Steve Tesich

Steve Tesich
Born Stojan Tešić
(1942-09-29)September 29, 1942
Užice, Yugoslavia
Died July 1, 1996(1996-07-01) (aged 53)
Sydney, Nova Scotia

Stojan Steve Tesich (Serbian: Стојан Стив Тешић, Stojan Stiv Tešić; September 29, 1942 – July 1, 1996) was a Serbian-American screenwriter,[1] playwright and novelist. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1979 for the movie Breaking Away.


Steve Tesich was born as Stojan Tešić (Serbian: Стојан Тешић, pronounced Tesh-ich) in Užice, in Axis-occupied Yugoslavia (now Serbia) on September 29, 1942, but immigrated to the USA in 1957 with his family when he was 14 years old. His father died in 1962.

His family settled in East Chicago, Indiana. Tesich graduated from Indiana University in 1965 with a BA in Russian, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. He went on to do graduate work at Columbia University, receiving an MA in Russian Literature in 1967. He also wrote his first plays while at Columbia University. After graduation, he worked as a Department of Welfare caseworker in Brooklyn, New York in 1968.[2]

He had been an alternate rider in 1962 for the Phi Kappa Psi team in the Little 500 bicycle race. His teammate was Dave Blase, who rode 139 of 200 laps and was the victory rider crossing the finish line for his team. They subsequently developed a friendship. Dave Blase was the model for the main character in Tesich's award-winning screenplay Breaking Away in 1979.

At a special screening of the 1985 cycling movie American Flyers starring Kevin Costner and Rae Dawn Chong in 1985, Tesich told the audience: “Many of you are better cyclists than I ever was, but I love this sport as much as anyone."[3]

His play Division Street opened on Broadway in 1980 starring John Lithgow and Keene Curtis and was revived in 1987. The 1980 production of Division Street played at the Ambassador Theatre in New York City. The production opened on October 8, 1980 and closed after 21 performances.


After achieving critical and box office success writing for both stage and screen in the 1970s and 1980s, he died following a heart attack at the age of 53 in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada on July 1, 1996.


His novel Karoo was published posthumously in 1998. Arthur Miller described the novel: "Fascinating—a real satiric invention full of wise outrage.” The novel was a New York Times Notable Book for 1998. The novel also appeared in a German translation as Abspann, and it was also translated in France in 2012 where it was acclaimed by the critics and became a best-seller [4]

Honors and awards

Steve Tesich won the following awards for the Breaking Away screenplay in 1979, whose original working title was Bambino:

Steve Tesich also received a nomination in 1980 for a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay-Motion Picture. The movie Breaking Away won the 1980 Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture-Musical/Comedy.

The screenplay to the movie was also published in book form as Breaking Away, 1979 (St. Martin's Original Screenplay Series). As a movie tie-in, a novelization of the screenplay was also published in 1979 by Warner Books in New York written by Joseph Howard based on the screenplay by Steve Tesich.

In 1973, Tesich won the Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Playwright for the play Baba Goya, which is also known under the title Nourish the Beast.

In 2005, the Serbian Ministry for diaspora established the annual Stojan—Steve Tešić Award, to be awarded to the writers of Serbian origin that write in other languages.









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