Larry McMurtry Dead: novelist and Oscar winner for ‘Brokeback Mountain’ was 84 years old

The Pulitzer Prize winner and screenwriter also wrote the books behind ‘Hud’, ‘The Last Picture Show’ and ‘Terms of Endearment’.

Larry McMurtry, the Texas-born novelist who wrote Lonely pigeon, The ultimate picture show and Conditions of affection and won an Oscar for co-writing the screenplay adapted for Secret in the mountain, has died. He was 84 years old.

McMurtry died Thursday night of heart failure, his representative Amanda Lundberg said. The Hollywood Reporter. He died surrounded by loved ones he lived with, including his writing partner, Diana Ossana; his wife, Norma Faye; and his three dogs.

His son, singer-songwriter James McMurtry, his grandson Curtis and his goddaughter Sara were also at his bedside.

McMurtry was the author of 29 novels, including the Pulitzer Prize winner Lonely pigeon, three memoirs, two collections of essays and more than 30 scripts. He wrote five pages a day, no more, no less, on a manual typewriter.

His first published novel, 1961 Rider, pass by, set in the cattle country of Texas, was made into the 1963 Paramount drama Hud, starring Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal. The rights to the film were acquired by Newman and Salem Productions from director Martin Ritt “almost before the last period. [was] “put in the book,” said the author. (Husband and wife team Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. adapted their work and shared an Oscar nomination.)

McMurtry received his first Oscar nomination (shared with director Peter Bogdanovich) for adapting his 1966 semi-autobiographical book for The Ultimate Picture Show. The poignant 1971 film, about teens learning about sex, love and loss in the dusty town of Thalia, Texas, starred Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Cloris Leachman and Ben Johnson (the latter two won awards from the LA Academy as a supporting actor).

His 1975 novel Conditions of affection, set not in the middle of the tumbleweeds of Texas, but in the great city of Houston, was adapted by writer, director and producer James L. Brooks and won five Oscars in 1984 – two for Brooks, including Best Picture , and one for each. Jack Nicholson and Shirley MacLaine.

For Secret in the mountain (2005), McMurtry and his collaborator Ossana transformed an 11-page short story by Annie Proulx that was published in The New Yorker in 1997 in the revolutionary cowboy love story starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal and directed by Oscar winner Ang Lee.

For all his accomplishments, McMurtry probably identifies best with Lonely pigeon, released in 1985. The subsequent four-part miniseries, starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones and featuring a television play by William D. Wittliff, won seven Emmy Awards and was a ratings hit for CBS in 1989, attracting an average of 26 million viewers. one night.

“People always tell me that I have a lot to do with [the miniseries]”McMurtry told NPR’s Linda Wertheimer in 2009.” The people who had everything to do with this are the producers, the writers, the set designers, all the people who really worked on it. I was never on set. I turned the key in the ignition. I didn’t drive the car. “

He followed Lonely pigeon with the 1993 sequel Streets of Laredo (which became a 1995 CBS miniseries based on James Garner and Sissy Spacey) and the 1995 and 1997 prequels Dead man’s walk (a 1996 ABC miniseries with F. Murray Abraham) and Comanche Moon (a 2008 CBS miniseries starring Steve Zahn).

When asked by Wertheimer why his novels were so successful in Hollywood, McMurtry replied, “I can write characters that the main actors want to play, and that’s how movies are made.

“It’s practical. People want to play my characters, important actors that you can get money for, from a bank. You have to finance it, and no one has found a better way to finance it than the star system.”

Larry Jeff McMurtry was born on June 3, 1936, in Wichita Falls, Texas, and grew up on a ranch in nearby Archer City. He graduated from North Texas State College in Denton in 1958 and earned his master’s degree from Rice University in Houston in 1960.

While writing Rider, pass by and The Ultimate Picture Show – It took him only three weeks to complete, he said – he was teaching English at Texas Christian University from 1961-62 and at Rice from 1963-69.

In his book review of The Ultimate Picture Show, The New York Times he described Thalia de McMurty as “parched and in poor physical condition, petty and petty spiritually.” [The author] he is an expert in anatomizing its suffocating and dead-end character. Although the town looks out onto the open meadow, it has no horizons and is as sad as a movie theater open 24 hours at 10 in the morning. It is a place where a man can live his entire life and end up feeling anonymous. “

McMurtry, however, proved that he could feel at home in the big city, setting the scene for the 1970s. Forward, 1972 All my friends are going to be strangers and Conditions of affection in contemporary Houston, which he once called “more or less my Paris, or the Paris I had.”

Placed 1978 Someone is dear in Hollywood, 1982 Cadillac Jack in Washington, DC and 1983 The desert rose In Las Vegas.

McMurtry also wrote an original script for another feature film, Falling from grace (1992), starring John Cougar Mellencamp, who also directed, and Mariel Hemingway. (Mellencamp produced his son’s first studio album, 1989 Too long in the Wasteland.)

McMurty met Ossana, who had written and worked as a paralegal, in 1985, and she invited him to recover at her home in Tucson, Arizona, after he had a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery in 1991. She helped to edit Streets of Laredo, which he dedicated to her and her daughter Sara.

McMurtry got up very early to write every day, usually finishing his five pages at 8:30 a.m. M. “They come pretty skinny,” Ossama pointed out, “and then I fill them in and then I expand them. And we do it every day, seven days a week, during the holidays and whatever.”

His second project was a script for a movie about gangsters. Pretty boy floyd which they sold to Warner Bros. and expanded into a book published in 1994.

The couple took Proulx’s New Yorker history and “developed it along clearly suggested lines,” McMurtry said. “I mean, we put in domestic life. We put the kind of side story of women in their lives and we show them how complicated this tragedy was.”

His most recent collaboration was a script for Good joe bell, a 2020 film about a real-life Oregon father (played by Mark Wahlberg) who takes a walk through America with his son.

McMurtry’s novels also included those of 1963. Leaving Cheyenne, filmed as the Sidney Lumet drama Lovin ‘molly (1974); From 1987 Texasville, which became the 1990 sequel to The Latest Picture Show; From the nineties Buffalo girls, made into a 1995 miniseries starring Anjelica Huston and Melanie Griffith; and 1992 The evening star, the Conditions of affection follow-up that hit theaters in 1996.

Years later The Ultimate Picture Show was filmed in Archer City, McMurty bought stores in the city to build a rustic book-selling empire. He also owned bookstores in Washington, Houston, and Tucson. President Obama awarded him the National Humanities Medal in 2015.

McMurtry married Faye Kesey, the widow of writer Ken Kesey (one flew over the cuckoo’s nest), in 2011. Survivors also include her siblings Sue, Judy, and Charlie. He will be buried in his beloved home state of Texas.

Jackie Strause contributed to this report.

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