Paul Bartel

Actor, Director
Paul Bartel


Birth Place
Brooklyn, New York, USA
August 06, 1938
May 13, 2000
Cause of Death
Heart Attack


One of the few openly gay directors in Hollywood, Paul Bartel is a visual satirist who has directed a range of bawdy, violent, sophisticated and nearly always controversial films. His work is distinguished primarily by its subject matter rather than by its style. Bartel's interest in film began at the age of nine. He went to the movies often, frequently at a film club which showed 16mm p...


One of the few openly gay directors in Hollywood, Paul Bartel is a visual satirist who has directed a range of bawdy, violent, sophisticated and nearly always controversial films. His work is distinguished primarily by its subject matter rather than by its style.

Bartel's interest in film began at the age of nine. He went to the movies often, frequently at a film club which showed 16mm prints of silent and classic works. By the age of 11, animation had captured his imagination. Influenced by Disney's "Pinocchio" and "Fantasia," Bartel decided that he wanted to direct animated films. At age 13, he spent a summer working at New York's UPA animation studio.

While a student at UCLA, Bartel produced several animated shorts and documentaries. Upon graduation, he received a Fullbright scholarship to study film direction in Rome. One of the short theatrical films he produced while in Italy, "Progetti," was presented at the 1962 Venice Film Festival.

For a few years, Bartel directed military films and documentaries. While working as an assistant production manager at a New York firm, he wrote, shot and directed a few scenes which eventually grew into a theatrical short titled "The Secret Cinema." This and a follow-up short, "Naughty Nurse," were seen by Roger Corman's brother, Gene, who hired Bartel to direct a low-budget horror feature called "Private Parts" (1972). Poorly marketed, the film was largely ignored.

Roger Corman then hired Bartel as a second unit director on "Big Bad Mama" (1974). That film's success led to Bartel's next directing job, "Death Race 2000" (1975), a spoof of "Rollerball" (1975), wherein auto racing has become the national sport. He followed with the similar "Cannonball" (1976), a knock-off of road-race pictures (like "The Gumball Rally" 1976), that included cameos by such mainstream figures as Sylvester Stallone and Martin Scorsese and proved a box-office winner.

Bartel was unsuccessful in trying to persuade Corman to finance his pet project, "Eating Raoul" (1982), so the director shot a ten-minute teaser to seduce potential investors. The story, which satirized greed, decadence and superficial middle-class values, culminating in off-camera cannibalism, interested no one. Finally, Bartel's parents agreed to finance the film. Unable to find a distributor for the finished picture, Bartel entered it in Filmex, the Los Angeles Film Festival; "Eating Raoul" enjoyed a sensational response, prompting 20th Century-Fox to pick it up for distribution. It went on to become a cult classic and even spawned a stage musical adaptation.

Of his subsequent films, "Lust in the Dust" (1984) is the most important. A black comedy intended to satirize the Western, the film, which featured the unlikely teaming of Divine and Tab Hunter, was marred by an inconsistent tone that depleted its comic energy. "Scenes From the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills" (1989), was a modern, sexually explicit Restoration comedy that highlighted the cultural disparity between rich and poor in Beverly Hills. Its effectiveness as a bedroom farce was undermined by constant intercutting, which disturbed the spatial continuity on which the genre depends.

Although Bartel's works often shock, his courageous choices push back convention, challenging mainstream cinema's dependence upon formula. Should "Bland Ambition," his planned sequel to "Eating Raoul," ever be produced, it no doubt would be anything but a typical follow-up; nothing about Bartel is predictable.

While in years to come, Bartel may best be recalled for his directorial efforts, he has also frequently worked as an actor, albeit usually in smaller, yet memorable, roles. He debuted as an actor in Brian De Palma's "Hi, Mom!" (1970), playing Uncle Tom, and was seen as the director of a summer camp who has his nose bitten off in "Piranha" (1978). In Jonathan Demme's "Heart Like a Wheel" (1983), Bartel was a TV chef who interviews race car driver Shirley Muldowney (Bonnie Belinda) without any sense of who she is or what she does. He was the Grouch Cook in "Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird" (1985), the theater manager in "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" (1990) and the town mayor in "Posse" (1993). Bartel could also be seen as art connoisseur Henry Geldzahler in "Basquiat" and a congressman in "Escape From L.A." (both 1996).

Work on the small screen has been more sporadic, but Bartel did direct the 1980 TV-movie "The Hustler of Muscle Beach" (ABC) and wrote, directed and acted in two episodes of the NBC series "Amazing Stories." He has also made guest appearances on "Crime Story" , "L.A. Law" and the sitcom "Clueless" Bartel first acted in TV-movies in 1988 playing a minister in "Baja Oklahoma" (HBO), could be glimpsed in the 1995 miniseries "Naomi & Wynonna: Love Can Build a Bridge" (CBS) and was a doctor in the period piece "Louisa May Alcott's 'The Inheritance'" (CBS, 1997).



Director (Feature Film)

Shelf Life (1993)
Scenes From the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989)
The Longshot (1986)
Not For Publication (1984)
Lust In The Dust (1984)
Eating Raoul (1982)
Cannonball (1976)
Death Race 2000 (1975)
Blood Relations (1972)

Cast (Feature Film)

Michael Kohlhaas (2013)
Dinner and a Movie (2001)
Hamlet (2000)
Dreamers (2000)
Larry Parker
The Premonition (1999)
Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss (1998)
Skeletons (1997)
The Devil's Child (1997)
Dr Zimmerman
Louisa May Alcott's "The Inheritance" (1997)
Lewis & Clark & George (1997)
John Carpenter's Escape from L.A. (1996)
Joe's Apartment (1996)
Basquiat (1996)
Prey of the Jaguar (1996)
The Jerky Boys (1995)
Not Like Us (1995)
A Bucket of Blood (1995)
Love & Happiness (1995)
The Usual Suspects (1994)
The Wacky Adventures of Dr. Boris and Nurse Shirley (1994)
Dr Boris
Posse (1993)
Mayor Bigwood
Acting on Impulse (1993)
Grief (1993)
Shelf Life (1993)
Various Apparitions
Desire & Hell at Sunset Motel (1992)
Our Hollywood Education (1992)
The Living End (1992)
Twister Master
Soulmates (1992)
The Pope Must Diet (1991)
Liquid Dreams (1991)
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
Out of the Dark (1989)
Scenes From the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989)
Pucker Up and Bark Like a Dog (1989)
Caddyshack II (1988)
Baja Oklahoma (1988)
Shakedown (1988)
Mortuary Academy (1988)
Dr Paul Truscott
Munchies (1987)
Amazon Women On The Moon (1987)
Chopping Mall (1986)
Killer Party (1986)
Professor Zito
Into The Night (1985)
Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird (1985)
National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985)
Not For Publication (1984)
Tv Director
Get Crazy (1983)
Heart Like A Wheel (1983)
Eating Raoul (1982)
Paul Bland
Trick or Treats (1982)
White Dog (1982)
The Hustler of Muscle Beach (1980)
Rock 'N' Roll High School (1979)
Piranha (1978)
Roger Corman: Hollywood's Wild Angel (1978)
Grand Theft Auto (1977)
Mr. Billion (1977)
Cannonball (1976)
Eat My Dust! (1976)
Bruno Smith
Hollywood Boulevard (1976)

Writer (Feature Film)

Scenes From the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989)
From Story
Scenes From the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989)
Not For Publication (1984)
Eating Raoul (1982)
Cannonball (1976)

Producer (Feature Film)

Out of the Dark (1989)
Executive Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Not For Publication (1984)
Song ("You Bring Out The Beast In Me")
Cannonball (1976)
Song Performer
Cannonball (1976)

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Roger Corman: Hollywood's Wild Angel (1978)

Cast (Special)

Sex, Shock and Censorship in the 90's (1993)

Cast (Short)

Frankenweenie (1984)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

The Elevator (1999)
Armistead Maupin's More Tales of the City (1998)
Naomi & Wynonna: Love Can Build A Bridge (1995)
Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City (1994)
Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective (1990)

Life Events


Worked for the summer at the New York studio of UPA Cartoons


Directed the short "The Secret Cinema"


Played uncle Tom Wood in Brian DePalma's "Hi, Mom!"


Feature film directing debut, "Private Parts"


Wrote, produced and acted in "Cannonball"; selected to open Edinburgh Film Festival


First directed for small screen with TV-movie ""The Hustler of Muscle Beach" (ABC)


First film as producer, "Eating Raoul"; also co-wrote, acted in and directed


Garnered critical acclaim for writing and directing "Scenes From the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills"


Stage musical based on "Eating Raoul" produced


Directed "Shelf Life", adapted from the play by O-Lan Jones, Andrea Stein and Jim Turner


Co-starred in PBS miniseries "Armistead Maupin's 'Tales of the City'"


Had occasional role of a teacher on TV series version of "Clueless" (ABC)


Acted in the comedy "Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss"


Last film role as Osric in "Hamlet", directed by Michael Almereyda

Photo Collections

Death Race 2000 - Pressbook
Here is the campaign book (pressbook) for Roger Corman's Death Race 2000 (1975). Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.


Movie Clip

Eating Raoul (1982) -- (Movie Clip) Open, The Barrier Between Food And Sex Never to be mistaken for any other movie, co-writer, director and star Paul Bartel’s opening to Eating Raoul, 1982, though the title song is borrowed, a near-standard from 1930 by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields, performed by Jonathan Beres, with Bartel, Lynn Hobart, Richard Paul and the unfortunate Mark Woods in the first scene, the narration not credited.
Death Race 2000 -- (Movie Clip) Thomasina Rebel Leader Thomasina Payne (Harriet Medin) jams Grace Pander's (Joyce Jameson) broadcast to deliver an ultimatum in Death Race 2000, 1975.
Death Race 2000 -- (Movie Clip) Open The patriotic opening sequence from director Paul Bartel's Death Race 2000 features Bill Morey as The Deacon, exhorting the fans.
Death Race 2000 -- (Movie Clip) Meet Frankenstein Reporter Grace Pander (Joyce Jameson) introduces Frankenstein (David Carradine) as director Paul Bartel cameos and Mathilda and Herman (Roberta Collins and Fred Grandy) appear at the track in Death Race 2000, 1975.
Death Race 2000 -- (Movie Clip) Euthanasia Frankenstein (David Carradine) expresses his views on euthanasia and impresses commentators Junior (Don Steele) Grace (Joyce Jameson) and Harold (Carle Bensen) in Death Race 2000, 1975.
Death Race 2000 -- (Movie Clip) Calamity and Mathilda Calamity Jane (Mary Woronov) seeks revenge against Mathilda the Hun and Herman the German (Roberta Collins and Fred Grandy) only to be surprised by resistance tricksters in Death Race 2000, 1975.
Death Race 2000 -- (Movie Clip) Joe at Dinner Machine Gun Joe Viterbo (Sylvester Stallone) throws a fit at the drivers' dinner in Albuquerque in director Paul Bartel's Death Race 2000, 1975.



William Bartel
Survived him.
Wendy Bartel
Survived him.
Lucy Bartel
Survived him.
Peter Bartel
Survived him.