Larry McMurtry, the US screenwriter and novelist whose books The Last Picture Show and Terms of Endearment became Oscar-winning films, has died aged 84.
Born in Texas in 1936, the Lonesome Dove author won an Oscar himself for the adapted screenplay he co-wrote for 2005 western Brokeback Mountain.
His other novels include Horseman, Pass By – which became Paul Newman film Hud.
Renowned for his unromantic depictions of the American West, he also owned a number of celebrated used book stores.
McMurtry’s contribution to American literature was formally acknowledged when he received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama in 2015.
His death on Thursday was confirmed by Amanda Lundberg, a spokeswoman for the family.
McMurtry published Horseman, Pass By, his first novel, in 1961. He went on to write more than 30 more over the next 50 years.
He wrote roughly as many screenplays, including the Bafta-winning and Oscar-nominated one he based on his 1966 novel The Last Picture Show.
Lonesome Dove, his 1985 novel about Texas Rangers turned cattle herders in the 1870s, won a Pulitzer Prize and became an acclaimed TV miniseries.
Terms of Endearment, written in 1975, was also adapted for the screen, winning five Academy Awards including best picture in 1984.
James L Brooks, the film’s director, remembered him on Twitter as “among the best writers ever.”
Sitting here thinking of the greatness of Larry McMurtry.
Among the best writers ever. I remember when he sent me on my way to adapt “Terms” – his refusal to let me hold him in awe. And the fact that he was personally working the cash register of his rare book store as he did so.
— james l. brooks (@canyonjim) March 26, 2021
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Author and screenwriter Andy Greenwald tweeted: “Arguably the greatest American novelist of the 20th Century. Inarguably the writer who singlehandedly got me through the pandemic. A legend and a titanic loss.”
Columnist and author Mark Harris added: “Lonesome Dove is a beautiful example of how a writer can be maximalist – it’s an 800-page Western! -and also take exquisite care with character, observation, and word choice. A great American writer. RIP.”
Good Joe Bell, the final film McMurtry wrote with regular writing partner Diana Ossana, had its premiere at the 2020 Toronto Film Festival.
He is survived by his second wife Faye Kesey and singer-songwriter James McMurtry, his son from his first marriage.
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