Mike Gray, the documentarian, activist and screenwriter of The China Syndrome, died of heart failure Tuesday at his Los Angeles home, his wife Carol told The New York Times. He was 77.
Gray addressed problematic social issues in both his writing and filmmaking, including two documentaries on race relations in Chicago and books on American drug policy and NASA. But Gray is most famous for penning the 1979 film The China Syndrome, which tackled the safety of nuclear power plants. The film starred Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas, who also produced it, and earned Gray an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
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A few weeks after the film was released, the real-life nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island had a terrible accident, solidifying the film's fearful message.
Gray renounced his Goldwater Republican ways and became an activist after filming police beatings of protestors at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. He turned to more politically inspired endeavors afterward, but the science-fiction fan also wrote a feature film Wavelength and produced episodes of Stark Trek: The Next Generation.
Besides his wife, Gray is survived by his brother Dudley and his son Lucas.