Paul Bartel is perhaps best known as the director and star of the quirky sleeper Eating Raoul (1982). Born in New York City, Bartel was a film aficionado since childhood and entered the industry at age 13 working as an assistant animator for UPA. He later studied film at UCLA and while there, made several short animated films and documentaries; for his work as a student actor and playwright, Bartel won several awards. Later he studied at Rome's prestigious Centro Sperimental di Cinematografica on a Fulbright Scholarship; there his graduation film, Progetti, was shown at the Venice Film Festival. Soon after coming back to the U.S., Bartel began working as an assistant director for military films; he then went on to make films for the U.S. government. As a feature filmmaker, Bartel is consistently drawn to the darkly funny, more perverse aspects of life. His provocative directorial debut was Private Parts (1972) which centered on a runaway teenage girl who encounters several residents involved with bizarre sexual practices in her aunt's ramshackle San Francisco hotel. Though it was a box office flop, the film earned Bartel decent notice from critics. He next involved himself with B-movie king Roger Corman and worked for him as both an actor and a second unit photographer. In 1974, he again tried directing with Big Bad Mama. He directed one more film before coming up with the screenplay for Eating Raoul. Directed by and starring Bartel, it is the ghastly but hilarious tale of an average couple who comes up with an unusual scam for making money involving sex for sale and a very large frying pan. Bartel was unable to find a distributor for the film until he entered it in the Los Angeles Film Festival where it generated such acclaim that 20th Century-Fox obtained the distribution rights. The film has since become a cult favorite. After the success of Raoul, Bartel continued directing a variety of films through the 1980s. Notable efforts from this time period include his wild satire of westerns Lust in the Dust (1985) and Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989). In the early '90s, he directed Shelf Life and then began focusing on his acting career and appearing in such films as The Jerky Boys (1994) and Basquiat (1996). He died of a heart attack, following surgery for liver cancer, on May 13, 2000.