National Obituary Review

Dead Person of the Day – April 9 – Richard Condon

0 Comments 09 April 2013


Richard Condon started out slinging publicity for Snow White and Dumbo, went on to act as press agent for some of Hollywood’s biggest stars then, at the age of 43, turned himself into a best-selling novelist with The Manchurian Candidate.  He remained a best-seller with over 25 novels to his credit over a career which spanned almost 40 more years.

The Manchurian Candidate was a phenomenal book and a good film. It captured the vibrant balance between paranoia, jingoism and freudian behavioral psychology present during the Cold War. In addition to a tour de force from Frank Sinatra, the film also provided a breakout role for a young, electric Angela Lansbury. Boy, she radiated right off the screen (a luminescence she carried with her throughout her career right up to Murder, She Wrote.

Interestingly enough Sinatra also owned the rights to the film and after President Kennedy was assassinated withdrew it, supposedly for its prescient foretelling of the Kennedy assassination (it was 25 years before it was seen on the cinema screen again).

Condon’s writing often attracted that kind of controversy. The Manchurian Candidate bore no relation to the Kennedy assassination but he later wrote three novels based on that event. The best known, Winter Kills (1974), was in 1979 made into an ingenious film starring Jeff Bridges and directed by John Huston. Although it got rave US reviews it was pulled from cinemas after a couple of weeks and simply disappeared. Condon believed that “Senator Edward Kennedy’s dislike of the film was made known”. Coincidentally or not, the company behind the financing of the film also got $90m of defence contracts each year. Smells like bowl of clam chowder left in a car for a week in July eh?

Richard Condon, Political Novelist, Dies at 81

Published: April 10, 1996
Richard Condon, the fiendishly inventive novelist and political satirist who wrote “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Winter Kills” and “Prizzi’s Honor,” among other books, died yesterday at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. He was 81. Continue


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