William Goldman, the brilliant mind behind Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men and The Princess Bride has died today. He was 87.
Born in Illinois in 1931, Goldman was a prolific writer who excelled in every medium: he was a playwright, a memoirist, and a screenwriter, though his first career was as a novelist. He published The Temple of Gold in 1957, which launched his career as a writer (in fact, he admits that if the first publisher he sent his manuscript to hadn’t accepted it, he would not have been a writer; so thank you, Knopf).
He became an established screenwriter in 1966 with Harper, for which he received an Edgar Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay. His first original screenplay, however, was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which earned Goldman an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1969. Goldman also wrote The Princess Bride, which he later adapted into a screenplay.
Finally came All the President’s Men, a political thriller about the Watergate scandal. While Goldman was lukewarm on the film, it received nearly universal praise and earned an avalanche of award nominations, including an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, for which Goldman won.
While he continued to work with Hollywood, Goldman began writing memoirs and essays later in life, often exploring Hollywood life and work. Three of Goldman’s scripts have been interred in the Writers’ Guild of America’s 101 Greatest Screenplays list, and All the President’s Men is now preserved in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, which accepts works only if they are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
Essentially, if you can read, chances are you’ve come across William Goldman’s work. Maybe you were thrilled by his political tales, or perhaps spellbound by his fantasy stories. Either way, it’s difficult not to be enthralled by the tales he weaves. His legacy is one of hard work and incredible talent, and the world is a little dimmer without him.