SAN BERNARDINO - The screenwriter of "Grosse Pointe Blank" died Wednesday following an appearance at Cal State San Bernardino.

Upland resident Thomas Anthony Jankiewicz, 49, was pronounced dead at 10:51 p.m. at San Bernardino Community Hospital, where he had been taken after collapsing at CSUSB.

Jankiewicz wrote the 1997 John Cusack film "Grosse Pointe Blank," which tells the story of a professional assassin returning to the town where he graduated up on the same weekend his 10-year high school reunion is taking place.

"He walked two miles a day. My brothers and I would go on evening walks and discuss story ideas," his brother Pat Jankiewicz said Thursday. "To say it was a shock was an understatement."

He had screened the film for about 75 students in a Psychology and the Movies class and collapsed during a question and answer session afterward.

"He loved to write and he loved to share the joy of writing; that's what he was sharing with the students last night," Pat Jankiewicz said.

Prof. James C. Kaufman had only reached out to Jankiewicz for the first time earlier in the day, after he'd already arranged to screen the movie for students that night.

"I realized he was local and called him up out of the blue," Kaufman said Thursday. "He was incredibly gracious and said he would swing by. His brothers were alumni."

Although Jankiewicz is best-known for "Grosse Pointe Blank," which his brother said was near and dear to his heart, he stayed busy improving other screenwriters' scripts, writing magazine articles and writing advertisements.


Advertisement

At the time of his death, he was close to finishing a new film script and a book.

"He had a lot of irons in the fire, he was very happy," Pat Jankiewicz said.

At this time, the San Bernardino County Coroners Office is viewing Jankiewicz's death as due to natural causes, but no official determination has been made, according to department officials.

"One of the things he kept talking about was that, if you want to create something, now is the time to do it yourself," Kaufman said. "It was such an amazing message. He was just encouraging, vibrantly creative person. It's just an unbelievable tragedy."

beau.yarbrough@inlandnewspapers.com 909-483-9376, @InlandEd