Movies | January 6, 2022 3:24 pm

Peter Bogdanovich, Director of “The Last Picture Show” and “Paper Moon,” Dead at 82

The director died Thursday of natural causes, according to his daughter

Peter Bogdanovich attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures "It Chapter Two" at Regency Village Theatre on August 26, 2019 in Westwood, California.
Peter Bogdanovich attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures "It Chapter Two" at Regency Village Theatre on August 26, 2019 in Westwood, California.

Peter Bogdanovich, the Academy Award-nominated writer-director of The Last Picture Show and style icon who was rarely seen without his signature ascot, has reportedly passed away at the age of 82. The director died of natural causes shortly after midnight on Thursday in his Los Angeles home, his daughter Antonia confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

The New Hollywood auteur is perhaps best known for his breakout film, 1971’s The Last Picture Show, which earned eight Oscar nominations — including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director. He followed up that coming-of-age drama with the screwball comedy What’s Up, Doc?, starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal, and he reunited with the latter and his daughter Tatum O’Neal for 1973’s Paper Moon. That performance earned the younger O’Neal, then just 10 years old, an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, making her the youngest person ever to win a competitive Academy Award.

At times, Bogdanovich’s personal life threatened to overshadow his excellent work. He became romantically entangled with his leading lady Cybill Shepard, something that led to his divorce from his wife Polly Platt and, he later admitted, caused his two films with Shepard — Daisy Miller (1974) and At Long Last Love (1975) — to flop.

“They were pissed off that I was having an affair with [Shepherd],” Bogdanovich said in a 2019 interview with Vulture. “I’ve seen pictures of us; I look like an arrogant, attractive guy, and she looks like a sexy girl. And we were rich and we were famous and we did movies together. Sometime in the mid-’70s, when we were getting terrible press, Cary Grant called me. He says, ‘Peter, will you for Christ’s sake stop telling people you’re happy? And stop telling them you’re in love.’ I said, ‘Why, Cary?’ ‘Because they’re not happy and they’re not in love.’ He was right.”

In 1980, he once again became tabloid fodder when Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten, with whom he’d been having an affair, was killed by her husband Paul Snider in a murder-suicide. Decades later, he would go on to condemn on-screen violence, saying, “Today, there’s a general numbing of the audience. There’s too much murder and killing. You make people insensitive by showing it all the time. The body count in pictures is huge. It numbs the audience into thinking it’s not so terrible. Back in the ’70s, I asked Orson Welles what he thought was happening to pictures and he said, ‘We’re brutalizing the audience. We’re going to end up like the Roman circus, live at the Colosseum.’ The respect for human life seems to be eroding.”

Bogdanovich is survived by his two daughters and his grandchildren Maceo, Levi and Wyatt.