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'Lonesome Dove' author Larry McMurty has died aged 84

Author Larry McMurty has died aged 84. His books The Last Picture Show and Terms of Endearment were turned into Oscar winning films.

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McMurty won an Academy Award of his own when he co-wrote the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain, adapting E. Annie Proulx’s short story for the screen.

Remembered for his depictions of the American West, he also wrote the the Lonesome Dove series of novels, the first won the1986 Pulitzer Prize for Literature. The books were adapted for television.

Born in Texas in 1936, McMurty grew up on a ranch outside of Archer City. He later recalled that there were no books in his grandfather’s house, but family members used to sit on the porch and tell each other stories. In 1942 McMurty’s cousin Robert Hilburn stopped by the ranch on his way to enlist for World War II, he left the the young McMurty a box of 19 books – which he began to read, triggering his love of writing and storytelling.

McMurty’s first three novels were all set in the fictional town of Thalia, Texas in the aftermath of World War II. His first work Horseman, I Pass By was adapted for the screen as Hud and starred Paul Newman. His second book Leaving Cheyenne became the film Lovin’ Molly directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Blythe Danner, Beau Bridges and Anthony Perkins.

The third book is the series retained it’s name when it transferred to screen in 1971. The Last Picture Show was a box-office hit and critical success for director Peter Bogdanovich and starred Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybil Shepherd, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman. Ellen Burstyn and Randy Quaid. Most of the cast reunited 19 years later in 1990 to film the sequel Texasville, which was also written by McMurty.

Terms of Endearment was another book of McMurty’s that was successfully adapted for the screen. James L Brooks starred Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson and Debra Winger. MacLaine and Nicholson both won Academy Awards fore their performances. MacLaine and Nicholson later returned for the sequel Evening Star, which was also adapted from a novel by McMurty, but it was a box office failure.

Over his career McMurty authored over 30 novels alongside film and television projects, and many non-fiction works. Later his his career he regularly collaborated with Diana Ossana. In 1997 they adapted a recently published story by E. Annie Proulx. It took eight years for Brokeback Mountain to make it to cinema screens but when it did it was a resounding success, winning Ossana and McMurty the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

OIP Staff


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