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Peter Shaffer dead: 'Amadeus,' 'Equus' writer dies at 90

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AP

Peter Shaffer, the Oscar-winning writer who penned works like Amadeus and Equus died Monday in Ireland, according to his agent. He was 90.

The English-born Shaffer, who was knighted in 2001, wrote 18 plays over his lengthy career, including The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Black Comedy, and Lettice and Lovage, but he was perhaps best known for writing the plays Equus and Amadeus, both of which he adapted for the big screen.

First staged in London in 1973, Equus soon transferred to Broadway, where it won the 1975 Tony Award for best play. The Broadway version ran for more than 1,200 performances, and over the years, Anthony Hopkins, Anthony Perkins, and Leonard Nimoy all tackled the role of the psychiatrist Martin Dysart. Sidney Lumet’s 1977 movie version starred Richard Burton and Peter Firth, both of whom earned an Academy Award nomination. Shaffer earned an Oscar nod as well for best adapted screenplay. Daniel Radcliffe starred in the 2007 West End revival, which later transferred to Broadway.

Shaffer also found critical acclaim with the 1979 play Amadeus, which follows the relationship between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his rival, Antonio Salieri. Like Equus, Amadeus soon transferred to Broadway, where it ran for more than 1,800 performances and earned seven Tony nominations. Shaffer also penned the script for the 1984 film adaptation, directed by Milos Forman and starring F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce. In all, Amadeus earned 11 Academy Award nominations and won eight, including best adapted screenplay for Shaffer.

Survivors include his brother Brian, his nephews Milo and Mark, and his nieces Cressida and Claudia. Shaffer’s identical twin brother, Anthony Shaffer, was also a playwright and screenwriter who wrote Sleuth and The Wicker Man. Anthony died in 2001 at age 75.