David Berry, Playwright and Screenwriter, Dies at 73


Photo

From left, Lillian Gish and Bette Davis in David Berry’s 1987 film, “The Whales of August.”

Credit
Alive Films

David Berry, a playwright and screenwriter best known for the play and film “The Whales of August,” died on Dec. 16 at his home in Brooklyn. He was 73.

The cause was a heart attack, his ex-wife, Robin Schmidt, said.

“The Whales of August,” about two elderly sisters summering off the coast of Maine, was inspired by Mr. Berry’s childhood memories of aunts who had a cottage there. It was presented at the WPA Theater in Lower Manhattan, starring Bettie Indrizzi and Elizabeth Council.

Mr. Berry wrote the screenplay for the 1987 movie version, directed by Lindsay Anderson and starring Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, Vincent Price and Ann Sothern. It was Ms. Gish’s last film.

Both the stage and movie versions were popular in Japan, with a national tour in 2013 and a movie-themed bar in Shibuya bearing the name. Ms. Schmidt recalled that even though Mr. Berry did not speak Japanese, he wept while watching the Japanese version of the play, saying it was the best production he had ever seen.