A playwright, screenwriter, poet and essayist, he was an adjunct professor of Screenwriting at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and Barnard College, as well as NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Among his former students are James Mangold (“Girl Interrupted,” “Walk the Line”) and Greg Mottola (“Superbad,” “Adventureland”).
After receiving his MFA from the Yale School of Drama in 1982, Gallo met Huston, who was impressed by his adaptation of Malcolm Lowry’s novel, and made the film version. Starring Albert Finney and Jacqueline Bisset, it was released in 1984 and was a selection of the Cannes Film Festival.
Gallo wrote over a dozen feature screenplays, and had four others produced. Among them was an adaptation, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” Part I, which American Playhouse broadcast in 1986; its cast included Lillian Gish and Geraldine Page.
Born February 16, 1955 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Gallo was also a poet. His latest collection of poems, “Yearning’s End,” will be published this year by Finishing Line Press. After earning his AB from Harvard, he received an MA in Playwriting from Hunter College in 1979, and had numerous plays produced.
For over two decades, he was a rigorous and nurturing mentor at Columbia University. He taught both graduate and—especially at Barnard–undergraduate students, utilizing a deep grounding in history, philosophy, and the arts. In the early l990s, he also offered a course on Dada and Surrealism in Film and Theatre.
His book, “Screenwriter’s Compass: Character as True North,” was published in 2012 by Focal Press: it was hailed as a superb study of dramatic construction, informed by his vast experience as both screenwriter and professor. As Terry Jones, screenwriter of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “Life of Brian” wrote, “It’s simply the best book about writing for the screen I’ve read.”
Gallo is survived by his wife, Jeannine Dominy, whose screenplays include “Dangerous Beauty”; daughter Dominy, 13, and son Whitmore, 8.
A memorial service will take place in February. In lieu of flowers, those who wish to make a donation in his memory are invited to contribute to a Columbia Scholarship Fund being established in his name.