Hollywood screenwriter and Philadelphia native Michael Goldberg, 55, best known for cowriting the Jamaican bobsled film Cool Runnings, died Thursday, Oct. 2, in Studio City, Calif., after a multiyear struggle with brain and sinus cancer, his family said.
Mr. Goldberg's writing credits included Should've Been Romeo, with his college roommate Paul Ben-Victor; Little Giants, starring Rick Moranis; Bushwhacked, with Daniel Stern; Snow Dogs, with Cuba Gooding Jr.; and The Lovemaster, with comedian Craig Shoemaker, which Mr. Goldberg also directed.
Born May 8, 1959, Mr. Goldberg grew up in the Northeast, on 6625 Eastwood St., the youngest of three siblings. He played Little League baseball at the Max Myers Playground.
"None of us had any money, but we had humor, and he liked to do impressions of local neighborhood folks," said actor Robert Fallan, who graduated from Northeast High School with Mr. Goldberg.
"He followed his dream and became a successful writer," said childhood friend Brett Warren of Abington. "We were all very proud to be a part of his entourage."
After earning a bachelor of fine arts degree from Carnegie Mellon and a master's degree from the University of Michigan, Mr. Goldberg moved to Hollywood in the late 1980s.
"We came from a middle-class neighborhood and he grew up to have a truly successful career," said his brother Mark. For the last eight years, Mr. Goldberg's health required that he live in an assisted-living facility near his former wife, Karen Ray, and daughter, Kayla Ray Goldberg, 18.
"Michael had a close group of friends back in Philadelphia called 'Boys East,' as well as a Philly group out here in Hollywood we called 'Boys West' that hung out together," Ben-Victor said.
Mr. Goldberg's last appearance will be in Laughter Heals, a documentary by Shoemaker that follows seven ill people and the healing power of humor in their treatment. It is being produced by Nancy Glass, a Philadelphia television personality.
"He loved to laugh even amid awful hospital conditions," Shoemaker said. "The film follows people in how to find laughter in the healing process. That helped Michael stay alive."
In 1993, Mr. Goldberg became an A-list screenwriter with the film Cool Runnings, the Disney studio comedy inspired by the Jamaican bobsled team that competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Mr. Goldberg teamed with playwright/poet Tommy Swerdlow for the picture and upon its release flew back to Philadelphia to rent out a screen at the Regal Huntingdon Valley theater and throw his own premiere.
"My high school drama teacher was there, as well as friends of mine from grade school and everybody who'd been wondering what I'd been doing for the past 10 years. This was a way for me to get back in touch and say thanks," he told The Inquirer in 1993.
Besides his daughter and former wife, Mr. Goldberg's survivors include his mother, Dorothy "Dot" Lean; his father and stepmother, George and Gail Goldberg; brother Mark; and sister Randi.
He will be laid to rest in his Eagles jersey, Phillies baseball cap, Flyers socks, and 76ers wristband, according to his brother. The funeral will take place at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 6, at Joseph Levine & Sons funeral home in Trevose.
A Los Angeles memorial will take place at a later date. Donations in Mr. Goldberg's memory can be made to the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, Duke University Medical Center, DUMC Box 3624, Durham, NC 27710.