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Peter Bogdanovich (born July 30, 1939) is an American film historian, director, writer, actor, producer, and critic. He was part of the wave of "New Hollywood" directors, which included William Friedkin, Brian DePalma, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Michael Cimino, and Francis Ford Coppola. His most critically acclaimed film is The Last Picture Show (1971).

Early life

The son of immigrants fleeing the Nazis - his father, Borislav Bogdanovich, is a Serbianmarker painter and pianist and his mother, Herma Bogdanovich, descended from a rich Austrianmarker Jewish family - Bogdanovich was conceived in Europe but born in America. He was an actor in the 1950s, studying his craft with acting teacher Stella Adler (he was only 16 but lied about his age and said he was 18 to qualify), and appeared on television and in summer stock. In the early 1960s, Bogdanovich was known as a film programmer at the Museum of Modern Artmarker in New York Citymarker. An obsessive cinema-goer, seeing up to 400 movies a year in his youth, Bogdanovich showcased the work of American directors such as Orson Welles and John Ford, whom he later wrote a book about based on the notes he had produced for the MoMA retrospective of the director, and Howard Hawks. Bogdanovich also brought attention to such forgotten pioneers of American cinema as Allan Dwan.

Bogdanovich was influenced by the Frenchmarker critics of the 1950s who wrote for Cahiers du Cinéma, especially critic-turned-director François Truffaut. Before becoming a director himself, he built his reputation as a film writer with articles in Esquire. These articles were collected in Pieces of Time (1973). In 1968, following the example of Cahiers du Cinéma critics Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, and Éric Rohmer who had created the Nouvelle Vague ("New Wave") by making their own films, Bogdanovich decided to become a director. With his wife Polly Platt, he headed for Los Angelesmarker, skipping out on the rent in the process. Intent on breaking into the industry, Bogdanovich would ask publicists for movie premiere and industry party invitations. At one screening, Bogdanovich was viewing a film and director Roger Corman was sitting behind him. The two struck up a conversation when Corman mentioned he liked a cinema piece Bogdanovich wrote for Esquire. Corman offered him a directing job which Bogdanovich accepted immediately. He worked with Corman on Targets, which starred Boris Karloff, and Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women, under the pseudonym Derek Thomas. Bogdanovich later said of the Corman school of filmmaking, "I went from getting the laundry to directing the picture in three weeks. Altogether, I worked 22 weeks – preproduction, shooting, second unit, cutting, dubbing – I haven't learned as much since."

Returning to journalism, Bogdanovich struck up a life-long friendship with Orson Welles while interviewing him on the set of Mike Nichols's Catch-22 (1970). Bogdanovich played a major role in elucidating Welles and his career with his writings on the actor-director, most notably his book This is Orson Welles (1992). In the early 1970s, when Welles was having financial problems, Bogdanovich let him stay at his Bel Air mansion for a couple of years.

In 1970, Bogdanovich was commissioned by the American Film Institute to direct a documentary about John Ford for their tribute, Directed by John Ford (1971). The resulting film included candid interviews with the likes of John Wayne, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, and was narrated by Orson Welles. Out of circulation for years due to licensing issues, Bogdanovich and TCM released it in 2006, featuring newer, pristine film clips, and additional interviews with Clint Eastwood, Walter Hill, Harry Carey, Jr., Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and others.

Emergence as a Director

The 32-year old Bogdanovich was hailed by a critics as a "Wellesian" wunderkind when his best received film, The Last Picture Show, was released in 1971. The film gained eight Academy Awards nominations, including Best Director, and won two statues: Cloris Leachman and Ben Johnson in the supporting acting categories. Bogdanovich also co-wrote the screenplay with Larry McMurtry. The screenplay won a BAFTA award in 1971 for Best Screenplay. Bogdanovich, who had cast the 21-year-old model Cybill Shepherd in a major role in the film, fell in love with her, an affair that eventually led to his divorce from Polly Platt, his long-time artistic collaborator and the mother of his two daughters.

Bogdanovich followed up The Last Picture Show with the popular hit comedy What's Up, Doc? (1972) starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal, a screwball comedy indebted to Hawks' Bringing Up Baby (1938) and His Girl Friday (1940). Despite his reliance on homage to bygone cinema, Bogdanovich had solidified his status as one of a new breed of A-list directors that included Academy Award winners Francis Ford Coppola and William Friedkin, with whom he formed The Directors Company. The Directors Company was a generous production deal with Paramount Pictures that essentially gave the directors carte blanche, if they kept within budget limitations. It was through this entity that Bogdanovich's Paper Moon (1973) was produced.

Paper Moon, a Depression-era comedy starring Ryan O'Neal that won his 10-year-old daughter Tatum O'Neal an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress, proved to be the high-water mark of Bogdanovich's career. Forced to share the profits with his fellow directors, Bogdanovich became dissatisfied with the arrangement. The Directors Company subsequently produced only two more pictures, Coppola's The Conversation (1974), which was nominated for Best Picture in 1974 alongside The Godfather, Part II (1974), and Bogdanovich's Daisy Miller, a film that had a lackluster critical reception.

Later Years

Bogdanovich turned back to writing as his directorial career sagged, beginning with a memoir of his dead love, The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten (1960–1980) that was published in 1984. Teresa Carpenter's "Death of a Playmate" article about Stratten's murder had been published in The Village Voice, and had won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize. While Bogdanovich never criticized Carpenter's article in his book, she had lambasted Bogdanovich and Hefner, claiming that Stratten was as much a victim of them as she was of Snider. In particular she criticized Bogdanovich for his "puerile preference for ingenues". Carpenter's article served as the basis of Bob Fosse's film Star 80 (1983), in which Bogdanovich, for legal reasons, was portrayed as the fictional director "Aram Nicholas," a sympathetic but possibly misguided and naive character.

On December 30, 1988, 49-year-old Bogdanovich married then 20-year-old Louise Stratten, the younger sister of Dorothy Stratten, whom he had begun dating a few years after Dorothy's death. The couple divorced in 2001.

Though he achieved huge success with Mask (1985), Bogdanovich's sequel to The Last Picture Show, Texasville (1990), was a critical and box office disappointment. Both films occasioned major disputes between Bogdanovich, who still demanded a measure of control over his films, and the studios, which now exerted control over the finance and final cut of both films. Mask was released with a song score by Bob Seger against Bogdanovich's wishes (he favored Bruce Springsteen), and Bogdanovich has often complained that the version of Texasville that was released was not the film he had intended to release. A director's cut of Mask, slightly longer and with the songs of Springsteen, was belatedly released on DVD in 2006. A director's cut of Texasville was released on laserdisc, though it has never been released on DVD. Around the time of the release of Texasville, Bogdanovich also re-visited his earliest success, The Last Picture Show, and produced a slightly modified director's cut. Since that time, his re-cut has been the only available version of the film.

Bogdanovich directed two more theatrical films in 1992 and 1993, but their failure kept him off the big screen for several years. One, Noises Off..., based on the Michael Frayn play, has subsequently developed a strong cult following, while the other, The Thing Called Love, is better known as one of actor River Phoenix's last roles before an untimely drug-related death.

Bogdanovich, drawing from his encyclopedic knowledge of film history, authored several critically lauded books including Peter Bogdanovich's Movie of the Week, which offered the lifelong cinephile's commentary on 52 of his favorite films; and Who The Devil Made It: Conversations with Legendary Film Directors and Who the Hell's in It: Conversations with Hollywood's Legendary Actors, both based on interviews conducted in the past with directors and actors.

In 2001, Bogdanovich resurfaced with The Cat's Meow. Returning once again to a reworking of the past, this time the supposed murder of director Thomas Ince by Welles' bête noire William Randolph Hearst, The Cat's Meow was a modest critical success but made little money at the box office. Bogdanovich says he was told the story of the alleged Ince murder from Welles who in turn said he heard it from writer Charles Lederer.

In addition to directing some television work, Bogdanovich has returned to acting with a recurring guest role on the cable television series The Sopranos playing Dr. Melfi's psychotherapist. Bogdanovich directed a fifth season episode of the series. In an homage to his Sopranos character, he also voiced the analyst of Bart Simpson's therapist in an episode of The Simpsons.

Bogdanovich hosted The Essentials on Turner Classic Movies, but was replaced in May 2006 by TCM host Robert Osborne and film critic Molly Haskell. Bogdanovich is also frequently featured in introductions to movies on Criterion Collection DVDs. He has also had a supporting role as a fictional version of himself in the Showtime comedy series Out of Order. He will next appear in The Dream Factory.

In 2006, Bogdanovich joined forces with ClickStar, where he hosts a classic movie channel, Peter Bogdanovich's Golden Age of Movies. Bodganovich also writes a blog for the site. In 2006 he appeared in the documentary Wanderlust.

In 2007, Bogdanovich was presented with an award for outstanding contribution to film preservation by The International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) at the Toronto International Film Festivalmarker. The same year, Bogdanovich was sued by Iaroslav Jivov, a Canadian businessman, for breach of contract. Jiviov's suit alleged that Bogdonavich took $100,000 as a fee for allowing Jivov's son to work as an assistant on Bogdanovich's next film, but failed to live up to his side of the deal.

In 1998, the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congressmarker named The Last Picture Show to the National Film Registry, an honor awarded only to culturally significant films.


Directing Credits

Acting Credits


  • Peter Bogdanovich "The Cinema of Orson Welles" (1961)
  • Peter Bogdanovich "The Cinema of Howard Hawks" (1962)
  • Peter Bogdanovich "The Cinema of Alfred Hitchcock" (1963)
  • Peter Bogdanovich "John Ford" (1967; expanded 1978)
  • Peter Bogdanovich "Fritz Lang in America" (1969)
  • Peter Bogdanovich "Allan Dwan: The Last Pioneer" (1970)
  • Peter Bogdanovich "Pieces of Time" (1973; expanded 1985)
  • Peter Bogdanovich The Killing Of The Unicorn - Dorothy Stratten 1960-1980. William Morrow and Company 1984. ISBN 0-688-01611-1.
  • Peter Bogdanovich This Is Orson Welles. HarperPerennial 1992. ISBN 0-06-092439-X.
  • Peter Bogdanovich A Moment with Miss Gish. Santa Barbara : Santa Teresa Press, 1995. WorldCat.
  • Peter Bogdanovich Who The Devil Made It: Conversations with Legendary Film Directors. Alfred A. Knopf, 1997. ISBN 0679447067.
  • Peter Bogdanovich Peter Bogdanovich's Movie of the Week. 1999.
  • Peter Bogdanovich Who the Hell's in It: Conversations with Hollywood's Legendary Actors. Alfred A. Knopf, 2004. ISBN 0375400109.


  1. "What They Learned From Roger Corman", by Beverly Gray, Moviemaker Magazine, Spring 2001, retrieved April 29, 2006
  2. Interview with Peter Bogdanovich from March 9, 2008
  4. "TIFF '07 - Films & Schedules La Grand Illusion:", by Sylvia Frank, Toronto International Film Festival Guide, September 2007, retrieved September 09, 2007
  5. "Director's "Cut" Was $100,000" The Smoking Gun, March 16, 2007

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