Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Horton Foote (1916-2009)

When screenwriter and playwright Horton Foote passed away at 92, he was working on a collection of nine plays in what he called "The Orphans' Home Cycle" which was to premiere at the Hartford Stage next September. Unfortunately, it took death to finally slow the prolific Texan down.

While he achieved acclaim and fame as a writer, Foote's dream originally was to become an actor when he left his Texas home and that's how he made his Broadway debut, as an actor in 1939. His Broadway debut as a playwright would come a mere five years later with Only the Heart in 1944. He continued sporadically writing plays, winning the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for The Young Man From Atlanta, which I was fortunate enough to see when it reached Broadway in 1997 earning Tony nominations for best play and the superb, brilliant and luminous Shirley Knight, featured actor William "Biff" Maguire but none for equally great co-star Rip Torn. Foote had a comedy, Dividing the Estate, which played this season until Jan. 4., whose ensemble included Elizabeth Ashley, Gerald McRaney and his own daughter, Hallie Foote. Perhaps his most famous Broadway play premiered in 1953. The Trip to Bountiful and starred none other than Lillian Gish. It won Jo Van Fleet a featured actress Tony. When it became a film in 1985, it won Geraldine Page an Oscar on her eighth try and gave Foote his third Oscar nomination for screenplay and the only time he lost. He won for adapting Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and for his original screenplay, 1983's Tender Mercies. He also wrote for television, especially when televised plays were common, and won a 1997 Emmy for adapting a William Faulkner novella into Old Man. He also wrote the 1992 film adaptation of Of Mice and Men starring Gary Sinise and John Malkovich.

RIP Mr. Foote.

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I was saddened by the news of Mr. Foote's passing. He was a very talented and entertaining writer.
He will be missed.
Condolences to his family and friends.
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