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Czech writer, screenwriter Zdeněk Mahler dies aged 89

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Prague, March 18 (CTK) – Czech writer and screenwriter Zdenek Mahler, who wrote dozens of books as well as film and television scripts and co-worked on Milos Forman’s Oscar-winning film Amadeus, died in Prague’s Central Military hospital at the age of 89 years on Saturday, his family told CTK on Sunday.

Mahler, born on December 7, 1928, studied Czech and English at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague where he received a doctorate in 1952.

Afterwards, he shortly worked for the Czech radio and at the culture and education ministries. He was also a programme adviser at the Laterna magica multimedia theatre in Prague and participated in its presentation at the Expo world exhibition in Brussels in 1958. He was a freelance author from 1960.

Mahler wrote several books on significant Czech and foreign personalities in the spheres of culture and politics, such as composers Antonin Dvorak, Bedrich Smetana and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the first Czechoslovak president Tomas Garrigue Masaryk (1918-35) and the 19th-century Czech poet, critic, politician and journalist Karel Havlicek Borovsky.

Mahler is also the author or co-author of a number film and TV scripts, including for the Riders in the Sky (Nebesti jezdci, 1968) cult movie about Czechoslovak pilots in the Royal Air Force (RAF) sevice in Britain during WW2 and most recently, Lidice (2011) on the obliteration of this Czech village by the Nazis in 1942.

In the 1980s, Mahler cooperated as an expert adviser on the script of Amadeus (1984), a film on Mozart based on Peter Shaffer’s play and directed by Czech-born Milos Forman, which was partially shot in Prague and won eight Oscar Academy Awards.

In 1994, Mahler appeared in a tree-sequel TV documentary programme, The Cathedral, introducing the history of St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle, where Czech patron saints and kings lie buried and crown jewels are kept. He wrote a script for the series and a book on the topic.

It was broadcast during the closely-watched lengthy dispute about the ownership of the cathedral between the Catholic Church and the state. It resulted in a settlement after years under which the cathedral legally belongs to the state, while the church uses it for religious purposes.

Mahler published his own memoirs shortly before his 87th birthday.

Mahler received the Artis Bohemiae Amicis medal for his contribution to Czech culture from the culture minister in 2003 and the prize of the Czech Writers’ Union in 2011.

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