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Film Writer Silliphant Dies At 78

Stirling Silliphant, the prolific writer who won an Academy Award for his 1967 screenplay “In the Heat of the Night” and critical praise for his television detective series “Naked City,” died Friday. He was 78.

Silliphant died of prostate cancer in Bangkok, Thailand, where he had lived since 1988.

In addition to the Oscar-winning racial thriller starring Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier, Silliphant penned such successful disaster films as “The Towering Inferno,” “The Poseidon Adventure,” “The New Centurions” and Sylvester Stallone’s “Over the Top.”

His gentler “Charly” starring Cliff Robertson in 1968 won a Golden Globe Award as did his screenplay for “In the Heat of the Night.”

Tiring of Hollywood power plays seven years ago, Silliphant sold two houses, six cars and a yacht and moved to his favorite vacation spot - Thailand - with the idea of creating a production center for English-language feature films and television programs. He also became a fervent Buddhist.

Although he was known for his crime and action films, Silliphant also wrote the classic science fiction thriller “Village of the Damned” about eerie alien children, “Shaft” and last year the comedy of Truman Capote’s autobiographical novel “The Grass Harp.”

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