Peter Bogdanovich, the director who helped define the ‘New Hollywood’ movement of cinema in the 1970s, has died. He was 82.
Bogdanovich quickly became one of the most acclaimed and infamous directors of his generation, largely due to his iconoclastic nature and willingness to hit back against the entertainment industry that had initially praised him, and then quickly turned against him.
Bogdanovich’s initial forays were in journalism, where he wrote for publications like Esquire. Through his film reviews, Bogdanovich was able to befriend directors like Roger Corman and Orson Welles, who gave him his first experiences behind the camera.
Bogdanovich launched his own superstar career as a director with his debut feature film, 1971’s The Last Picture Show. The film landed Bogdanovich an Oscar nomination for Best Director, the only nomination of his career. Bogdanovich would start a relationship with one of the film’s actresses, Cybill Shepherd, with whom he would remain in a relationship with for most of the ’70s.
The director’s follow-ups, 1972’s What’s Up, Doc? and 1973’s Paper Moon, were both critical and financial successes. Bogdanovich paired up with Francis Ford Coppola and William Friedkin to form The Directors Company, a production division of Paramount Pictures that allowed all three directors creative freedom. However, Bogdanovich soon tired of the arrangement and dissolved the company, alienating some of his key supporters in Hollywood.
The following three films directed by Bogdanovich, 1974’s Daisy Miller, 1975’s At Long Last and 1976’s Nickelodeon, were dismissed critically and bombed at the box office. Having signed with Universal Studios after leaving Paramount, Bogdanovich sued the studio when they declined to make his intended biopic on gangster Bugsy Siegel. His string of failures and his difficult reputation caused his career to falter soon after.
In 1980, Bogdanovich’s companion Dorothy Stratton was murdered by her husband in a murder-suicide. In an article published to The Village Voice, writer Teresa Carpenter wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning account of Stratton’s demise that laid part the blame for Stratton’s death on Bogdanovich and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. Along with the failure of the film They All Laughed in 1981, Bogdanovich took a four year hiatus from directing and filled for bankruptcy in 1985.
Bogdanovich continued to direct throughout the ’80s and ’90s, fighting with studios all along the way. His most notable success was 1985’s Mask, but Bogdanovich continued to direct pictures that struggled at the box office and once again filed for bankruptcy in 1997. He directed his final film, She’s Funny That Way, in 2014.
Along the way, Bogdanovich also amassed a series of acting roles, including a 15 episode run as Dr. Elliot Kupferberg, the therapist for Tony Soprano‘s psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi. Bogdanovich also had cameos in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Kill Bill: Volume 2. One of his final contributions to cinema was in helping to finish his old friend Orson Welles’ film, The Other Side of the Wind, after 48 years in production.
In the modern-day, directors as diverse as David Fincher, Sofia Coppola, Rian Johnson, and Edgar Wright began to cite Bogdanovich as an influence. In 1998, The Last Picture Show was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.
Bogdanovich’s daughter has indicated that her father’s death was due to natural causes. He is survived by his daughters, Antonia and Sasha, as well as his grandchildren Maceo, Levi and Wyatt.