Donald E. Stewart was an American-born screenwriter, most well-known for his screenplay for Missing, which won the Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay, the Writers Guild of America Award, the London Film Critics' Circle award, a Christopher Award, and the BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay, all shared with the film's director, Costa-Gavras. The screenplay for Missing is used in film schools for instruction in structure and development. He also wrote or co-wrote the screenplays for the Tom Clancy-trilogy of Jack Ryan films The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger.
In his Oscar acceptance speech for Missing, Stewart not only thanked the film's director but he also thanked Charles Horman, the American journalist whose disappearance was the centerpiece of the film. When interviewed about what impact the foreign policy issues raised by Missing had on audiences, Stewart commented: "Movies have a tendency to really heat up the emotions."
Born in Detroit, Michigan, he had an early passion for cars. He began his writing career as a journalist for The Detroit Times. In his 20's, he founded and co-published Competition Press, a weekly magazine devoted to car-racing that eventually became Autoweek; he also briefly edited Motor Life magazine. In 1960 he left reporting and moved to New York for the advertising industry, becoming copywriter and creative executive for a series of agencies such as J. Walter Thompson, Young & Rubicam and BBD & O. Not surprisingly, he specialised in advertising copy for the motor trade, an area of booming competition in the car-obsessed economy of Sixties America. He became creative director of the Fletcher-Richards Agency and an expert on all things automobile. He moved to Hollywood in his 40's to try his hand at screenwriting; his first film was Roger Corman's Jackson County Jail and his last was Dead Silence, a TV-movie starring James Garner. He died in his home in Los Angeles of cancer in 1999, at the age of 69.