The Oscar-nominated film-maker, known for The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon, has died of natural causes
Peter Bogdanovich in 2015. Photograph: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
The Guardian-Benjamin Lee
Peter Bogdanovich, Oscar-nominated writer and director, has died at the age of 82.
The film-maker, whose many credits included The Last Picture Show, What’s Up Doc? and Paper Moon, died of natural causes according to his daughter Antonia Bogdanovich.
Bogdanovich started his career as both a film programmer and a critic, writing articles for Esquire. After moving to Los Angeles and striking up a friendship with director Roger Corman, he secured his first directing gigs, making the sci-fi picture Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women, which he chose to have his name removed from, and in 1968 Targets, a breakout crime thriller. In this time he also became close friends with Orson Welles.
His next film was 1971’s The Last Picture Show, starring Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd and Cloris Leachman, a rapturously received drama that earned eight Oscar nominations and won two awards. It was also a surprise commercial hit, making $29m from a $1.3m budget. Upon its 50th anniversary, the Guardian’s Scott Tobias referred to it as an “elegiac masterpiece”.
“I was moved by the reviews,” he said to the New York Times in 1971. “The picture seems to have brought a melancholy poetry out of the critics by which I feel quite flattered. All the reviews were strangely personal. I suspect most of the critics are of an age to have grown up at the time of the movie.”
His next film was screwball comedy What’s Up Doc? starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal, a hit that became the third highest-grossing film of 1972. It was later included on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest comedies of all time.
The 70s also saw him reunite with O’Neal for Paper Moon, a comedy that saw the actor’s daughter Tatum O’Neal win an Oscar for best supporting actress. He turned down The Godfather, The Exorcist and Chinatown. “I was hot,” he admitted to Vulture in 2019.
His later films included Mask, starring Cher, and The Cat’s Meow, starring Kirsten Dunst. He also had a recurring acting role in The Sopranos and had a small role in both Kill Bill films after living in Quentin Tarantino’s guesthouse for a year.
In 2010, he joined the University of North Carolina School of the arts as part of the directing faculty and in 2014 made his last narrative film, the comedy She’s Funny That Way starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson. In 2018, he released his final film, the Buster Keaton documentary The Great Buster: A Celebration.
Tributes have started to emerge from the industry. Francis Ford Coppola released a statement to Deadline to say he was “devastated” at the news. “He was a wonderful and great artist,” he wrote. “I’ll never forgot attending a premiere for The Last Picture Show. I remember at its end, the audience leaped up all around me bursting into applause lasting easily 15 minutes. I’ll never forget although I felt I had never myself experienced a reaction like that, that Peter and his film deserved it. May he sleep in bliss for eternity, enjoying the thrill of our applause forever.”
On Instagram, Tatum O’Neal paid tribute with an emotional post. “Peter was my heaven & earth,” she wrote. “A father figure. A friend. From ‘Paper Moon’ to ‘Nickelodeon’ he always made me feel safe. I love you, Peter.”
Guillermo del Toro also tweeted: “He was a dear friend and a champion of Cinema. He birthed masterpieces as a director and was a most genial human. He single-handedly interviewed and enshrined the lives and work of more classic filmmakers than almost anyone else in his generation.”
Bogdanovich is survived by his two children Antonia and Sashy.