Screenwriter Shaffer dies aged 75

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The Independent Culture

Anthony Shaffer, the British screenwriter and playwright whose works included The Wicker Man and Sleuth, died aged 75 yesterday.

The twin of the playwright Peter Shaffer, who wrote Equus and Amadeus, died from a heart attack at his home in Fulham, west London.

His close friend and agent Kenneth Ewing said that he was in the same class as his brother as "one of the top-rank writers in European literary history".

Anthony Shaffer was educated at St Paul's School and Cambridge University and worked briefly in the mines before training as a barrister and then working in journalism and on television commercials.

Much of his writing displayed a fascination with duplicity and manipulation. He once said: "There is no such thing as a true story."

His most famous work is the 1970 play Sleuth, which was also his first work for the stage. It broke all records on Broadway where it ran for 2,000 performances and achieved a similarly unprecedented run in London. Focusing on the gulf between the British establishment and the emerging entrepreneurial classes, it was turned by the director Joseph L Mankiewicz into a successful film starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine.

Shaffer wrote in the Seventies for Alfred Hitchcock and produced Frenzy, the director's graphic tale of a serial sex murderer operating in Covent Garden. He fell out with Hitchcock over one particularly brutal scene and will be remembered as one of the few collaborators who dared to direct him in direction.

He is survived by his third wife Diane Cilento – the Australian actress and the former wife of Sir Sean Connery whom Shaffer met on the set of The Wicker Man – and two daughters, Cressida and Claudia, from his second marriage.

A book of his memoirs, entitled So What Did You Expect, is due to be published on 23 November by Picador.

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