Lonne Elder, III
Though more playwright than screenwriter, Lonne Elder III won an Oscar nomination for his intelligent and sensitive adaptation of the classic children's story Sounder. In the theater world, Elder had a reputation for bringing classic African-American literature by such authors as Langston Hughes and Douglas Turner to life on the stage. A native of Americus, GA, but raised in Jersey City, NJ, Elder started out as an actor. He took his first Broadway vows in plays like A Raisin in the Sun. While pursuing his acting career, Elder also functioned as the leader of the playwrights' unit of the Negro Ensemble Corporation. Elder's first produced play was done through the NEC and performed in 1969 to good reviews. For a time, Elder studied filmmaking at Yale and then moved west to write the screenplay for Sounder (1972). Four years later, Elder wrote the sequel. Elder is known for focusing on subjects that reflect the American blacks' fight for equality in films such as his award-winning screenplay A Woman Called Moses (1978), an adaptation of the true-life story. After suffering from a chronic illness, Elder passed away in Los Angeles on June 11, 1996; he was 69.