I was sorry to hear last week of the death of Bruce Jay Friedman, a writer whose name I only knew because of filmed versions of his work.

He wrote the short story Elaine May’s “The Heartbreak Kid” was based on, as well as the original draft of Ron Howard’s “Splash,” and the entire screenplay for Sidney Poitier’s smash, “Stir Crazy” (aided immensely by the comic presence of its two stars, Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder).

Friedman’s 1978 book, “The Lonely Guy’s Guide To Life,” was adapted for the screen in 1987 by “Taxi” creators Ed. Weinberger and Stan Daniels, with an assist from Neil Simon. It starred Steve Martin and Charles Grodin and, though it wasn’t the best effort by everyone involved, it wasn’t bad and doesn’t deserve to be forgotten.

The other project of Friedman’s that I recall fondly was his play “Steambath,” which ran off-Broadway for a few months in 1970 and then was produced for PBS in 1973. Jose Perez played God as the attendant in a steam bath that was a way station for people who had died, but hadn’t moved into the afterlife yet. That’s the version I saw, with a cast that included Bill Bixby, Herb Edelman, Art Metrano, Kenneth Mars, and Valerie Perrine.

It was the latter who piqued my teenage attention as — in addition to the towel-around-the-waist that everyone in the steam bath wore — she also had a towel casually draped around her neck and over her breasts. At one point, she took off the towel to take a shower, and Perrine (shown from the side) became the first actress to have her nipples shown on US network television. Because of that, and the religious satire at the heart of Friedman’s piece, only 24 PBS stations carried “Steambath.”

That’s too bad, because it was quite good — unlike the TV series version Friedman sold to Showtime a decade later. Jose Perez reprised his role as God, but Bixby, Perrine, and the rest were nowhere to be found. It was cancelled after a half-dozen episodes.