FAIRHOPE, Ala. (AP) – Winston Groom, the author whose novel “Forrest Gump” was made into a six-Oscar-winning 1994 film that became a rising pop cultural phenomenon, has died at the age of 77.
Mayor Karin Wilson of Fairhope, Alabama, said in a message on social media that Groom died in that south Alabama city. A local funeral home also confirmed the death and said arrangements were pending.
“While he will be remembered for making Forrest Gump, Winston Groom was a talented journalist and noted author of American history. Our hearts and prayers extend to his family,” the government of Alabama. Kay Ivey said in a statement.
“Forrest Gump” was a slow-moving, but mathematically improbable story of a gifted man who was a participant or witness to key points in 20th-century history – from Alabama’s secessionist village. George Wallace’s “Standing at the School’s Door,” in meetings with Presidents.
It was the best known book by Groom, which according to a biography posted by the university, grew up in Mobile Alabama in 1965 and graduated from the University of Alabama.
The university said that Groom served in the Army’s Fourth Infantry Division from 1965 to 1969. His service included a tour of Vietnam – one of the settings for “Forrest Gump”.
He wrote 16 books, fiction and nonfiction. One, “Negotiating with the Enemy,” was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, accused of collaborating with an American prisoner of war in Vietnam, according to the university.
It was “Forrest Gump” – and the film starring Sally Field and Gary Sinis in 1994 starring Tom Ganks and in the iconic role of Gump – that earned him widespread fame and some financial success.
The novel is quite different from the film. Don Noble, a professor at the University of Alabama, delivered the address in English, and Groom’s 40-year-old friend told The Tuscaloosa News that the novel was “darker” and “richer” than the film.
“You can make a lot of money as a comic writer, but you can’t get any respect,” Noble said. “But ‘Forrest Gump’ is actually quite a good novel. It’s more subtle and more complex … more rich than the film.”
The film, which also featured Robin Wright and Michaeli Williamson, became deeply ingrained in the American psyche and has remained a permanent television staple and huge cultural phenomenon ever since.
“It touched a nerve,” Groom told Tuscaloosa News in 2014.
The film dominated the 1995 Academy Awards, winning six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director for Robert Zemeckis and Best Actor for Hanks.
It was the 1994 No. 2 grosser at the box office, second only to “The Lion King”.
The basic contours of Gump’s life are the same as they are in the book: Gump has played football under Paul “Baird” Bryant at the University of Alabama, serving in Vietnam and starting a major shrimp business.
But the film made major departures. Gump was not a mathematician as he was in the book, and a more saintly soul. The film snatched up the shape of Gump – Groom said he envisioned playing the role of John Goodman – as well as his proficiency and most of his sex life.
He told the New York Times in 1994, “some bumpy edges were removed”.
Groom also wrote non-fiction on a variety of subjects, including Civil War, World War I, and Alabama’s Crimson Tide football.
In 2005, Groom released “1942: The Year That Triad Men’s Souls”, which chronicled the first year of America’s involvement in World War II.
In 2009 he released “Vicksburg 1863”, an account of the union eliciting the touch of a novelist. Grant, William T. Reached historical personalities such as Sherman and Jefferson Davis, who is the president of the union.
His most recent novel, El Paso, was published in 2016.
Groom received more than $ 350,000 for the rights to “Forest Gump” and 3 percent of the film’s net profit. But he got into a serious dispute with Paramount Pictures after they told him a film that grossed more than $ 600 million after the expense.
But years later he was not bitter.
“He did an outstanding job,” he told Tuscalcosa News. “I might have liked its version, but it would never open.”
The book became a major best-seller in the wake of the film, and Groom received a better deal for the follow-up novel, 1995’s “Gump and Company”.
“I am happy as a pig in the sun,” he told Mobile Register.
However, sequel-addicted Hollywood never made a new film.