PETER BOGDANOVICH Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Name: Peter Bogdanovich                                                                         
Born: 30 July 1939 Kingston, New York                                                           
Peter Bogdanovich (born July 30, 1939) is a                                                     
Serbian-American film director, writer and actor. He was part of the wave of "New               
Hollywood" directors (which included William Friedkin, Brian DePalma, George                   
Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Michael Cimino and Francis Ford                       
Coppola, among others), and was particularly relevant during the 1970s with his                 
film The Last Picture Show.                                                                     
The son of immigrants fleeing the Nazis -- his father is a Serbian painter and                 
pianist and his mother descended from a rich Austrian Jewish family --                         
Bogdanovich was conceived in Europe but born in America. He was originally an                   
actor in the 1950s, studying his craft with acting teacher Stella Adler (he was                 
only 16 but had to lie about his age and say he was 18 to qualify), and                         
appearing on television and in summer stock. In the early 1960s, Bogdanovich                   
became known 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, whom he subsequently wrote a book about 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 Cinéma, especially critic-turned-director François Truffaut. Before               
becoming a director himself, he built his reputation as a film writer with                     
articles in Esquire. These articles were collected in "Pieces of Time" (1973).In               
1968, following the example of Cahiers du Cinéma critics Truffaut, Jean-Luc                   
Godard, Claude Chabrol, and Éric Rohmer who had created the Nouvelle Vague ("New               
Wave") by making their own films, Bogdanovich decided to become a director. With               
his wife Polly Platt in tow, they packed their bags, took a grocery carriage                   
full of books and loaded them into their car and headed for Los Angeles,                       
skipping out on their rent in the process. Intent on getting into the industry,                 
Bogdanovich's persistence paid off when he would bug publicists for movie                       
premiere and industry party invites. At one screening, Bogdanovich was viewing a               
film with film director Roger Corman sitting behind him. The two struck up a                   
conversation when Corman mentioned he liked a cinema piece Bogdanovich wrote for               
Esquire. It was in this conversation that Corman offered him a directing job                   
which Bogdanovich didn't even blink before accepting. He went on to work with                   
Corman on Targets and Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women. Bogdanovich                   
later said of the Corman school of filmmaking, "I went from getting the laundry                 
to directing the picture in three weeks. Altogether, I worked 22 weeks –                     
preproduction, shooting, second unit, cutting, dubbing – I haven't learned as                 
much since."                                                                                   
Turning back to journalism, Bogdanovich struck up a life-long friendship with                   
Orson Welles while interviewing him on the set of Mike Nichols's Catch-22.                     
Bogdanovich played a major role in elucidating Welles and his career with his                   
writings on the actor-director, most notably his book This is Orson Welles (1992).             
In the early-70s when Welles was having financial problems, Bogdanovich let him                 
stay at his Bel Air mansion for a couple of years.                                             
In 1970, Bogdanovich was commissioned by the American Film Institute to direct a               
documentary about John Ford for a tribute, Directed by John Ford. The resulting                 
film is considered a classic Hollywood profile documentary. It included candid                 
interviews with the likes of John Wayne, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, and was                   
narrated by Orson Welles. Out of circulation for years due to licensing issues,                 
Bogdanovich and TCM released it in 2006, featuring newer, pristine film clips,                 
and additional interviews with Clint Eastwood, Walter Hill, Harry Carey, Jr.,                   
Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and others.                                                 
The 32-year old Bogdanovich was hailed by a critics as a "Wellesian" wunderkind                 
when his best known film, The Last Picture Show, was released in 1971. The film                 
received eight Academy Awards nominations, including Best Director, and won two                 
statues: Cloris Leachman and Ben Johnson in the supporting acting categories.                   
Bogdanovich, who had cast the 19-year-old model Cybill Shepherd in a major role                 
in the film, fell in love with her, an affair that eventually led to his divorce               
from Polly Platt, his long-time artistic collaborator and the mother of his two                 
Bogdanovich followed up The Last Picture Show with the popular hit What's Up,                   
Doc? (1972) starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal, a screwball comedy                       
indebted to Hawks' Bringing Up Baby (1937) and His Girl Friday (1941). 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                 
budget limitations. It was through this entity that Bogdanovich's Paper Moon (1973)             
was produced.                                                                                   
Paper Moon, a Depression-era comedy starring Ryan O'Neal that won his 10-year-old               
daughter Tatum O'Neal an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress, proved to be the high-water         
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, Coppola's The Conversation               
(1974), which was nominated for Best Picture in 1974 alongside The Godfather,                   
Part II (1974), and Bogdanovich's Daisy Miller, a film that had a lackluster                   
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 Shepherd as the title                     
character, was savaged by critics and was a flop at the box office. Bogdanovich's               
follow-up, an original screenplay (set to the music of Cole Porter), At Long                   
Last Love (1975) starring Shepherd, was panned by critics as one of the worst                   
films ever made and noted as such in Harry and Michael Medved's 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,                   
whose star would only rise during the 1970s.                                                   
Once again beholden to the past, Bogdanovich insisted on filming the musical                   
numbers for At Long Last Love live, a process not used since the early days of                 
the talkies. 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 Shepherd singing Porter songs in 1974.) The public                   
perception of Bogdanovich became that of an arrogant director hamstrung by his                 
own hubris.                                                                                     
Bogdanovich turned back again to old triumphs and traditions with Nickelodeon (1976),           
a comedy recounting the earliest days of the motion picture industry and                       
reuniting Paper Moon's Ryan and Tatum O'Neal with Reynolds. Counseled not to use               
the critically unpopular Shepherd in the film, Bogdanovich instead used newcomer               
Jane Hitchcock as the film's ingénue. Unfortunately, the magic of Paper Moon                   
could not be repeated and the film died at the box office.                                     
After a three-year hiatus, Bogdanovich returned with the critically and                         
financially underwhelming Saint Jack (1979) for Hugh Hefner's Playboy                           
Productions Inc. Bogdanovich's long affair with Shepherd had ended in 1978, but                 
the production deal making 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 in Playboy Magazine. Bogdanovich                 
then launched the film that would be his career Waterloo, They All Laughed, a                   
low-budget ensemble comedy starring Audrey Hepburn and the 20 year-old Playboy                 
Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten. During the filming of the picture,                       
Bogdanovich fell in love with Stratten, who was married to Paul Snider. Stratten               
moved in with Bogdanovich, and when she told Snider she was leaving him, she was               
killed in a murder-suicide.                                                                     
They All Laughed could not attract a distributor due to the negative publicity                 
surrounding the Stratten murder, despite its being one of the few films made by                 
the legendary Audrey Hepburn after her provisional retirement in 1967. 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 to weak reviews and lost                 
Bogdanovich millions, driving him into bankruptcy. Apart from the tragic                       
circumstances of its making, though, the film has a small but devoted following.               
Director Quentin Tarantino listed it as one of the Ten Best Films of All Time in               
the 2002 Sight and Sound poll.                                                                 
Bogdanovich turned back to writing as his directorial career sagged, beginning                 
with memoir of his dead love, The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten (1960–1980)       
that was published in 1984. Teresa Carpenter's "Death of a Playmate" article                   
about Stratten's murder had been published in The Village Voice, and had won the               
1981 Pulitzer Prize. While Bogdanovich never criticized Carpenter's article in                 
his book, she had lambasted Bogdanovich and Hefner, claiming that Stratten was                 
as much a victim of them as she was of Snider. In particular she criticized                     
Bogdanovich for his "puerile preference for ingenues." Carpenter's article                     
served as the basis of Bob Fosse's film Star 80 (1983), in which Bogdanovich,                   
for legal reasons, was portrayed as the fictional director "Aram Nicholas," a                   
sympathetic but possibly misguided and naive character.                                         
Though he achieved huge success with Mask in 1985, Bogdanovich's sequel to The                 
Last Picture Show, Texasville (1990), was a critical and box office                             
disappointment. Both films occasioned major disputes between Bogdanovich, who                   
still demanded a measure of control over his films, and the studios, which now                 
exerted control over the finance and final cut of both films. Mask was released                 
with a song score by Bob Seger against Bogdanovich's wishes (he favored Bruce                   
Springsteen), and Bogdanovich has often complained that the version of                         
Texasville that was released was not the film he had intended to release. A                     
director's cut of Mask, slightly longer and with the songs of Springsteen, was                 
belatedly released on DVD in 2006. A director's cut of Texasville was released                 
on laserdisc, though it has never been released on DVD. Around the time of the                 
release of Texasville, Bogdanovich also re-visited his earliest success, The                   
Last Picture Show, and produced a slightly modified director's cut. Since that                 
time, his re-cut has been the only available version of the film.                               
Bogdanovich directed two more theatrical films in 1992 and 1993, but their                     
failure kept him off the big screen for several years. One, Noises Off..., has                 
subsequently developed a strong cult following, while the other, The Thing                     
Called Love, is better known as one of actor River Phoenix's last roles before                 
an untimely drug-related death.                                                                 
In 1997, the director entered bankruptcy protection once more and briefly moved                 
in with friends in New York City.                                                               
Bogdanovich, drawing from his encyclopedic knowledge of film history, authored                 
several critically lauded texts including Peter Bogdanovich's Movie of the Week,               
which offered the lifelong cinephile's erudite commentary on 52 of his favorite                 
films; and Who The Devil Made It: Conversations with Legendary Film Directors                   
and Who the Hell's in It: Conversations with Hollywood's Legendary Actors, both                 
based on interviews conducted in the past with many of the greatest directors                   
and actors.                                                                                     
In 2001, Bogdanovich resurfaced with The Cat's Meow. Returning once again to a                 
reworking of the past, this time the supposed murder of director Thomas Ince by                 
Welles' bête noire William Randolph Hearst, The Cat's Meow was a modest critical               
success but made little money at the box office. Bogdanovich says he heard the                 
story of the alleged Ince murder from director Orson Welles who in turn said he                 
heard it from writer Herman J. Mankiewicz. In addition to helming some                         
television movies, Bogdanovich has returned to acting, with a recurring guest                   
role on the cable television series The Sopranos as Dr. Melfi's psychotherapist.               
Bogdanovich directed a fifth season episode of the series. In an homage to his                 
Sopranos character, he also voiced the analyst of Bart Simpson's therapist in an               
episode of The Simpsons.                                                                       
Bogdanovich's personal reputation suffered from gossip about his 13-year                       
marriage to Dorothy Stratten's younger sister, Louise Hoogstraten, who was 29                   
years his junior. The marriage ended in divorce in 2001.                                       
In 1998, the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress named                 
The Last Picture Show to the National Film Registry, an honor awarded only to                   
the most culturally significant films.                                                         
Bogdanovich hosted The Essentials on Turner Classic Movies but was replaced in                 
May 2006 by TCM host Robert Osborne and film critic Molly Haskell. Bogdanovich                 
is also frequently featured in introductions to movies on the famed Criterion                   
Collection DVDs. He also had a supporting role as a fictional version of himself               
in the Showtime comedy series Out of Order. He will next appear in The Dream                   
In addition to his writing, directing and acting, Bogdanovich is in demand as a                 
speaker for doing impeccable impressions of Hollywood legends whom he befriended               
over the years, among them Cary Grant, James Stewart, Orson Welles, Alfred                     
Hitchcock and Jerry Lewis.                                                                     
In 2006, Bogdanovich joined forces with ClickStar, where he hosts a classic                     
movie channel, Peter Bogdanovich's Golden Age of Movies. Bodganovich also writes               
a blog for the site.                                                                           
In 2007, Bogdanovich was presented with the 2007 award for outstanding                         
contribution to film preservation by The International Federation of Film                       
Archives at the Toronto International Film Festival.