The son of immigrants fleeing the Nazis--his father was a Serbian painter and pianist and his mother was descended from a rich Jewish Austrian family--Peter Bogdanovich was conceived in Europe but born in America. He originally was an actor in the 1950s, studying his craft with legendary acting teacher Stella Adler and appearing on television and in summer stock. In the early 1960s he achieved notoriety for programming movies at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. An obsessive cinema-goer, sometimes seeing up to 400 movies a year in his youth, Bogdanovich prominently showcased the work of American directors such as John Ford, about whom he subsequently wrote a book based on the notes he had produced for the MOMA retrospective of the director, and the then-underappreciated Howard Hawks. Bogdanovich also brought attention to such forgotten pioneers of American cinema as Allan Dwan.
Bogdanovich was influenced by the French critics of the 1950s who wrote for Cahiers du Cinema, especially critic-turned-director François Truffaut. Before becoming a director himself, he built his reputation as a film writer with articles in Esquire Magazine. In 1968, following the example of Cahiers du Cinema critics Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer who had created the Nouvelle Vague ("New Wave") by making their own films, Bogdanovich became a director. Working for low-budget schlock-meister Roger Corman, Bogdanovich directed the critically praised Targets (1968) and the not-so-critically praised Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968), a film best forgotten.
Turning back to journalism, Bogdanovich struck up a lifelong friendship with the legendary Orson Welles while interviewing him on the set of Mike Nichols' film adaptation of Catch-22 (1970) from the novel by Joseph Heller. Subsequently, Bogdanovich has played a major role in elucidating Welles and his career with his writings on the great actor-director, most notably his book "This is Orson Welles" (1992). He has steadily produced invaluable books about the cinema, especially "Who the Devil Made It: Conversations with Legendary Film Directors," an indispensable tome that establishes Bogdanovich, along with Kevin Brownlow, as one of the premier English-language chroniclers of cinema.
The 32-year-old Bogdanovich was hailed by a critics as a Wellesian wunderkind when his most famous film, The Last Picture Show (1971) was released. The film received eight Academy Award nominations, including Bogdanovich as Best Director, and won two of them, for Cloris Leachman and "John Ford Stock Company" veteran Ben Johnson in the supporting acting categories. Bogdanovich, who had cast 19-year-old model Cybill Shepherd in a major role in the film, fell in love with the young beauty, an affair that eventually led to his divorce from the film's set designer Polly Platt, his longtime artistic collaborator and the mother of his two children.
Bogdanovich followed up The Last Picture Show (1971) with a major hit, What's Up, Doc? (1972), a screwball comedy heavily indebted to Hawks' Bringing Up Baby (1938) and His Girl Friday (1940), starring Barbra Streisand and 'Ryan O'Neal'. Despite his reliance on homage to bygone cinema, Bogdanovich had solidified his status as one of a new breed of A-list directors that included Academy Award winners Francis Ford Coppola and William Friedkin, with whom he formed The Directors Company. The Directors Company was a generous production deal with Paramount Pictures that essentially gave the directors carte blanche if they kept within strict budget limitations. It was through this entity that Bogdanovich's next big hit, the critically praised Paper Moon (1973), was produced.
Paper Moon (1973), a Depression-era comedy starring Ryan O'Neal that won his ten-year-old daughter Tatum O'Neal an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress, proved to be the highwater mark of Bogdanovich's career. Forced to share the profits with his fellow directors, Bogdanovich became dissatisfied with the arrangement. The Directors Company subsequently produced only two more pictures, Francis Ford Coppola's critically acclaimed The Conversation (1974) which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture of 1974 and garnered Coppola an Oscar nod for Best Director, and Bogdanovich's Daisy Miller (1974), a film that had a quite different critical reception.
An adaptation of the Henry James novella, Daisy Miller (1974) spelled the beginning of the end of Bogdanovich's career as a popular, critically acclaimed director. The film, which starred Bogdanovich's lover Cybill Shepherd as the title character, was savaged by critics and was a flop at the box office. Bogdanovich's follow-up, At Long Last Love (1975), a filming of the Cole Porter musical starring Cybill Shepherd, was derided by critics as one of the worst films ever made, noted as such in Harry Medved and Michael Medved's book "The Golden Turkey Awards: Nominees and Winners, the Worst Achievements in Hollywood History" (1980). The film also was a box office bomb despite featuring Burt Reynolds, a hotly burning star who would achieve super-nova status at the end of the 1970s.
Once again beholden to the past, Bogdanovich insisted on filming the musical numbers for At Long Last Love (1975) live, a process not used since the early days of the talkies, when sound engineer Douglas Shearer developed lip-synching at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The decision was widely ridiculed, as none of the leading actors were known for their singing abilities (Bogdanovich himself had produced a critically panned album of Cybill Shepherd singing Cole Porter songs in 1974). The public perception of Bogdanovich became that of an arrogant director hamstrung by his own hubris.
Trying to recapture the lightning in the bottle that was his early success, Bogdanovich once again turned to the past, his own and that of cinema, with Nickelodeon (1976). The film, a comedy recounting the earliest days of the motion picture industry, reunited Ryan O'Neal and 'Tatum O'Neal' from his last hit, Paper Moon (1973) with Burt Reynolds. Counseled not to use the unpopular (with both audiences and critics) Cybill Shepherd in the film, Bogdanovich instead used newcomer Jane Hitchcock as the film's ingénue. Unfortunately, the magic of Paper Moon (1973) could not be repeated and the film died at the box office. Jane Hitchcock, Bogdanovich's discovery, would make only one more film before calling it quits.
After a three-year hiatus, Bogdanovich returned with the critically and financially underwhelming Saint Jack (1979) for Hugh M. Hefner's Playboy Productions Inc. Bogdanovich's long affair with Cybill Shepherd had ended in 1978, but the production deal making Hugh M. Hefner the film's producer was part of the settlement of a lawsuit Shepherd had filed against Hefner for publishing nude photos of her pirated from a print of The Last Picture Show (1971) in Playboy Magazine. Bogdanovich then launched the film that would be his career Waterloo, They All Laughed (1981), a low-budget ensemble comedy starring Audrey Hepburn and the 1980 Playboy Playmate of the Year, Dorothy Stratten. During the filming of the picture, Bogdanovich fell in love with Stratten, who was married to an emotionally unstable hustler, Paul Snider, who relied on her financially. Stratten moved in with Bogdanovich, and when she told Snider she was leaving him, he shot and killed her, sodomizing her corpse before committing suicide.
They All Laughed (1981) could not attract a distributor due to the negative publicity surrounding the Stratten murder, despite it being one of the few films made by the legendary Audrey Hepburn after her provisional retirement in 1967 (the film would prove to be Hepburn's last starring role in a theatrically released motion picture). The heartbroken Bogdanovich bought the rights to the negative so that it would be seen by the public, but the film had a limited release, garnered weak reviews and cost Bogdanovich millions of dollars, driving the emotionally devastated director into bankruptcy.
Bogdanovich turned back to his first avocation, writing, to pen a memoir of his dead love, "The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten (1960-1980)" that was published in 1984. The book was a riposte to Teresa Carpenter's "Death of a Playmate" article written for The Village Voice that had won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize. Carpenter had lambasted Bogdanovich and Hugh M. Hefner, claiming that Stratten was as much a victim of them as she was of Paul Snider. The article served as the basis of Bob Fosse's film Star 80 (1983), in which Bogdanovich was portrayed as the fictional director "Aram Nicholas".
Bogdanovich's career as a noted director was over, and though he achieved modest success with Mask (1985), his sequel to his greatest success The Last Picture Show (1971), Texasville (1990), was a critical and box office disappointment. He directed two more theatrical films in 1992 and 1993, but their failure kept him off the big screen until 2001's The Cat's Meow (2001). Returning once again to a reworking of the past, this time the alleged murder of director Thomas H. Ince by Welles' bete noir William Randolph Hearst, The Cat's Meow (2001) was a modest critical success but a flop at the box office. In addition to helming some television movies, Bogdanovich has returned to acting, with a recurring guest role on the cable television series "The Sopranos" (1999) as Dr. Jennifer Melfi's analyst.
Bogdanovich's personal reputation suffered from gossip about his 13-year marriage to Dorothy Stratten's 19-year-old-kid sister Louise Stratten, who was 29 years his junior. Some gossip held that Bogdanovich's behavior was akin to that of the James Stewart character in Alfred Hitchcock's necrophiliac masterpiece Vertigo (1958), with the director trying to remold Stratten into the image of her late sister. The marriage ended in divorce in 2001.
Now in his mid-60s, Bogdanovich clearly has imitated his hero Orson Welles, but in an unintended fashion, as a type of monumental failure much beloved by the mythmakers of Hollywood. However, unlike the widely acclaimed master Welles, the orbit of Bogdanovich's reputation has never recovered from the apogee it reached briefly in the early 1970s.
There has been speculation that Peter Bogdanovich's ruin as a director was guaranteed when he ditched his wife and artistic collaborator 'Polly Platt' for Cybill Shepherd. Platt had worked with Bogdanovich on all his early successes, and some critics believe that the controlling artistic consciousness on The Last Picture Show (1971) was Platt's. Parting company with Platt after Paper Moon (1973), Bogdanovich promptly slipped from the heights of a wunderkind to a has-been pursuing epic folly, as evidenced by Daisy Miller (1974) and At Long Last Love (1975).
In 1998 the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress named The Last Picture Show (1971) to the National Film Registry, an honor awarded only to the most culturally significant films. Viewing Daisy Miller (1974) alongside The Last Picture Show (1971) should be a standard part of film school curriculum, as it tends to debunk the auteur theory. Bogdanovich's career gives truth to the contention that film is an industrial process and each movie has many "authors," not just one (the director). If the auteur theory were true, Bogdanovich arguably would have returned to form eventually and produced more good films, if not another masterpiece.
He didn't - he didn't even come close. Thus, Bogdanovich will remain a footnote in cinema history, more valuable for his contributions to the literature of film than to the medium itself.
After spending most of his teens studying acting with the legendary Stella Adler, and working as an actor in live TV and various theaters around the country, including the New York and the American Shakespeare Festivals, Peter Bogdanovich at age 20 began directing plays Off-Broadway and in N.Y. summer theater. He also wrote for the Museum of Modern Art a series of three monographs on Orson Welles, 'Howard Hawks', and Alfred Hitchcock, the first such retrospective studies of these directors in America. He also began writing a classic series of feature articles and profiles for Esquire, doing the ground-breaking Humphrey Bogart tribute, as well as definitive pieces on James Stewart, Jerry Lewis, and John Ford, among others.
In 1966 he began working in movies first as Roger Corman's assistant on the hit, The Wild Angels (1966); Bogdanovich without credit re-wrote most of the script and directed the second unit. Within a year, Corman financed Bogdanovich's first film as director-writer-producer-actor with the cult classic, Targets (1968), starring Boris Karloff in his last great film role, virtually playing himself. In 1971, Bogdanovich commanded the approving attention of both critics and public with The Last Picture Show (1971), starring then-unknowns Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd, Ellen Burstyn, Cloris Leachman, and other newcomers, a brilliant look at small-town Texan-American life in the early 1950s. The film won the New York Film Critics' Circle Award for Best Screenplay (which Bogdanovich co-wrote with novelist 'Larry McMurtry'), the British Academy Award for Best Screenplay, and received a total of eight Academy Award nominations, including three for Bogdanovich; Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman won for Best Supporting Actor and Actress. A couple of years ago, the Library of Congress designated the film as a National Treasure.
An unapologetic popularizer of the classic Hollywood era of great movie makers, Bogdanovich had a second huge success in 1972 with What's Up, Doc? (1972), a madcap romantic farce starring Barbra Streisand and 'Ryan O'Neal', made in the style of '30s screwball comedy; it won The Writers' Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay, on which Bogdanovich had worked with Buck Henry, David Newman and Robert Benton. One year later, he recreated a memorable vision of rural '30s America with Paper Moon (1973), a Depression Era tale about a pair of unlikely con artists, which got four Academy Award nominations and nabbed a Supporting Actress Oscar for nine-year-old Tatum O'Neal in her screen debut, the youngest performer ever to win an Academy Award. The film was also awarded the Silver Shell at The San Sebastian Film Festival.
Bogdanovich followed this up with his critically acclaimed (N.Y. Times, Newsweek, etc.) version of Henry James' classic Daisy Miller (1974), for which he was named Best Director at the Brussels Film Festival. Another highly praised drama followed with Bogdanovich's version of the Paul Theroux novel, Saint Jack (1979), starring Ben Gazzara and Denholm Elliott, which told the story of an amiable and ambitious American pimp living in Singapore. Shot entirely on location, the picture received the coveted Critics' Prize at the Venice Film Festival. After directing Audrey Hepburn in her last starring picture, the bittersweet romantic comedy, They All Laughed (1981), co-starring Gazzara, John Ritter, and 'Dorothy Stratten', and filmed in New York, Bogdanovich scored another major triumph with 1985's Mask (1985), starring Cher and Eric Stoltz in the true story of a boy whose face has been terribly disfigured by a rare disease and the mother who has instilled in her son a sense of confidence and love. The film won an Academy Award and Cher won the Best Actress Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
After guiding Michael Frayn's classic theater comedy Noises Off... (1992) to the screen for Steven Spielberg's company with an all-star cast, including Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve, and Carol Burnett, as well as the well-received sequel to The Last Picture Show (1971), based on 'Larry McMurtry''s best-seller, Texasville (1990). In 2002, Bogdanovich again received critical praise and commercial success with The Cat's Meow (2001). This suspenseful and entertaining satirical drama tells the true story of a mysterious 1924 death on board the yacht of William Randolph Hearst; starring Kirsten Dunst (as Hearst's mistress Marion Davies), Eddie Izzard (as Charles Chaplin), Edward Herrmann (as Hearst) and 'Jennifer Tilly' (as Louella Parsons), all of whom garnered glowing notices.
Having published over twelve books on various aspects of film and filmmaking, Bogdanovich currently has four of his works in print: the bestselling "Who The Devil Made It" (1997), which includes interviews with sixteen legendary directors, including Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, George Cukor, and Howard Hawks (5 printings in hardcover; currently 4th paperback printing); "Peter Bogdanovich's Movie Of The Week" (1999), a collection of pieces on fifty-two film recommendations for a year of classics (in its 3rd printing); "This Is Orson Welles" (revised and expanded edition 1998), comprised of his conversations over a period of five years with by now nearly mythological co-author Orson Welles (in its 5th printing), already translated into five foreign languages; and his classic interview book, "John Ford", which has been continuously in print since its first edition in 1967. "Who The Devil Made It" also received a Special Citation from the Los Angeles Film Critics' Association, as well as the coveted Barbari Award from the Italian Film Critics' Association.
In 2004 came the premiere of Bogdanovich's 3-hour ABC special, The Mystery of Natalie Wood (2004) (TV), as well as his hard-hitting docudrama about the infamous ballplayer Pete Rose, called "Hustle" (2004). At the end of the year, Knopf published his latest book, "Who The Hell's In It", which features chapters on 25 stars he knew or worked with including Cary Grant, James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, James Cagney, Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando. Also shown was the episode he directed, "Sentimental Education," for the 5th season of the award-winning HBO series, "The Sopranos" (1999), in which for four seasons he has had the recurring role of the shrink's (Lorraine Bracco's) shrink. Early in 2006, Bogdanovich revised his 1971 documentary Directed by John Ford (1971), about the life and work of the great American filmmaker, for Warner Brothers. The film now includes interviews with such avowed Ford admirers as Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg and had its world premiere at the 2006 Telluride Film Festival.
Currently, Bogdanovich is finishing a documentary on the career of Rock and Roll legend Tom Petty but will soon return to feature film directing in early 2007 with The Broken Code (2009), a true story that examines the controversy surrounding the discovery of the structure of DNA through the friendship of two very special women.
In addition to his documentary and feature film work, Bogdanovich is helping launch a new Internet channel, The Golden Age Of Movies With Peter Bogdanovich for Clickstar that will offer his commentary and perspective on great cinema of the past.
|Louise Stratten||(30 December 1988 - 2001) (divorced)|
|Polly Platt||(June 1962 - June 1972) 2 children|
Always seen wearing a neck scarf
Boyfriend of Playboy Playmate of the year Dorothy Stratten (1980) who was murdered by her estranged jealous husband. Wrote a book about Stratten soon after.
Is of Serbian heritage.
Married to Dorothy Stratten's sister Louise (b. 1968) from 1988-2001
Partner of Cybill Shepherd [1971 - 1978]
Is a vegetarian.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945- 1985". Pages 133-138. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.
Has a signed photograph from Cybill Shepherd hanging in the study of his New York City apartment signed "Dear Sven, I wouldn't be here without you." "Sven" is short for "Svengali", the musician in George L. Du Maurier's Bohemian novel "Trilby" who, through hypnosis, teaches the eponymous heroine to sing and controls her singing for his own purposes.
Something of a film historian, he set out to interview a good many of the important directors and stars from the "Golden Age of Hollywood", interviews later compiled in a series of books he released. While his "relationships" with some of his subjects were mere brief encounters, others turned into long-lasting friendships. Among the legends he befriended were Orson Welles, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, James Stewart, Audrey Hepburn, Jean Renoir, Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich and Jerry Lewis.
Believes that his falling out with legendary director John Ford was related to his guiding long-time Ford repertory member Ben Johnson to the Academy Award. His ex-wife, Polly Platt, says that Ford didn't like Bogdanovich's treatment of her that led to a divorce. Platt stayed close to Ford until he died.
Directed 6 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Ben Johnson, Jeff Bridges, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, 'Tatum O'Neal (I)' and Madeline Kahn. Johnson, Leachman and O'Neal all won Oscars for their performances.
Interviewed in "The Director's Event: Interviews with Five American Filmmakers", by Eric Sherman and Martin Rubin.
Member of the jury at the Venice Film Festival in 1981.
Member of the jury at the Venice Film Festival in 1992.
After At Long Last Love (1975) was been pulled from theaters due to poor ticket sales, he wrote an open letter, printed in newspapers throughout the country, apologizing for the quality of the film.
Turned down an offer to direct Chinatown (1974).
An extensive interview with Fritz Lang resulted in the book "Fritz Lang in America" published by Praesger in 1967.
They're all so jealous in Hollywood. It's not enough to have a hit. Your best friend should also have a failure.
I've always been a self-confessed opportunist.
I always thought that the goal in movies was to extinguish disbelief.
The end of the studio system signaled the end of the great screen stars. They were the sort of actors who brought their own charismatic personas to each role they played. Audiences felt as if they knew them immediately every time they watched one of their movies.
Marlon Brando changed everything for actors. After him, everyone wanted to be Marlon. No one wanted to be a type: they all wanted to display versatility in every role. But the brilliance that Marlon had was that he had star personality that shone through in every role.
It's a misconception about acting that it's a practice in pretending to be someone else. It's actually a practice in finding the character within yourself.
I made a lot of mistakes when I was successful in the '70s. You know, there's no handbook for success so I couldn't make out what vibe I was picking up. But it's called jealousy, envy and loathing, though they come at you with smiles because they want something from you. So you put on a front of arrogance to cover insecurity.
[when asked why he picked Larry McMurtry's novel "The Last Picture Show" as subject matter] I liked the idea of doing a period piece because I like anything better in the past than in the present. I'm not moved by things that happen in the present, only when I think about them later. Life is too real when it's actually happening.
[on the critical plaudits earned by The Last Picture Show (1971)] I'm very gratified by the reception. It's gone beyond my wildest dreams. To have your picture compared to Citizen Kane (1941) is incredible; certainly it isn't true, but it's nice to have it written.
Filmmakers have a responsibility to the audience and to the work, I wish they felt that responsibility more, especially to what's true in life.
[regarding his trademark neck scarves] I'm just wearing a bandanna; it's not so fancy. Most of the time they are cotton and different sizes. It started when I was shooting The Last Picture Show (1971) in Texas, and I liked wearing it because it made me feel secure. I don't know why. But it feels cozy, and I kept wearing it.
I think one of the reasons younger people don't like older films, films made say before the '60s, is that they've never seen them on a big screen, ever. If you don't see a film on a big screen, you haven't really seen it. You've seen a version of it, but you haven't seen it. That's my feeling, but I'm old-fashioned.
The only formal training I ever did was four years as an actor. When I direct, I think like one of the actors.
It's sad that most film-goers today never saw a movie made before Star Wars (1977).
Directing is really creating an atmosphere, a particular kind of atmosphere and usually one that is very peculiar to the director. It doesn't necessarily have to be. Some directors have no personality and it shows. But one way or another, what the actors are doing or the crews are doing, they're trying to please the director.
[on making The Last Picture Show (1971)] I hope I'm not repeating what happened to [Orson Welles]. You know, make a successful serious film like this early and then spend the rest of my life in decline.
|Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968)||$3,000|
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