Oscar-Winner David Seidler, 'The King’s Speech' Writer, Passes at 86

From stutter to screenplay, a writer's inspiring legacy unfolds.

by Nouman Rasool
Oscar-Winner David Seidler, 'The King’s Speech' Writer, Passes at 86
© Jason Kempin/Getty Images

David Seidler, the celebrated screenwriter whose personal battle with a stutter inspired the creation of the Oscar-winning film "The King’s Speech," passed away on March 16 during a fishing trip in New Zealand, at the age of 86.

The announcement of his passing was made by his manager, Jeff Aghassi, who did not specify the cause of death. Seidler, a resident of Santa Fe, N.M., had previously faced a diagnosis of bladder cancer in the mid-2000s. Aghassi commemorated Seidler's final moments, stating, “David was in the place he cherished most, doing what brought him utmost tranquility: fly-fishing in New Zealand.

This serene conclusion was precisely as he might have envisioned for himself”. "The King’s Speech" intricately explores the poignant relationship between Britain's King George VI, portrayed by Colin Firth, and his speech therapist Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush.

This narrative, set against the backdrop of World War II, not only showcases the king's valiant efforts to conquer his stammer but also highlights his endeavor to unite and inspire the British populace amidst the looming threat of Hitler's Germany.

The film, directed by Tom Hooper, achieved global acclaim, grossing over $420 million and earning Seidler an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay at the age of 73, marking him as one of the oldest recipients of this honor.

Seidler's Formative Journey

Born in Britain and raised on Long Island, Seidler's early life was marked by the challenge of overcoming a stutter. This personal struggle deeply informed the creation of "The King’s Speech." His journey to Hollywood was anything but direct, encompassing roles as diverse as a political adviser in Fiji and a creative director in New Zealand.

Before its cinematic success, Seidler had considered the screenplay for decades, ultimately waiting for approval from Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, to bring the story to life following her passing in 2002. Seidler's portrayal of stuttering in "The King’s Speech" challenged and changed public perceptions, moving away from the often comedic or derogatory representations seen in media.

His narrative was one of empathy and understanding, drawn from his own experiences. He often spoke of the transformative power of writing and speaking as a means to confront and transcend the challenges of stuttering. Beyond "The King’s Speech," Seidler's career spanned various projects, including work on Godzilla film adaptations and television movies such as "Onassis: The Richest Man in the World." Despite facing professional setbacks and navigating through an industry fraught with challenges, Seidler remained dedicated to storytelling, continuously working on projects up until his final years.