COLIN HIGGINS (d. 1988); American actor, director, producer and screenwriter, was born.
Higgins studied a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting at UCLA, where his classmates included Paul Schrader. While there he made two short films, Opus One (1968), a satire on student films, and Retreat, an anti-war statement. His M.F.A. thesis would serve as the basis for the film Harold and Maude (1971).
After graduating he went to work for a wealthy family in Los Angeles as a part-time chauffeur and pool cleaner in exchange for free accommodation, where he met a film producer; Higgins showed a draft of Harold and Maude to the producer, who then showed it to Robert Evans at Paramount. Higgins wanted to direct the script himself and was allowed to shoot a director’s test for $7,000 but Paramount were not sufficiently impressed, and Hal Ashny was hired. Higgins collaborated well with Ashby and both were pleased with the final film, but it was not a large box-office success on original release.
Harold and Maude was an even larger success in France than in the U.S.— so much so that it was adapted for the theater in French by Higgins himself, and productions of the play have flourished there since the seventies, including one directed by Children of Paradise star Jean-Louis Barrault In 1976 he had a hit with the movie Silver Streak.
The success of Silver Streak enabled Higgins to direct his next script, Foul Play (1978). It was enormously popular at the box office and launched his directing career. He was writing a comedy-thriller, The Man Who Lost Tuesday when he received an offer to re-write and direct 9 to 5 (1980). It was a big hit, as was the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982) which Higgins directed.
In 1986 he was reportedly writing a script, Washington Girls, as a vehicle to reunite Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. His last credit was a TV movie, Out on a Limb (1987) which he co-wrote and co-produced.
Higgins died of an AIDS-related death at his home in August 1988. Established in 1986, the Colin Higgins Foundation provides support for LGBT youth. It was established by Higgins following his diagnosis with HIV in 1985. His writing is said to have inspired filmmakers like Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, Wes Anderson and Paul Feig..