Peter Bogdanovich, Oscar-Nominated Director of 'The' 'Last Picture Show', Dead at 82

Peter Bogdanovich directed movies like Paper Moon and Mask; he once controversially married the younger sister of his late girlfriend Dorothy Stratten, who was murdered by her estranged husband in 1980

Peter Bogdanovich
Photo: Robin L Marshall/Getty

Peter Bogdanovich, the writer/director of classic films like 1971's The Last Picture Show and 1973's Paper Moon, has died at age 82, multiple outlets report.

His daughter Antonia confirmed the news to The New York Times and The Hollywood Reporter, saying the filmmaker died of natural causes at his Los Angeles home early Thursday morning. Bogdanovich is also survived by daughter Sashy. He shared both children with ex-wife Polly Platt (who died in 2011 at age 72), plus grandchildren Maceo, Levi and Wyatt, according to the outlet.

Bogdanovich received high praise and acclaim for The Last Picture Show, including Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The coming-of-age movie helped springboard the careers of stars like Jeff Bridges, Ellen Burstyn and Cybill Shepherd.

Along with Ryan and Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon, Bogdanovich directed stars like Cher, Sam Elliott and Laura Dern in 1985's Mask, plus Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson in 2014's She's Funny That Way.

Tatum, now 58, won an Oscar at 10 years old for Paper Moon. She remembered the director on Instagram Thursday, writing, "Peter was my heaven & earth. A father figure. A friend. From Paper Moon to Nickelodeon he always made me feel safe. I love you, Peter."

Fellow filmmaker Guillermo del Toro tweeted that Bogdanovich "became a close friend" of his "and was active and brilliant to the end." Del Toro added that he was "working on a beautiful screenplay and to talk about the craft and ideas for it was delightful."

Bogdanovich had a turbulent personal life as well. He left Platt to move in with Shepherd after casting the model in The Last Picture Show, her star-making project. By 1978, Shepherd and Bogdanovich broke up. He later met one-time Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten in 1978 and cast her in his 1981 film They All Laughed. She moved in with him in summer 1980.

Peter Bogdanovich
Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty

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On Aug. 14, 1980, Stratten was killed by her estranged husband, photographer Paul Snider, in a murder-suicide. In his memoir The Killing of the Unicorn, Bogdanovich wrote about learning the news: "I screamed. On the floor I curled into a ball."

He remained close to Stratten's family and later married her younger sister Louise in December 1988 when she was 20 (she had been 12 when Stratten was murdered). Louise made her film debut in Bogdanovich's Illegally Yours (1988). They later got divorced in 2001.

Bogdanovich told New York magazine in March 2019 about the lingering effects Stratten's murder had on him. He said, "You don't get over a thing like that, you know. I got a bad case of PTSD."

Speaking with the Los Angeles Times back in 2015, Bogdanovich mused about modern cinema, saying, "Movies used to be something powerful. It's been a bit ruined now. I don't know if we can get it back — I think we can. But it's lost its innocence. The interesting stuff has moved to TV, and movies have become more like, 'What can I blow up next?' There's a terrible cancer at the heart of that."

"My mother used to say to me," he added, " 'If you have a thousand people watching your movie and one of them understands what you're trying to do, you're lucky.' That sounds almost pretentious, but I know what she meant."

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