Director Peter Bogdanovich Was No Stranger to Controversy

Filmmaker is dead at 82
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2022 12:27 PM CST
Director Peter Bogdanovich Dead at 82
This 2015 file photo shows director Peter Bogdanovich at the Los Angeles premiere of "She's Funny That Way."   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

Longtime director Peter Bogdanovich has died of natural causes at the age of 82, his family announced Thursday. He gained fame early in his career in 1971 in just his second film, The Last Picture Show, per the Hollywood Reporter, which has a detailed obituary. Among the long list of other well-known movies are What’s Up, Doc? (1972) and Paper Moon (1973). Variety has this to say on his subsequent career: "In ensuing years, Bogdanovich would enjoy intermittent success. Every critically heralded film like Mask (1985) or Cat’s Meow (2001) would be matched by a perceived failure, like Texasville (1990), a sequel to The Last Picture Show, and Illegally Yours (1988), a comedy of mistaken identity."

Bogdanovich was no stranger to controversy. He famously began an affair with actress Cybill Shepherd, who made her feature-film debut in The Last Picture Show, an entanglement that led to the breakup of his marriage. He also had an affair with Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten in 1980 while directing her in They All Laughed. She was later murdered by her husband, who also killed himself. A few years later, Bogdanovich wrote the book The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten 1960-1980, in which he laid the bulk of the blame for her death on Hugh Hefner and his "Playboy sex factory." As the AP notes, Bogdanovich married Stratten's sister, Louise, 29 years his junior.

Bogdanovich, who was born in Kingston, New York, actually started out as a film critic and journalist. The AP describes his path to directing: He was "working as a film programmer at the Museum of Modern Art, where through a series of retrospectives he endeared himself to a host of old guard filmmakers including Orson Welles, Howard Hawks and John Ford." He also dabbled in acting: Fans of the Sopranos might remember him for his portrayal of a psychotherapist. (Dr. Melfi was his patient.)

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