An Oscar-nominated filmmaker whose passion for cinema extended far outside his own work has died. Peter Bogdanovich was 82.
Born in Kingston, New York in 1939, Bogdanovich’s love of movies began early, long before he was making them himself. At 12, he started keeping a card file of his film critic opinions, writing about everything he watched. Though he initially took aim at acting, studying with Stella Adler, and appearing in a minor role at the 1975 New York Shakespeare Festival’s production of Othello, he soon switched his focus to directing.
Bogdanovich’s early directorial career was in the theatre, where he oversaw and starred in an off-Broadway production of The Big Knife. Raising the money to stage the play, he won healthy reviews and the job led him to become artistic director of the Phoenicia Playhouse in the Catskills.
Along with his theatrical work, he wrote film criticism and features for Esquire, and, once he moved to Hollywood, his work got him noticed by the likes of Roger Corman, who had him re-write biker film The Wild Angels. Bogdanovich ended up directing the finale of the movie too, and the production ended up as Corman’s most successful film to that point. Two years later, Corman provided the backing for Bogdanovich’s first film, Targets, about a sniper who takes aim at a drive-in film crowd.
But it was his second film, an adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s novel The Last Picture Show that really saw Bogdanovich establish himself. The film, a monochrome drama set in a Texas down earned eight Academy Award nominations, including directing and adapted screenplay nods for the writer-director. It also introduced Bogdanovich more controversially, to one of his great loves, Cybil Shepherd.
Other films from Bogdanovich included Daisy Miller and At Long Last Love, both with Shepherd, plus the likes of What’s Up Doc?, Paper Moon (which saw Tatum O’Neal win a best supporting actress Oscar), They All Laughed, Nickelodeon, Saint Jack, Mask and Picture Show sequel Texasville. His most recent work as a writer and director was 2014’s She’s Funny That Way, though he continued to show up as an actor throughout his career, and in many other movies including 2019’s It Chapter Two. He also never let go of his passion for writing and talking about movies as a whole, publishing books of interviews with fellow filmmakers, and even creating a one-man stage show, Sacred Monsters, featuring anecdotes from his career.
He’s survived by his daughters, Antonia and Sashy.