Robert Klane, ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ Screenwriter, Dies at 81

Robert Klane, screenwriter of films including “Weekend at Bernie’s” and “Where’s Poppa?,” died from kidney failure on Aug. 29 at his home in Woodland Hills, Calif. He was 81.

Klane’s son Jon shared the news with Variety in a statement, which reads, “Klane’s satirical and daring writing pushed the boundaries of good taste, while depicting the unfairness of life through themes of sex, family, madness and death.”

“Bob had a brilliant comedy mind that went deeper and deeper to get to the truth,” said filmmaker and actor Rob Reiner, who appeared in “Where’s Poppa?” “Most people have a censor in their minds and know how far they can go. Bob didn’t have a censor. That’s what made him great and set him apart. He was fearless.”

Klane wrote the screenplays for dark comedies such as 1989’s “Weekend at Bernie’s” and its 1993 sequel, as well as 1970’s “Where’s Poppa?,” which is based on his novel of the same name. His other screenwriting credits include “Every Little Crook and Nanny,” “Unfaithfully Yours,” “The Man With One Red Shoe,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Folks!” and “National Lampoon’s European Vacation.”

Klane was born on Oct. 17, 1941, in Port Jefferson, Long Island. His mother Adele was a homemaker and community volunteer, and his father Edward was a physician.

After graduating from Bayport High School, Klane attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, earning a degree in English in 1963.

Random House published Klane’s first novel, “The Horse Is Dead,” in 1967. Along with adapting “Where’s Poppa?” into a film, with Carl Reiner as director, Klane adapted his 1975 novel “Fire Sale” into the 1977 comedy directed by and starring Alan Arkin.

Klane’s directorial debut “Thank God It’s Friday” starred Donna Summers and featured the singer-songwriter performing “Last Dance,” which scored the Oscar for best song in 1978. He also directed “Weekend at Bernie’s II” and the TV movie “The Odd Couple: Together Again.”

Klane’s television writing credits include “M*A*S*H” and “Tracy Takes on…,” which won an Emmy for best variety or musical program.

Klane is survived by his wife J.C. Scott, his brother Larry, his sons David and Jon, his daughter Caitlin and five grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughter Tracy in 2011.

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