Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Passing of a Legend

I was saddened to learn last night of the passing of Horton Foote, the two-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter, playwright and Pulitzer Prize winner, yesterday in Hartford, Connecticut, ten days short of his 93rd birthday.

Mr. Foote gained worldwide fame for winning the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for "To Kill a Mockingbird" in 1962. He had previously had his plays adapted for Broadway, Off-Broadway and many regional theaters back to the 1940s, and won a second Best Screenplay Oscar for the 1983 film "Tender Mercies", which also won the Best Picture Oscar and Best Actor for Robert Duvall.

Mr. Foote was born in Texas in 1916, and his wrote his first play, "Wharton Dance," in 1940. He was a very profilic writer, as he wrote nearly 50 plays, his last being "The Carpetbagger's Children" in 2001. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for "The Young Man From Atlanta" which was nominated for Best Play Tony Award in 1997, but did not win.

Mr. Foote also lent his voice to Ken Burns' epic documentary series "The Civil War" as Jefferson Davis. He was nominated for another Best Screenplay Oscar for 1985's "A Trip to Bountiful", which won a Best Actress Oscar for Geraldine Page. Unfortunately, Mr. Foote did not win the Oscar. Here is the New York Times article on Mr. Foote's passing.

I never met Mr. Foote, who was a beloved man by all who knew him. But over the last five years, I have come to know and become friends with his son Horton, Jr. Horton and I met at the Riviera watching the Red Sox games, as he is as big a Red Sox fan as I am. We were together for both Red Sox World Series wins in 2004 and 2007, and I have frequented his restaurant, the terrific Tavern on Jane on Jane Street in the West Village, on many occasions. Horton is simply one of the nicer human beings you could ever want to meet.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Foote family on the passing of their beloved father. He was a towering legend in the literary world and will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

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