Film and TV

Peter Bogdanovich, Oscar-nominated director of ‘Last Picture Show,’ dies at 82

Peter Bogdanovich, an Oscar-nominated filmmaker who was part of the vanguard of “New Hollywood” directors who helped reinvigorate American cinema in the 1960s and ′70s, gaining wide popularity with his films “The Last Picture Show,” “What’s Up, Doc?” and “Paper Moon” before suffering a string of personal and professional calamities, died Jan. 6 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 82.

His daughter Antonia Bogdanovich confirmed his death to the Associated Press but did not give a cause.

Like French directors such as Jean-Luc Godard, Éric Rohmer and François Truffaut, Bogdanovich started out as a film critic before going on to make movies. But he made that transformation in a distinctly American way, breaking into the industry as a protege of B-movie maestro Roger Corman, who also helped launch the careers of directors such as Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese.

Like those other directors, Bogdanovich helped bring a vibrant edge to Hollywood filmmaking, shaking up old studios that were increasingly viewed as out of touch with younger audiences and shifting cinematic tastes. But rather than bury the old Hollywood, he sought to revive it, positioning himself as an heir to vaunted directors such as John Ford, Howard Hawks and Orson Welles, whom he interviewed and befriended early in his career.

Bogdanovich directed about 20 feature films, writing or co-writing many of them himself - including “Targets” (1968), a taut thriller inspired by a mass shooting at the University of Texas tower. He was best known for “The Last Picture Show” (1971), a coming-of-age story about high school seniors in a windswept Texas town.

Shot in black and white and based on a novel by Larry McMurtry, with whom he co-wrote the screenplay, the film was funny, poignant and rapturously received. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including best picture, director and adapted screenplay, and won two, for supporting actors Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman.

Bogdanovich received further acclaim for his next two films: “What’s Up, Doc?” (1972), a wacky ode to Hawks’s screwball comedies, set in San Francisco and starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal; and “Paper Moon” (1973), a Depression-era road film featuring O’Neal and his real-life daughter, 10-year-old Tatum O’Neal, who became the youngest person to win a competitive Academy Award.

Yet Bogdanovich increasingly made headlines more for his personal life than his movies. His marriage to screenwriter and production designer Polly Platt, one of his closest collaborators, broke down when he started a much-publicized affair with one of the stars of “The Last Picture Show,” former model Cybill Shepherd. In 1980, his girlfriend Dorothy Stratten, an actress who had modeled for Playboy, was murdered by her estranged husband. Eight years later, Bogdanovich - then 49 - married Stratten’s 20-year-old sister Louise.

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