William Goldman, acclaimed author, screenwriter, raconteur, and chronicler of Broadway theater and Hollywood passed away yesterday at the age of 87. Goldman had a fascinating life and career, writing screenplays for classic movies in a broad array of genres, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and All the President’s Men (1976), for which he won Academy Awards, The Stepford Wives (1975), A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Misery (1990). He also wrote the novel Marathon Man and the screenplay for the 1976 movie version starring Dustin Hoffman, Roy Scheider, and Laurence Olivier.
He is perhaps best known, though, for writing The Princess Bride, which was first published in 1973 and remains one of the most beloved stories of the last century. The movie version based on Goldman’s screenplay was directed and produced by Rob Reiner in 1987, and is easily one of the most delightful, most quotable, and most iconic comedy films of all time. If you’ve seen the movie and haven’t read the original novel, however, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy: Goldman’s writing, and his humor and intelligence, are worth experiencing firsthand. It’s an incredible book.
Born in Chicago in 1931, Goldman spent most of his life in New York, starting out as a novelist before his run as a sought-after screenwriter. In addition to his many fictional works, he also produced some rollicking non-fiction, such as The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway (1969) and 1983’s acerbic, often hilarious Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting. He was a gifted, funny, insightful writer who clearly cared deeply about the act of storytelling and the bonds it creates; he had a legendary career, and will be profoundly missed.