William Goldman, noted Jewish-American script-writer, dies at 87

Goldman attained commercial and critical sucess by creating films like 'Princess Bride’ and ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,’

By JTA
November 17, 2018 07:44
2 minute read.
William Goldman, noted Jewish-American script-writer, dies at 87

Mandy Patinkin in the role of Inigo Montoya in the 1987 film 'Princess Bride' . (photo credit: YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)

 
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William Goldman, a novelist and screenwriter who twice won the Oscars for his work on “All the President’s Men” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” died at the age of 87.

Goldman, who was Jewish, passed away Thursday night in his Manhattan home, surrounded by family and friends at the age of 87, friends of his family told Deadline.

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Goldman began his writing career as a novelist and later transitioned to writing scripts. As a novelist, Goldman wrote the critically-acclaimed “Marathon Man” and “The Princess Bride,” among others.


He adapted his 1973 adult fairy tale "The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure" (1973) for the successful, and enduringly popular, 1987 film. (There was no S. Morgenstern classic tale; that was just a conceit, which he also used in a later work, "The Silent Gondoliers").

The film, a tongue-in-cheek adventure movie did only middling box office in its theatrical run, but became a cult favorite on video. Lines such as "Never go in against a Sicilian when DEATH is on the line," and "as you wish" became fan favorites and entered the popular lexicon.



Several nonfiction efforts also achieved popularity, especially 1983's straightforward and astute account of the movie business "Adventures in the Screen Trade." It became a bestseller. Later in the decade he collaborated with sports writer Mike Lupica on "Wait Till Next Year," which looked at 1987's baseball, football and basketball seasons. In 1990 came "Hype and Glory," an account of Goldman's experiences as a judge for the Cannes Film Festival and the Miss America Pageant.



Though his later work couldn't match the verve and promise of "Butch Cassidy," a 1990 adaptation of Stephen King's novel "Misery" was an exception. The thriller stared James Caan as a novelist imprisoned by his number one fan, Kathy Bates. The actress won an Oscar for her work and fifteen years later, Goldman adapted "Misery" for the Broadway stage in a production starring Bruce Willis. Other Goldman efforts such as "Year of the Comet," "Memoirs of an Invisible Man," "Chaplin," and "The Chamber" were a mixed bag commercially and artistically.

His first film script was “Masquerade” in 1965. Some of his other notable film credits include “Misery” (adapted from the Stephen King novel) and “The Stepford Wives (adapted from the Ira Levin novel).

Goldman was born in Chicago and grew up in the suburb of Highland Park, Illinois.

He was married to photographer Ilene Jones from 1961 until their divorce in 1991. They had two daughters, Jenny and Susanna.

Reuters contributed to this article.


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