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Peter Bogdanovich Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (1)  | Trivia (24)  | Personal Quotes (27)  | Salary (2)

Overview (2)

Born in Kingston, New York, USA
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Peter Bogdanovich was conceived in Europe but born in Kingston, New York. He is the son of immigrants fleeing the Nazis, Herma (Robinson) and Borislav Bogdanovich, a painter and pianist. His father was a Serbian Orthodox Christian, and his mother was from a wealthy Austrian Jewish family. Peter 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 Éric 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 Hefner's Playboy Productions Inc. Bogdanovich's long affair with Cybill Shepherd had ended in 1978, but the production deal making Hugh 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, then committed 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 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 early eighties, 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.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (2)

Louise Stratten (30 December 1988 - 2001) ( divorced)
Polly Platt (June 1962 - 1972) ( 2 children)

Trade Mark (1)

Always seen wearing a neck scarf

Trivia (24)

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.
His mother was from an Austrian Jewish family and his father was of Serbian descent.
Married to Dorothy Stratten's sister Louise (b. 1968) from 1988-2001
(1971 - 1978) Partner of Cybill Shepherd
Was meant to direct Duck You Sucker (1971) with Sergio Leone producing, but backed out at the last minute due to his fear of such a large production. Leone stepped in and directed it himself.
He was offered the chance to direct The Godfather (1972), but turned down producer Robert Evans, as did several other directors. It was only then that Evans hired Francis Ford Coppola.
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 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 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.
Will be working in Australia's Fox Studios, for a "Natalie Wood" project starring Justine Waddell and Sophie Monk. [June 2003]
Five of his first eight pictures are period pieces. He's directed seven in all.
Even though 'Saint Jack' wasn't a box office success, it's been considered an artistic comeback for Peter as far as style and quality goes: the return to a lower budget, character-driven project after his big budget features had been bombing after the success of Paper Moon in 1974.
Known for using slow moving dolly shots, and is especially fond of scenes with either actors speaking back-and-forth or providing a monologue without any cuts, or as few cuts as possible. His mentor, Orson Welles, said that less cuts were what separated "the men from the boys.".
He has directed one film that has been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: The Last Picture Show (1971).
Alumnus of Stella Adler Studio of Acting.

Personal Quotes (27)

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.
They don't have personalities, so they can't be stars. Do me a Tom Cruise impression, do me a Tom Hanks impression.
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.
[to producer Irwin Winkler, recounted in Peter Biskind's book "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls"] Remember me? I used to be Peter Bogdanovich.
[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 (Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (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.
Saint Jack (1979) and They All Laughed (1981) were two of my best films but never received the kind of distribution they should have.[2006]
[on The Last Picture Show (1971), 2015] We had such a bunch of good actors in that film. [The scene in which] Cloris Leachman [who won the best supporting actress Oscar for her role] throws that coffee pot and yells at Timothy Bottoms - Cloris did it brilliantly. She wanted to rehearse it and I kept saying, "I don't want to rehearse it; I want to see it for the first time when we actually roll." I had learned that idea - to not let the actors show you an emotional scene before they shot it - from John Ford through Peter Bogdanovich. It was Hank Fonda who told me that for the big climactic scene with the mother in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), [Ford] wouldn't let the actors play it for him - he wanted it to be fresh when they did it and of course he used the first take. So I said, "Action!" and she was extraordinary. [But] she said, "I can do it better." I said, "No, you can't; you just won the Oscar." And to this day - Jeff Bridges told me that he [recently] ran into Cloris and that she said, "Oh, I'm so angry at Peter. That was the first take. I could have done it better." And Jeff said: "Oh, Cloris. You won the Oscar!"
[on Paper Moon (1973), 2015] They said, "[John] Huston wants to do this with [Paul] Newman and his daughter, but we'd rather have you." I said, "OK, I'll do this with Ryan [O'Neal] and Tatum O'Neal." But they didn't want them. [Producer] Bob Evans was pissed off at Ryan because Ryan had an affair with Ali [MacGraw] while she was married to Bob on Love Story (1970). And I said, "Bob, I have a hit in the top 10 called What's Up, Doc? (1972) with Ryan O'Neal. How do you explain to your shareholders that you won't do a picture with this megastar?" It was an unarguable point. I think it's one of the audience's favorites of my pictures. People really like that movie. It didn't get great notices originally - it got mixed notices - but it was a big thing with the audience.
[on What's Up, Doc? (1972), 2015] [This] was really the second picture in my career that I styled to a movie star. One was Boris Karloff in Targets (1968) and the second was Barbra Streisand in What's Up, Doc? The entire picture came about because Barbra wanted to do a picture with me. What happened was she saw an early cut of Picture Show and was extremely moved. She said, "I want to do a drama with you." I said, "I just did a drama. I want to do a comedy." I had seen that she could be very, very good. She had a few bad habits that I would be able to fix, but my major feeling was that she was brilliant at comedy - and, as it turned out, she is. She sort of took that for granted - that's why she wanted to do a drama with me, because for her, comedy was fairly easy. She was a joy. She's great in the picture and I love her dearly, I really do. Even though she didn't trust the material, she went along with my humor and we became very good friends and we get along very well - and I have nothing but affection and love for Barbra.
[on Mask (1985), 2015] I made that picture for Dorothy Stratten because she'd been murdered, and in the 10 months I knew her I found that she was very, very interested in The Elephant Man on Broadway. She went to see this production and she was very moved by it. After she was killed I figured it out: Dorothy identified with him because of her beauty - because her beauty was as much of a source of alienation as his ugliness. They came to me with this picture called Mask. I thought it was not a very good script but it surely was an interesting story because it was a true story. And then I remember how Dorothy felt about The Elephant Man and I thought, "Well, I'll make it for her." [We had] a list of actresses for the role of Rusty. Ellen Burstyn and Cloris [Leachman] and Jane Fonda - anybody with a name. About two-thirds of the way through the list, there's Cher. I said, "That's interesting. I can see her [playing] a druggie and riding a motorcycle, and I can't see Jane Fonda doing it. She's too sophisticated." Cher and I didn't get along that well. She sort of irritated me, because she had such a negative attitude. But she's very good in the picture. I don't think I've ever shot more close-ups - she's very good in close-ups and not that good in playing the whole scene through, because she loses the thread of it. So I shot it that way, and she should have won an Oscar.
[on today's comedies, 2015] I don't go to see too many of those, because I saw Knocked Up (2007) which I thought was ridiculous - she would never go with that guy, even if she was dead drunk. It's a movie by people, I guess, who have wish fulfillment issues. A lot of the comedies are based on body fluid jokes or jokes about sperm in your hair. I'm not keen on that kind of comedy.
Red River (1948) was my favorite movie when I was ten.
(On Cary Grant) I always wished he hadn't stopped.
[on "Illegally Yours"] I consider that one to be my penance...for being so difficult with everybody while making "Mask" three years prior.

Salary (2)

Targets (1968) $3,000
Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968) $3,000

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