William G. Borchert, the Emmy-nominated screenwriter behind the 1989 Hallmark Hall of Fame telefilm My Name Is Bill W., which starred James Woods and James Garner as the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, has died. He was 89.
Borchert died Saturday at his home in Stratford, Connecticut, his son Robert P. Borchert told The Hollywood Reporter.
Woods received an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or special for his turn as Bill Wilson — a stockbroker and World War I veteran who struggles to keep sober after he loses his fortune in the 1929 stock market collapse — in ABC’s My Name Is Bill W., directed by Daniel Petrie.
Wilson meets Robert Holbrook Smith (Garner), who is battling a drinking problem as well, and the pair launch a support group in 1935 that leads to Alcoholics Anonymous and its 12-step program to recovery.
Borchert, who also landed a Humanitas Prize nomination for his screenplay, wrote the 2005 book The Lois Wilson Story: When Love Is Not Enough, about Wilson’s wife, who co-founded Al-Anon, a support group for families of alcoholics, in 1951. He then adapted that for the screenplay to a 2010 CBS-Hallmark telefilm with that title.
(JoBeth Williams played Lois in My Name Is Bill W., while Winona Ryder portrayed her opposite Barry Pepper as Bill in the follow-up.)
Born in Brooklyn on Sept. 9, 1933, William George Borchert began his career with the New York Journal-American newspaper and would write for newspapers, magazines and radio programs.
He started the public relations firm Borchert-Barrett Associates in New York City in 1969 and three years later became a partner in Artist Entertainment Complex, producer of such films as Kansas City Bomber (1972), Serpico (1973) and Dog Day Afternoon (1975).
Borchert penned other books including When Two Loves Collide: The Inspiring Story of Dr. John and Dot Mooney, How I Became My Father … a Drunk and 50 Quiet Miracles That Changed Lives.
He also was a director of the Stepping Stones Foundation, which aims to foster a public understanding of alcoholism and inspire recovery.
Survivors include his nine children, Judith (and her husband, Thomas), Charlotte (James), William Jr. (Tricia), Lawrence (Rana), John (Sharon), Robert (Diane), Walter (Denise), Daniel (Elizabeth) and Angela; sister Marilyn; brother Rob; 25 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. His wife of 65 years, Bernadette, died in December 2020.
A wake will be held Friday at Abriola Parkview Funeral Home in Trumbull, Connecticut, and his funeral is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Stratford.
A donation in his memory can be made to Stepping Stones.