December 19, 2014

Mike Gray—A Remembrance

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF LUCAS GRAY

Mike Gray—A Remembrance

Mike Gray on the set of “Starman” at Warner Bros. Studios. Gray was an author, activist, and documentary filmmaker. His most memorable achievement was as co-writer on the Oscar nominated screenplay for The China Syndrome, the provocative and iconic 1979 film about a cover-up at a nuclear power plant.

Mike Gray, one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever known, died of heart failure on Tuesday, April 30th. He was 77.

Mike was an author, activist, and documentary filmmaker. His most memorable achievement was as co-writer on the Oscar nominated screenplay for The China Syndrome, the provocative and iconic 1979 film about a cover-up at a nuclear power plant. The film, starring, Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas was both a box-office and critical success. Mike also developed the story on which the screenplay was based after doing meticulous and in-depth research regarding the dangers of nuclear power.

No one realized when the film premiered, that life was about to imitate art. Barely three weeks after the movie opened, a nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania went into partial meltdown, almost exactly imitating the scenario of the film. A Newsweek reviewer described it as “a rare phenomenon—a piece of popular entertainment that immediately foreshadows a major news event and then helps explain it.”

Mike went on to write a book on Three Mile Island, and became a widely recognized expert on what had happened there.

Mike was brilliant, funny, warm, looney, generous, incredibly creative, and just one hell of a guy. He was a great friend. Except with Mike I remember him once telling me that Area 51 really did exist (which I believe) and he knew this because he had been there; and I believed him. But as the years went by, I often wondered if Mike was just pulling my leg, something he was known to do. Now I’ll never know.

Mike will be greatly missed by many people, including me. He was so vital, so passionate, so filled with the energy of and for life; he brought something to Topanga so uniquely his own that the air around him seemed to pulse with the immeasurable energies of stars aborning.