Partner Laurence Senelick

Queer Places:
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, Stati Uniti
Brandeis University, 415 South St, Waltham, MA 02453, Stati Uniti

Michael McEachern McDowell (June 1, 1950 – December 27, 1999) was an American novelist and screenwriter described by author Stephen King as "the finest writer of paperback originals in America today".[1] His most well-known work is the screenplay for the Tim Burton film Beetlejuice.

McDowell was born in 1950 in Enterprise, Alabama,[2] and graduated from T.R. Miller High in Brewton, Alabama. He received a B.A. and an M.A. from Harvard College, and a Ph.D in English from Brandeis University in 1978, based on a dissertation entitled "American Attitudes Toward Death, 1825–1865".[2]

McDowell lived in Medford, Massachusetts and maintained a residence in Hollywood with his sister Ann and the filmmaker Peter Lake. He also had one brother, James. McDowell's partner was theatre historian and director Laurence Senelick, whom he met in 1969 when McDowell was a cast member of the Senelick-directed play, Bartholomew Fair.[3] McDowell and Senelick remained together for thirty years until McDowell's death.

McDowell specialized in collecting death memorabilia. His extensive and diverse collection, which reportedly filled over seventy-six boxes, included items such as death pins, photographs and plaques from infant caskets. After his death, the collection was acquired by Chicago's Northwestern University, where it went on display in 2013.[4]

McDowell was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. After his diagnosis, McDowell taught screenwriting at Boston University and Tufts University while continuing to write commissioned screenplays. One of his final projects, upon which he was working at the time of his death, was a sequel to Beetlejuice. His final, unfinished novel Candles Burning was completed by novelist Tabitha King and published in 2006.

McDowell died on December 27, 1999 in Boston, Massachusetts from an AIDS-related illness.[5]


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/queerplaces/images/Michael_McDowell_(author)