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E. M. Nathanson

  • Birthplace: The Bronx, New York
  • Birthday: February 17
Date of passing: 
April 05, 2016

E. M. Nathanson was a writer best known for penning the novel The Dirty Dozen, which was adapted into the 1967 film starring Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Charles Bronson. The story followed U.S. Army Major Reisman (Marvin) as he trained and led a dozen convicted felons into battle during World War II.

The film, which also featured John Cassavetes, George Kennedy and Donald Sutherland, was nominated for four Oscars. It ranked No. 65 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest suspense/thriller movies in American film.

Nathanson’s novel was also adapted into the short-lived 1988 television show Dirty Dozen: The Series. In 1985, the telefilm The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission was released, featuring much of the original feature film’s cast, followed two years later by the telefilms Dirty Dozen: The Deadly Mission and Dirty Dozen: The Fatal Mission.

The novel itself was based on a supposedly true story of some criminal soldiers who got the nickname the Dirty Dozen (or Filthy Thirteen, depending on the source) for their refusal to bathe and who were said to have been sent on a similar mission.

E. M. Nathanson was a writer best known for penning the novel The Dirty Dozen, which was adapted into the 1967 film starring Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Charles Bronson. The story followed U.S. Army Major Reisman (Marvin) as he trained and led a dozen convicted felons into battle during World War II.

The film, which also featured John Cassavetes, George Kennedy and Donald Sutherland, was nominated for four Oscars. It ranked No. 65 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest suspense/thriller movies in American film.

Nathanson’s novel was also adapted into the short-lived 1988 television show Dirty Dozen: The Series. In 1985, the telefilm The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission was released, featuring much of the original feature film’s cast, followed two years later by the telefilms Dirty Dozen: The Deadly Mission and Dirty Dozen: The Fatal Mission.

The novel itself was based on a supposedly true story of some criminal soldiers who got the nickname the Dirty Dozen (or Filthy Thirteen, depending on the source) for their refusal to bathe and who were said to have been sent on a similar mission.

Nathanson researched the story for two years, but could not verify its accuracy, so he decided to fictionalize the account. The best-selling novel sold more than 2 million copies and was translated into 10 languages. In 1987 he published a sequel, A Dirty Distant War, which picked up the story of Reisman.

The author wrote four other novels: The Latecomers, It Gave Everybody Something to Do, Knight’s Cross and Lovers and Schemers.

A native New Yorker, Nathanson majored in anthropology at New York University. He began his career as a journalist for Women’s Wear Daily when he was 17, and later worked for The Washington Post, The Arlington Sun, Daring Detective magazine and as a freelance journalist.

Nathanson died April 5, 2016, in Laguna Niguel, California. He was 88.

 

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