1926 - 2003

"Hollywood is an extraordinary kind of temporary place."

- John Schlesinger

Growing up in a Jewish middle-class London household, John Schlesinger began making short films as a boy. After serving in WWII he attended college and made his first serious short film, ‘Black Legend.’ The film world first took notice when his 1960 documentary ‘Terminus’ won a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award. He transitioned to feature films with ‘A Kind of Loving’ (1962) and ‘Billy Liar’ (1963). ‘Darling’ (1965), Schlesinger’s dissection of the superficiality of the jet set, starred Julie Christie and garnered for him his first Oscar nomination. In 1967 he directed Christie again in his adaptation of the Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Maddening Crowd. In 1969 Schlesinger made his first US film, the international groundbreaking hit ‘Midnight Cowboy’ which won him the Best Directing Oscar. In 1970 he was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services in film. In 1971 he was nominated for an Academy Award once again for directing ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday,’ heralded as one of the first mainstream films to explore homosexuality with sensitivity and perception. Schlesinger is widely recognized for bringing controversial subjects to mainstream cinema. His additional films include ‘The Day of the Locust’ (1975), ‘Marathon Man’ (1976), ‘Madame Sousatzka’ (1988) and ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ (1995). Throughout his film career he continued to direct stage productions and eventually became the associate director of the National Theatre in London. Schlesinger suffered a severe stroke in 2000. His life partner of over 30 years, photographer Michael Childers, took him off life support on July 23, 2003. He died the following day.


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White Jewish

Faith Construct Judaic

Nations Affiliated United Kingdom

Era/Epoch Information Age (1970-present) World War II (1939-1945)

Field(s) of Contribution





Commemorations & Honors

Academy Award for Best Director Midnight Cowboy (1970)

BAFTA Award for Best Director Midnight Cowboy (1970)

Directors Guild of America Winner for Midnight Cowboy (1970)

Appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for Services to Film (1970)

BAFTA Award for Best Director Sunday Bloody Sunday (1972)

Directors Guild of Great Britain Lifetime Achievement Award (2002)

Received a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California Walk of Stars (2003)


Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell