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Horton Foote Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (8)  | Personal Quotes (5)

Overview (3)

Born in Wharton, Texas, USA
Died in Hartford, Connecticut, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameAlbert Horton Foote Jr.

Mini Bio (1)

Horton Foote, the Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist and Oscar-winning screenwriter, was born on March 14, 1916, in Wharton, Texas. He says at the age of ten, he had a "calling" to become an actor, and when he was 16 he convinced his parents to allow him to go to acting school. With their blessing he went to Pasadena, California, where he studied acting for two years at the Pasadena Playhouse. Subsequently, he moved to New York City and studied at Tamara Daykarhanova's Theatre School where he was inculcated with Michael Chekhov's version of the Second Studio technique developed at the Moscow Art Theatre. In time, Foote the dramatist would be hailed as the "American Chekhov," and his education does link him to the Russian master.

Foote was one of the founders of the American Actors Company. He racked up some minor roles on stage, and decided that becoming a dramatist was his best insurance policy for ensuring he received decent roles. In 1944 he made his Broadway debut with "Only the Heart." His fate was sealed when he received better reviews for his writing than for his acting.

Throughout the 1940s Foote continued to write for the theater, including experimental works. He started to write for television to support himself, soon becoming one of the mainstays of the Golden Age of television drama. He wrote teleplays for Playhouse 90 (1956), Repertory Theatre (1948) and The United States Steel Hour (1953). Foote won an Oscar for Best Adapted screenplay for Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), which was the movie debut of Robert Duvall. Foote also continued to prosper on Broadway, with his plays "The Chase," "The Trip to Bountiful" with Lillian Gish and "The Traveling Lady" with Kim Stanley.

After the film of "Mockingbird," Foote adapted "The Traveling Lady" as the movie Baby the Rain Must Fall (1965), but he began to grow disillusioned with Hollywood due to its treatment of his work. Despite being produced by multiple Oscar-winner Sam Spiegel, adapted by Lillian Hellman, and directed by Arthur Penn, as well as featuring one of Marlon Brando's finest performances, the film version of The Chase (1966) was a debacle. It was excoriated by the critics and a flop at the box office.

Now out of favor both in Hollywood and on Broadway, Foote went into an exile of sorts in New Hampshire. Ten years after "To Kill a Mockingbird," Duvall gave a brilliant performance in Tomorrow (1972), the movie made from Foote's adaptation of William Faulkner's eponymous story. The film is a small masterpiece, and was well-reviewed by critics. Foote, whom Duvall calls "the rural Chekhov," wrote an original screenplay for the actor ten years after their collaboration on "Tomorrow." Tender Mercies (1983) brought both of them Oscars, for Best Original Screenplay for Foote and Best Actor for Duvall. A couple of years later, Geraldine Page would win the Best Actress Oscar for Foote's The Trip to Bountiful (1985), which brought him his third Academy Award nomination.

In the 1970s he presented his nine-play cycle "Orphans' Home," based on his family. He remained active as as dramatist and screenwriter throughout the 1980s and '90s, and in 1995, his play "The Young Man From Atlanta," was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Nominated for an Emmy in 1959 for adapting Faulkner's short story "The Old Man" for "Playhouse 90," he would win the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or a Special 42 years later for his second adaptation of the story (Old Man (1997)). He remains active in the 21st century, well into his 90s.

Among Foote's prose works are "Farewell: A Memoir of a Texas Childhood" (1999), an account of life in Wharton, Texas. Hoote created the fictional town of Harrison, Texas, which he used as the locale for many of his plays. The first two installments of his autobiography, "Farewell," and "Beginnings," were published in 1999 and 2001, respectively.

In addition to his Pulitzer Prize and two Oscars, Foote was honored with the William Inge Award for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theatre in 1989, a Gold Medal for Drama from the Academy of Arts and Letters in 1998, the Writer's Guild of America's Lifetime Achievement award in 1999, and the PEN American Center's Master American Dramatist Award in 2000.

Horton Foote's success can be attributed to his honest examination of the human condition, and why some people survive tragedies while others are destroyed. His central themes of the sense of belonging and longing for home have resonate with audiences for 60 years.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (1)

Lillian V. Foote (3 June 1945 - 5 August 1992) ( her death) ( 4 children)

Trivia (8)

Cousin of actor-director Peter Masterson.
Was nominated for Broadway's 1997 Tony Award as author of Best Play nominee "The Young Man from Atlanta."
His screenplays for To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and Tender Mercies (1983) both won Oscars for Best Screenplay. Robert Duvall appeared in both films.
Father-in-law of Devon Abner and Tim Guinee.
He was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts in 2000 by the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington D.C.
Won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the play "The Young Man from Atlanta".
Nominated for the 2009 Tony Award for Best Play for "Dividing the Estate".

Personal Quotes (5)

I've redone plays of mine and made changes. A play is a living thing, and I'd never say I wouldn't rewrite years later. Tennessee Williams did that all the time and it's distressing, because I'd like the play to be out there in its finished form. And then you also have new interpretations. At the same time, you do realize how much you are at the mercy of your interpreters.
I'd always write a play that would be successful and critically accepted. I'm always surprised at the reaction, good or bad. The last few years, critics have, on the whole, been very kind to me, but in writing I can't think about commercial things. It'd be the wrong end of the stick, so to speak. I've lived long enough to know things go in and out of fashion, and things not well received now can be totally reversed years later.
I believe very deeply in the human spirit, and I have a sense of awe about it. I look around and ask, What makes the difference? What is it? I've known people the world has thrown everything at-to discourage them, to kill them, to break their spirit. And yet something about them retains a dignity. They face life and they don't ask quarters.
I'm a social writer in the sense that I want to record, but not in the sense of trying to change people's minds.
I can't get over the fact that I can go into many places in New York, and people know who I am. I never really know who I am myself. I'm impressed by that.

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