Robert Mulligan, Director, is Dead at 83

Warner Brothers, via Associated Press

Robert Mulligan in 1988.

The cause was heart disease, his nephew Robert Rosenthal said.

Mr. Mulligan received an Academy Award nomination for the film, based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about rape, racism and injustice in the Depression-era South. Gregory Peck won an Oscar for his portrayal of Atticus Finch, the Alabama lawyer who defends a black man (played by Brock Peters) falsely accused of raping a white woman. The film also won Oscars for its screenplay, by Horton Foote, and for art direction.

In interviews over the years, Robert Mulligan was often asked how a boy from the Bronx developed such an affinity for films with small-town Southern settings. The answer, he said, lay in the shared passion of both places for spinning fabulous yarns. As he told The Boston Herald in 1991: “Coming from Bronx Irish is hardly Southern. But there was that sense of the Irish storytellers, the fairy tales.”

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