Bob Rafelson, director of Five Easy Pieces, dies at 89

Robert Rafelson was born on February 21, 1933 in New York City. His father was a hat-maker and expected his sons to enter the family business. But Mr. Raffelson found inspiration in his screenwriter uncle Samson Rafelsonwho has worked with director Ernst Lubitsch on several films, including “Trouble in Paradise” and “The Shop Around the Corner”.

Rebellious from his comfortable upbringing on the Upper West Side, Mr. Raffelson left home as a teenager to work at rodeos in Arizona and played with a jazz band in Acapulco, Mexico. He returned to the United States to study philosophy at Dartmouth College and upon graduation he joined the military. He served in Japan, where he worked as a DJ coordinator for the Far Eastern Network of military radio and television stations. He was court-martialed twice, once for hitting an officer and again for making obscene words on air.

A childhood moviegoer, Mr. Raffelson was exposed to foreign films at a young age, and while in Tokyo he worked as a consultant for the Japanese studio Shuchiko. Returning to New York, he began working as a story editor on the TV anthology series Play of the Week.

After moving to Los Angeles in 1962 with his first wife, Toby Carr, a production designer, he continued to work in television, but formatting limitations were unsuitable for his eclectic ambitions and tastes.

He lost his job at Universal Pictures’ television arm when he got into an argument with the Hollywood giant Lou Wasserman on casting selection. Mr. Rafelson knocked everything on Mr. Wasserman’s desk on the floor and was escorted out of the building.

At Screen Gems, then a television company of Columbia Pictures, he met Mr. Schneider, whose father, Abraham, was a senior Columbia executive. The two well-connected young producers sought to capitalize on Beatlemania’s success with a show about the invented pop band. Their ads looking for “4 Crazy Boys, 17-21” resulted in the Monkees, and the Charismatic Activists became chart nicknames.

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