Peter Bogdanovich, the ascot-wearing cinephile and director of ’70s black-and-white classics like The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon, has passed away. He was 82.
Bogdanovich died early Thursday morning at his Los Angeles home, his daughter, Antonia Bogdanovich said. She said he died of natural causes.
Considered part of a generation of young “New Hollywood” directors, Bogdanovich was heralded as an author from the beginning, with the chilling lone shooter film Targets and shortly after The Last Picture Show, from 1971. His evocative and melancholy portrayal of teenage anxiety and Loneliness in middle age in a small, dying town earned eight Oscar nominations, won two (for Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman), and catapulted him to stardom at age 32. He followed The Last Picture Show with the screwball comedy What’s Up, Doc?, starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal, and then the Depression-era road trip film Paper Moon, which starred 10-year-old Tatum O’Neal also a Oscar won.
His turbulent personal life was also often in the spotlight, from his well-known affair with Cybill Shepherd that began while making The Last Picture Show while married to his close associate, Polly Platt, to the murder of his Playmate girlfriend Dorothy Stratten. and his subsequent marriage to her younger sister, Louise, who was 29 years his junior.
The news of his death quickly received reactions.
Streisand wrote on Twitter: “Peter always made me laugh! He will continue to make them laugh there too.”
— Barbra Streisand (@BarbraStreisand) January 6, 2022
Francis Ford Coppola wrote in an email: “I will never forget attending a premiere for ‘The Last Picture Show’. I remember at the end the audience jumped all around me and burst into applause that easily lasted 15 minutes I will never forget, although I felt I had never experienced such a reaction myself, that Peter and his film deserved it. May he sleep forever in bliss, forever enjoying the thrill of our applause.”
Tatum O’Neal posted a photo of himself with him on Instagram, writing, “Peter was my heaven and earth. A father figure. A friend. From ‘Paper Moon’ to ‘Nickelodeon’ he always made me feel safe. you, Peter.”
And Martin Scorsese wrote in an email: “In the 1960s, at a pivotal moment in the history of the film industry and the art of cinema, Peter Bogdanovich found himself right at the intersection of the old Hollywood and the new. .. Peter’s debut ‘Targets’ is still one of his very best films, with ‘The Last Picture Show’ he made a film that seemed to look both backwards and forwards and was a phenomenal success… In the years that followed Peter had setbacks and tragedies, and he just kept going, constantly reinventing himself.”
Born in Kingston, New York, in 1939, Bogdanovich began his career as an actor, film journalist, and critic, working as a film programmer at the Museum of Modern Art, endearing himself to a host of old-guard filmmakers through a series of retrospectives and monographs, including Orson Welles, Howard Hawks and John Ford. He delighted them with knowledge of their films, took lessons for his own and saved their conversations for future books.
“I’ve gotten some very important one-sentence cues, like when Howard Hawks turned to me and said, ‘Always cut the movement and no one will notice the cut,'” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It was a very simple sentence, but it has had a profound impact on everything I’ve done.”
And Welles not only became one of Bogdanovich’s idols, but also became a close friend and occasional opponent. Though they were a generation apart, both experienced the peaks of early success and all the complications and jealousies that come with it. In 1992, the younger director published the book “This is Orson Welles”, based on conversations with the older director dating back to 1969. Bogdanovich was also instrumental in finishing and releasing Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind, which appeared in 1970 was started. , in 2018.
“To the very end, he fought for the art of cinema and the people who made it,” Scorsese wrote.
His own Hollywood education started early: his father took him to the movies of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton at the Museum of Modern Art at the age of 5. He would later make his own Keaton documentary, The Great Buster, which was released in 2018.
After marrying young, Bogdanovich and Platt moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1960s, attending Hollywood parties and befriending director Roger Corman and Frank Marshall, then just an aspiring producer, who helped get the movie Targets off the ground. to get. And the professional ascent continued for the next few movies and years. But after Paper Moon, which Platt collaborated on after their breakup, he would never again garner the accolades of those first five years in Hollywood.
Bogdanovich’s relationship with Shepherd led to the end of his marriage with Platt, with whom he shared daughters Antonia and Sashy, and a fruitful creative partnership. The 1984 film Irreconcilable Differences was loosely based on the scandal. He later disputed the idea that Platt, who died in 2011, was integral to the success of his early films.
He would make two other films with Shepherd, an adaptation of Henry James’ Daisy Miller and the musical At Long Last Love, neither of which were particularly well received by critics or audiences.
And at the height of his successes, he also passed on great opportunities. He told Vulture that he had rejected The Godfather, Chinatown, and The Exorcist.
“Paramount called and said, ‘We just bought a new Mario Puzo book called The Godfather. We’d like you to consider directing it.’ I said, ‘I’m not interested in the mafia,'” he said in the interview.
Headlines would continue to follow Bogdanovich for things other than his movies. He began an affair with Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten while directing her in They All Laughed, a romantic comedy starring Audrey Hepburn and Ben Gazzara, in the spring and summer of 1980. Her husband, Paul Snider, killed her in August. Bogdanovich, in a 1984 book titled The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten, 1960-1980, criticized Hugh Hefner’s Playboy empire for its alleged role in events he said ended in Stratten’s death. Nine years later, at age 49, he married her younger sister, Louise Stratten, who was just 20 at the time. They divorced in 2001, but continued to live with her mother in Los Angeles.
In the 2020 interview with the AP, Bogdanovich acknowledged that his relationships had an impact on his career.
“My personal life got in the way of people understanding movies,” Bogdanovich said. “That’s something that has plagued me since the first few pictures.”
Despite some flops, Bogdanovich’s production remained prolific through the 1980s and 1990s, including a sequel to The Last Picture Show called Texasville, the romantic country music drama The Thing Called Love, one of River Phoenix’s last films, and in 2001, The Cat’s Meow, about a party on William Randolph Hearst’s yacht starring Kirsten Dunst as Marion Davies. His last narrative film, She’s Funny that Way, a screwball comedy starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston that he co-wrote with Louise Stratten, debuted in 2014 to mixed reviews.
Over the years, he has written several books about movies, including “Peter Bogdanovich’s Movie of the Week,” “Who the Devil Made It: Conversations with Legendary Film Directors,” and “Who the Hell’s in It: Conversations with Hollywood’s Legendary Actors.” .
He also acted semi-frequently, sometimes playing himself (in Moonlighting and How I Met Your Mother) and sometimes other people, such as Dr. Elliot Kupferberg on The Sopranos, and also inspired a new generation of filmmakers, from Wes Anderson to Noah Baumbach.
“They call me Pop and I allow it,” he told Vulture.
At the time of the AP interview in 2020, which coincided with a podcast about his career with Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz, he was working hard on a Dorothy Stratten-inspired television show and was not optimistic about the future of cinema.
“I’ll just keep going, you know. The television is not dead yet,” he said with a laugh. “But movies can have a problem.”
But even with his Hollywood-sized ego, Bogdanovich remained reverent to those who came before it.
“I don’t judge myself by my contemporaries,” he told The New York Times in 1971. “I judge myself against the directors I admire – Hawks, Lubitsch, Buster Keaton, Welles, Ford, Renoir, Hitchcock. I certainly don’t think I’m anywhere near as good as them, but I think I’m pretty good .”