American director and film historian Peter Bogdanovich died from natural causes on Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 82. His most well-known films include The Last Picture Show (1971), What’s Up, Doc? (1972) and Paper Moon (1973).
Born on July 30, 1939, Bogdanovich was equally reputed as a film historian and chronicler of classic Hollywood cinema. Before he turned director, he was a critic with Esquire magazine and a programmer at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He championed directors of the Golden Age of Hollywood, including Howard Hawks, John Ford and Orson Welles. Bogdanovich’s friendship with Welles resulted in the book This is Orson Welles in 1992.
Bogdanovich’s writings In Esquire landed him his first job as assistant director to the Hollywood legend Roger Corman. The Last Picture Show (1971), Bogdanovich’s breakthrough, was a coming-of-age movie starring Jeff Bridges, Ellyn Burstyn, Timothy Bottoms and Cybill Shepherd.
What’s Up, Doc? (1972), which was in the vein of the classic screwball comedy, was as highly praised as The Last Picture Show. In 1973, the filmmaker cast Ryan O’Neal and his nine-year-old daughter Tatum for the celebrated Depression-era comedy Paper Moon.
While his later films, including At Long Last Love (1975) and They All Laughed (1981), were less successful, Bogdanovich continued to write prolifically on American cinema. He lectured widely and provided valuable commentaries for DVDs.
He was also an actor, with parts in the television shows The Sopranos and Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2 (he played a DJ).
Bogdanovich’s publications include Pieces of Time, a collection of his essays in Esquire, a book about directors titled Who the Devil Made It: Conversations With… and Who the Hell’s in It: Conversations With Legendary Actors. Among his documentaries was Directed by John Ford. His final feature was She’s Funny That Way (2014), starring Jennifer Aniston, Imogen Poots and Owen Wilson.
Several filmmakers, critics and institutions paid tribute to Bogdanovich’s cinephilia and contributions to the recording of film history.