An astute film critic
who wrote incisive biographies on Alfred Hitchcock
and Francois Truffaut
, Peter Bogdanovich (born July 30, 1939, in Kingston, New York) suddenly found himself living his wannabe a director
dream when his 1971 black and white European-style character study The Last Picture Show
slingshotted him into the Hollywood
For a while there Bogdanovich could do no wrong. He began a torrid romance with the film's cool blonde covergirl star, a very young Cybill Shepherd, and in rapid succession turned out What's Up, Doc?, and Paper Moon.
By 1974 however, his career started to cool. Daisy Miller, with the miscast Shepherd, and the 20th Century Fox musical At Long Last Love, with the miscast Burt Reynolds and Shepherd, were both disasters and the Hollywood vultures could be seen licking their chops in the hills of Beverly.
Nobody who makes it in Hollywood does so without enormous drive, however, and Bogdanovich fought back with the best film of his career, Saint Jack in 1979. The story of a pimp at the end of his rope in Singapore starring the always-interesting Ben Gazarra, Saint Jack was a last defiant cry from the director before his life began to spin crazily out of control.
He fell in love with Dorothy Stratten, the young star of his next film, They All Laughed, who also happened to be a Playboy Playmate of the Year. Stratten had her head blown off by her jealous estranged husband/manager, Paul Snider, who then proceeded to have sex with her corpse. That scene and everything preceeding and following it can be seen in Bob Fosse's final film, the brilliant Star 80, released in 1983.
Bogdanovich didn't work for a few years, then followed up with Mask, a not-uninteresting character study starring Cher, in 1985. But the personal and professional demons were afoot.
They All Laughed bankrupted him, he fell in love with Stratten's underage sister, Louise, and after a few more so-so features, embarked on a long series of TV movies, including To Sir With Love 2 in 1996.
Out of love, and a no-doubt mutual desire to heal the pain, Bogdanovich and Louise Stratten married, and they remain happily together in his small apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. His career has taken another odd bounce of late since he can be seen playing Dr. Elliott Kupferberg, Tony Soprano's psychiatrist's psychiatrist in HBO's enormous hit series, The Sopranos.
Bogdanovich's critics never fail to relate the eerie similarities between his career and that of his mentor, Orson Welles. Welles, too, crashed and burned after a brilliant first film, the incomparable Citizen Kane. Like Welles, Bogdanovich also turned to acting (he was trained as an actor, incidentally) and has often played himself in films and on TV, just like Welles. The two men were best friends towards the end of Welles's life, and the great director even lived in Bogdanovich's mansion for a couple of years at one point, while he tried to finish his never-released The Other Side of the Wind, in which Bogdanovich has a major role.
Those same critics sneer at Bogdanovich's output since his salad days, but if you look him up on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com), you'll notice something very important: in the last ten years he hasn't stopped working. Peter Bogdanovich is an artist who loves his work. They may be little independent films or--gasp!--television, but Peter Bogdanovich has directed TEN movies since 1990, and acted in EIGHTEEN.
That is called survival, and it is, in the end, the only thing that really matters.
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