Peter Bogdanovich, Oscar-Nominated Director, Dead at 82

Peter Bogdanovich, the filmmaker behind the classics The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon, and What's Up, Doc? has died. He was 82. Bogdanovich was also an indispensable Hollywood film historian, whose wealth of knowledge about the Golden Age of Hollywood passed on to younger generations of film lovers. Even before he began making films himself, Bogdanovich was a prolific writer whose work included interviews with Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, and many other luminaries of a filmmaking generation that only survives today through its work.

Bogdanovich died just after midnight Thursday from natural causes, his daughter, Antonia Bogdanovich, 54, told The Hollywood Reporter. The filmmaker is also survived by daughter Sashy Bogdanovich, 51, and his grandchildren, Maceo, Levi and Wyatt. He was married to the production designer and producer Polly Platt from 1962 to 1971. His second wife was Louise Stratten, the younger sister of the late Dorothy Stratten, whom Bogdanovich dated in 1980. Stratten and Bognadonvich were married from 1988 to 2001.

After getting his work published in New York City and working as a film programmer for the Museum of Modern Art, Bogdanovich and Platt moved to Los Angeles to break into films themselves. His first work was for Roger Corman, and he directed the 1968 Boris Karloff movie Targets.

In 1971, Bogdanovich scored his breakthrough film with the black and white Texas-set The Last Picture Show, which remains his best-loved film. The movie earned eight Oscar nominations, and Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman both won Oscars for their supporting performances. Bogdanovich was nominated for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. He shared the latter nomination with The Last Picture Show author Larry McMurtry. During filming, Bogdanovich also started an affair with star Cybill Shepherd, which would lead to his breakup with Platt.

Bogdanovich and Platt continued working together on his next two films, both of which were instant hits and hailed as classics. Paper Moon won Tatum O'Neal her Best Supporting Actress Oscar, and What's Up, Doc? was a spellbinding send-up of Hollywood screwball comedies with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal. However, Platt and Bogdanovich went their separate ways. His next films, Daisy Miller and At Long Last Love, both with Shepherd, were flops.

Bogdanovich continued directing himself, occasionally making well-received movies, including Mask with Cher and the very underrated Saint Jack with Ben Gazzara. His final film as a director turned out to be She's Funny That Way, starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. He also directed several documentaries, including the 2018 Buster Keaton documentary The Great Buster.

For many others, Bogdanovich was a character actor on television. He starred in dozens of shows, most memorably as Dr. Elliot Kupferberg in 15 episodes of The Sopranos. He also turned up in episodes of How I Met Your Mother and Rizzoli & Isles. Bogdanovich even had a cameo in It Chapter Two in 2019.


His other role in Hollywood was as a historian. He was lifelong friends with Welles and championed his work when Welles no longer could himself. Bogdanovich, his famous glasses, and his ever-present ascot were featured in plenty of DVD documentaries. He also provided commentary tracks for his favorite movies. He also wrote several books, including The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten 1960-1980, in which he wrote that Playboy's Hugh Hefner shouldered some of the blame for Dorothy's death. He published his interviews with Welles in 1992 as This Is Orson Welles. One of his final projects was a season of Turner Classic Movies' The Plot Thickens podcast that tracked his life and career. He also helped make sure Welles' final movie, The Other Side of the Wind, was finally released in 2018 by Netflix.