Mazursky got his start in Hollywood as an actor, with numerous guest appearances in television shows and films of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, most notable of which was an appearance as a difficult youth in the 1955 film, Blackboard Jungle. Soon Mazursky moved behind the camera as well, first becoming a writer (he wrote the pilot for the pilot episode of The Monkees) then eventually a writer/director.
Starting with his first, full-length feature, 1969’s Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Mazursky became known for making dramatic comedies that commented on social issues of the day. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alicewas a commentary on the free-love movement of the ’60s, 1978’s An Unmarried Woman touched on the repercussions of that movement, and the burgeoning woman’s rights movement in the 1970’s, and 1986’s Down & Out in Beverly Hills covered the class issues raised in the “Greed is Good” philosophy that ruled the ’80s.
Mazursky was nominated for five Oscars, four for his writing (Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Harry & Tonto, An Unmarried Woman and Enemies, A Love Story) and once as a producer (An Unmarried Woman).
1993’s The Pickle was Mazursky’s last feature as a writer/director, although he would direct Faithful three years later. He would continue acting, garnering recurring roles on The Sopranos, Once and Again, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.