Writer Larry McMurtry, whose Western-focused work expanded from his novels to screens both big and small, has died at age 84.
His death was confirmed by his representative and McMurtry leaves behind a massive legacy of the written word. Not only did he write dozens of novels set in his native Texas (one of which, Lonesome Dove won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction), he wrote essays and nonfiction books—some of which dealt with his dealings with Hollywood. That’s to be expected, as McMurtry’s prose was adapted time and time again—first by others, with 1963’s Hud, the first film to be made from his writing (his first novel, in fact, Horseman, Pass By), then by McMurtry himself.
McMurtry helped bring 1971’s The Last Picture Show to the screen, earning his first Oscar nomination alongside co-writer/director Peter Bogdanovich. While McMurtry didn’t adapt many of his other stories that hit the screen (like Lovin’ Molly, the Oscar-winning Terms of Endearment, Texasville, The Evening Star or the Emmy-winning Lonesome Dove miniseries), he started writing for TV and for films like John Mellencamp’s directorial debut Falling from Grace.
This work culminated in a 2005 Oscar win for the Brokeback Mountain screenplay, which he adapted from an Annie Proulx story with collaborator Diana Ossana.
Their final screen project together will be Good Joe Bell, about a heartbroken father going on a cross-country journey to raise awareness about bullying. The film premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival and does not yet have a release date.
McMurtry is survived by his wife Faye and son James.