Mike Gray Dies: Activist, ‘The China Syndrome’ Writer Dead At 77

Mike Gray, a writer and activist famous for co-writing The China Syndrome, has died in his Los Angeles home at 77.

Gray was a screenwriter and author with a keen interest in nuclear power. In 1970 he co-wrote the Syndrome story after researching nuclear power and interviewing several scientists about its risks.

The story became a film starring Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda, and Michael Douglas. Directed by James Bridges, the movie had a greater cultural impact as it examined ideas of corporate responsibility and the role of broadcast media in society in the complicated effort to report on a nuclear disaster.

The China Syndrome won the 1980 Writers Guild of America Award and was nominated for four Academy Awards, including best original screenplay, best actor (Lemmon), and best actress (Fonda).

Mike Gray’s story had unusual timing. Less than two weeks after the movie opened, the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania had a partial meltdown, an incident that shook the nation and brought home the dangerous risks associated with nuclear power.

Gray would go on to write another book about Three Mile Island, titled The Warning. He was also known as an activist about the war on drugs, writing about the topic in the book Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess and How We Can Get Out in 1998 and then again in 2004 with Busted.

He would do more work in movies, writing and directing the independent science-fiction film Wavelength, which starred Robert Carradine, Cherie Currie, and Keenan Wynn.

Gray was also known for his work in television, developing the 1986-87 series Starman and serving as a producer and writer for a season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Some of Gray’s family followed him into show business. His son, Lucas, is a storyboard artist for The Simpsons.

Mike Gray died in his sleep in the home in Los Angeles he shared with his wife, Carol, a public radio reporter.

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