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Benedict Fitzgerald Dies: Screenwriter For ‘The Passion of the Christ’ Was 74

Benedict Fitzgerald, best known as the screenwriter of The Passion of the Christ, died at home in Marsala, Sicily after a long illness on January 17, 2024. He was 74 and no cause of death was given by his family.

He first won acclaim for his screenplay adaptation of Flannery O’Connor’s novel Wise Blood, cowritten with his brother, Michael. The film, produced in 1979 by Michael and Kathy Fitzgerald and directed by John Huston, starred Brad Dourif, Harry Dean Stanton, and Ned Beatty.

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Fitzgerald specialized in literary adaptions, among them Zelda, (starring Natasha Richardson and Timothy Hutton) in 1993; Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in 1993 (starring John Malkovich); a television mini-series of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood in 1996 (starring Eric Roberts, Anthony Edwards and nominated for 2 primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Miniseries) and Moby Dick in 1998 (starring Patrick Stewart as Ahab and nominated for 5 primetime Emmy awards).

The Passion Of The Christ (2004), the fruit of a two-year collaboration with Mel Gibson, became the largest-grossing independent film of all-time.

Fitzgerald was born March 9, 1949, in New York. He was the second child of Sally Fitzgerald (The Habit of Being, letters of Flannery O’Connor) and poet and translator Robert Fitzgerald, whose translations of Homer, Virgil, and Sophocles are considered definitive to this day. He was raised in Italy, attended boarding school in Rhode Island and graduated from Harvard University in 1972.

He married Karen Mason in 1991. He is survived by his wife, daughters Eugenie, Helena, and Olimpia, and three grandchildren, as well as siblings Ughetta, Maria, Michael, Barnaby, and Caterina.

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