2021 ended with the unexpected death of filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallee, as well as the passing of Betty White, leaving TV and film fans distraught. Well, we’re not even a whole week into 2022, and there’s already the loss of another legend — filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich.
According to THR, Bogdanovich passed away early today at his home due to natural causes. In a career spanning 50 years, Bogdanovich became one of the most acclaimed filmmakers of his 1970s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls generation, and one of the most influential American filmmakers to ever work in Hollywood.
For those who aren’t familiar with his works, Bogdanovich got his start in the late-’60s after working as a film journalist for years before that. His first feature was 1968’s “Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women,” followed in the same year by “Targets.” However, he made his greatest splash with “The Last Picture Show,” which earned the filmmaker two Oscar nominations, one for Best Director and the other for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was nominated for eight Oscars total, including Best Picture.
After “The Last Picture Show,” Bogdanovich would go on to direct what is considered one of the great three-in-a-row classic trifectas of cinema, “What’s Up, Doc?” and “Paper Moon,” both of which were showered with critical plaudits, box office business, and Oscar acclaim. “Paper Moon” was nominated for four Oscars, and 10-year-old Tatum O’Neal won for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, making her the youngest Academy Award winner ever at the time.
Known as something of an arrogant wunderkind at the time, the successor to Orson Welles, who had become his friend and interlocutor, many of those conversations memorialized in several books and films, his career would soon fall off that hot streak. However, in retrospect, films like “Daisy Miller,” “Saint Jack,” and “They All Laughed,” none of which were box office hits, are all now generally considered underappreciated classics. Filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and Noah Baumbach— the latter two becoming late-in-the-game Bogdanovich proteges, friends, unofficial godsons, and producers—have all lauded and been inspired by these works.
With rocketing success and fame in the early days of his career came personal issues, and Bogdanovich’s life was not without many dramas. Many highly-publicized romantic relationships with various women and co-stars led to various unsavory stories over the year, including his relationship with producer/writer Polly Platt (much of that well-documented in the You Must Remember This podcast). Platt was often regarded as one of the silent creative partners behind his success but was uncredited, passed over, cheated on, and only received her due late in life.
Bogdanovich’s life was marked by a lot of tragedy too. His girlfriend Dorothy Stratten, a former model who began a romantic relationship with the filmmaker during the filming of 1981’s “They All Laughed,” was murdered by her estranged husband shortly after filming was completed. He took a four-year hiatus from filming, wrote a book about her, and claimed he and his career never recovered.
Bogdanovich ended his career with the 2014 film “She’s Funny That Way” and the 2018 doc, “The Great Buster: A Celebration,” which chronicled the life of the legendary Buster Keaton.