World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Stirling Silliphant

Article Id: WHEBN0002073839
Reproduction Date:

Title: Stirling Silliphant  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: The Towering Inferno, Akiva Goldsman, Oliver Stone, Francis Ford Coppola, Salween (film)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Stirling Silliphant

Stirling Dale Silliphant
Born January 16, 1918
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Died April 26, 1996(1996-04-26) (aged 78)
Bangkok, Thailand [1]
Cause of death
prostate cancer [2]
Alma mater University of Southern California (B.A., 1938) [1][3][4]
Occupation Screenwriter; producer
Known for Naked City TV series and In the Heat of the Night
Home town Glendale, California
Spouse(s) Tiana Alexandra Du Long (1974-1996; his death) [1]
Children Stirling and Dayle [1]
Parents Leigh Silliphant (father)
Ethel Silliphant (mother) [3]

Stirling Dale Silliphant (January 16, 1918 – April 26, 1996) was an American screenwriter and producer. His father, Sterling Silliphant, was a Canadian who immigrated to the United States in 1911, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1916. His mother was Ethel M. Silliphant. He had one brother, Leigh, who was three years younger.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, his family moved to Glendale, California when he was a child. He graduated from Hoover High School, and was educated at the University of Southern California. He may be best known for his screenplay for In the Heat of the Night and co-creating the television series Route 66. Other features as screenwriter include the Irwin Allen productions The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure, adapting both films from previously published novels. In the case of The Towering Inferno, he was tasked with blending two separate novels, The Tower, by Richard Martin Stern, and The Glass Inferno, by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson, into a single screenplay.[5]

He was a close friend of Bruce Lee, under whom he studied martial arts. Lee was featured in the Silliphant-penned detective movie Marlowe and four episodes of the series Longstreet. Silliphant reportedly recommended Lee for action choreography work. They had been working on a philosophical martial arts script, The Silent Flute (later known as Circle of Iron), which was to star Lee and James Coburn, and the pre-production even went to the extent of all three going to India on a location hunt.


Silliphant was a film and television writer with more than 700 hours of prime-time television drama to his credit, many of which earned Emmys for their producers, directors, and cast members. However, he never received an Emmy personally as writer. Time in 1967 referred to him in a feature article with the statement: "The moving finger...having written, moved on!"

Production manager Sam Manners called him from the road unit of Route 66 from El Paso, Texas. He told Stirling they could save perhaps a hundred thousand dollars if Stirling could write an extra story for the show that could be shot in El Paso while all the production trucks and crew were there. Silliphant obliged and had the script ready to shoot in a couple of days. The guest star was Albert Dekker, who was flown in to do the part over the weekend.


In the earlier part of his career, he was publicity director for Walt Disney, and was lead writer on the stories incorporated into The Mickey Mouse Club. He produced several independent films such as 5 Against the House with Kim Novak, Huk! and Maracaibo. Later he broke into television, writing for the live Playhouse 90. Perry Mason and Alfred Hitchcock Presents soon followed.

Silliphant was known for his involvement in two TV series of the sixties, Route 66 and Naked City. Silliphant was quoted as saying that a number of his Naked City scripts were far superior to the script that won him the Oscar for In the Heat of the Night. One of his later series creations was Longstreet, which featured a blind detective played by James Franciscus, who had also starred in the first season of The Naked City.

He wrote three television miniseries: Pearl (about the attack on Pearl Harbor), Space (based on the James Michener novel about America's early space program), and Mussolini: The Untold Story. He wrote the script for a never-produced TV miniseries of Atlas Shrugged, the novel by Ayn Rand.


In total he wrote or co-wrote 47 feature films, including Village of the Damned, the Charles Bronson spy thriller Telefon, The Liberation of L.B. Jones, The Killer Elite, the Dirty Harry film The Enforcer and Over the Top (the latter with its star Sylvester Stallone).

In addition to the Academy Award, In the Heat of the Night also earned Silliphant an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America, for Best Motion Picture Screenplay. He helped to pull film concepts together. He penned the screenplay for Shaft in Africa, the third film in the Shaft series. With Chatrichalerm Yukol, he co-wrote the screenplay to the 1994 Thai action film, Salween. His last screenplay was for the 1995 film, The Grass Harp. Although he worked constantly in Hollywood, he had a well-known aversion against living in Southern California, where he had grown up. After he became successful and famous, he built a house for himself and his family in Tiburon, California and commuted regularly by air to Los Angeles.


He died in in 1996 in Bangkok, Thailand, where he had resided since 1988.[1] His work papers are archived at UCLA's Westwood campus.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e Gussow, Mel, "Stirling Silliphant, 78, Writer; Won 'Heat of the Night' Oscar", The New York Times, April 27, 1996
  2. ^ Oliver, Myrna, "Stirling Silliphant; Oscar-Winning Writer", The Los Angeles Times, April 27, 1996
  3. ^ a b "Biography: Stirling Silliphant", Turner Classic Movies
  4. ^ "Profile: Stirling Silliphant", Museum of Broadcast Communications, Chicago.
  5. ^ Sandford, Christopher (2003). McQueen: The Biography. Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 318.  
  6. ^ "UCLA: Stirling Silliphant Papers"

Further reading

  • Segaloff, Nat, Stirling Silliphant: The Fingers of God, BearManor Media, 2013. ISBN 9781593937584

External links

  • Stirling Silliphant at the Internet Movie Database
  • Stirling Silliphant profile at The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show website
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.