Stephen Verona, 'Lords of Flatbush' writer, director, and producer, dies at 78

Known for his works on 'The Lords of Flatbush', 'The Rehearsal' and 'Pipe Dreams', Stephen Verona breathed his last in Los Angeles, California after an 18-month battle with lung cancer.

                            Stephen Verona, 'Lords of Flatbush' writer, director, and producer, dies at 78


Director Stephen F. Verona who was known for his works on 'The Lords of Flatbush' (1974), 'The Rehearsal' (1969) and 'Pipe Dreams' (1976) has died at the age of 78. He breathed his last in Los Angeles, California, after an 18-month battle with lung cancer, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

He co-wrote, co-directed and co-produced 'The Lord of Flatbush', which starred young actors Sylvester Stallone and Henry Winkler. Stallone played Stanley Rosiello in the film and Winkler featured as Butchey Weinstein in the movie that follows four Brooklyn teenagers who hang out at a local malt shop. "When you realize that Sly became Rocky and Henry became Fonzie and those characters were created by me for Lords … it revolutionized movies and television," Verona said. His wife, Ann, told The Hollywood Reporter in the same interview that Stallone sent him an email saying that his career would not be the same when he learned that Verona was ill. 

For a brief time, Verona was also a director at Strasberg's famed Actors Studio and created a 17-minute live-action short film based on his experience, 'The Rehearsal', which earned him an Oscar nomination in 1972. His experience of teaming up with Strasberg was not good as the two "did not get along". But when the short film was nominated, the latter called him up. He also has the 1979 Lee Strasberg-Ruth Gordon-starrer 'Boardwalk' that played at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival and a few music videos to his credit. 

Born on September 11, 1940, in Springfield, Illinois, Verona studied at Madison High School in Brooklyn and then attended an art school in New York. Later, he served as a creative director at the advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather. During a shoot, he met John Lennon and collaborated with him on an animated short film based on The Beatles' song 'I Feel Fine'. Other films Verona worked on include Gladys Knight’s acting debut “Pipe Dreams”.

He also shot promotional short films at CBS/Columbia Records from 1970-72 and teamed up with celebrities like Barbra Streisand, Chicago, Santana, Roberta Flack and The Lovin' Spoonful. The filmmaker also had a penchant for painting and photography.

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