at 90

Peter Shaffer, the Tony-winning playwright and Oscar-winning screenwriter of Amadeus, has passed away at age 90.

While visiting Ireland, Shaffer died from an illness in a hospital with family by his side, according to Daily Mail.

Born in Liverpool in 1926, Shaffer grew an affection for the arts after studying history on a scholarship at Trinity College in Cambridge. After Shaffer’s first play, The Salt Land, was a success in 1954, he wrote the play Five Finger Exercise, which earned a nomination for the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Foreign Play.

Shaffer eventually wrote Equus, about a psychiatrist treating a young man who has an insane fascination with horses, that won the 1975 Tony Award for Best Play. Equus was adapted into a film in 1977 by director Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon) with Shaffer himself writing the screenplay. The movie was nominated for three Oscars including Best Adapted Screenplay for Shaffer. The play was recently revived in 2009 with Daniel Radcliffe in the lead, earning Radcliffe a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Play.

Following up with Amadeus, a fictionalized story about the life of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Shaffer earned his second Tony Award for Best Play in 1981. Miloš Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) directed the film adaption of Amadeus, which was once again written by Shaffer. Amadeus took home eight Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Shaffer. Jump to 6:15 in the video below for Shaffer’s acceptance speech.

Shaffer became Sir Peter Shaffer, CBE, after he was knighted in 1987. He then became a Knight Bachelor in 2001.

Shaffer is survived by his brother, two nephews and two nieces. Peter’s twin, Anthony Shaffer, wrote the 1970 play Sleuth which took home the Tony Award for Best Play and the 1973 horror film The Wicker Man starring Christopher Lee. Anthony died in 2001 at age 75.

According to BBC, a private funeral for Peter will be held in London and a memorial ceremony will eventually take place.

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