ARCHER, TX (CelebrityAccess) — Larry McMurtry, the prolific author who wrote books such as the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Lonesome Dove” and “Terms of Endearment,” has died. He was 84.
McMurtry died Thursday night of heart failure, according to a statement issued by his family through his publicist.
Over the course of his long career, McMurtry penned twenty-nine novels, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays.
McMurtry is best known as the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, which McMurtry used to demythologize the American Old West. The book, which McMurtry later developed into a series, told the story of a pair of retired Texas rangers who drive a herd of cattle from Texas to Montana in the fading days of the American frontier.
The series, which showcased McMurty’s flair for evocative imagery and distinctive dialogue, was a sharp counterpoint to the established traditions of western genre fiction that romanticized life on the frontier.
The series, which began as a prospective screenplay for Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne before becoming a novel, was later translated into a popular television miniseries that starred Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones.
While he was known for his westerns, McMurtry also wrote about the modern world, including his novel “Terms of Endearment” which explored the emotional intricacies of the relationship between a controlling mother and her daughter.
The novel was adapted for the big screen, starring Debra Winger, Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Jeff Daniels, and John Lithgow, winning Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (for MacLaine), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor (for Nicholson) in 1983.
McMurtry also won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film “Brokeback Mountain,” which McMurtry and his writing partner Diana Ossana developed into a script from a short story by author Annie Proulx.
Born in Archer, Texas, in 1936, McMurtry grew up on a ranch where he experienced elements of the western life that would later inform his writing.
He attended Stanford, Texas Christian University, and Rice University, where he served as a lecturer in English until 1969.
Even after he became a successful author, McMurtry continued to live in Archer, splitting his time between his hometown and Tucson, Arizona.
Along with his career as an author, McMurtry was also an antiquarian bookseller, and during a stay in Washington D.C., he opened a bookshop in Georgetown. In 1988, he opened Booked Up in Archer City, which grew to become one of the largest used bookstores in the U.S. 400,000 and 450,000 titles.
McMurtry married Jo Ballard in 1959 and the couple had one son – singer-songwriter James McMurtry – before divorcing in 1966. McMurtry married again in 2011 to Norma Faye Kesey, the widow of author and longtime friend Ken Kesey, who McMurtry met while attending Stanford.
He also is survived by his sisters, Sue and Judy, and a brother, Charlie.