Peter Bogdanovich, ‘Sopranos’ Guest Star and New Hollywood Director, Dead at 82

by Liz Holland

Iconic director Peter Bogdanovich has passed away at the age of 82. 

Bogdanovich solidified his reputation as one of the most important filmmakers of his time during the New Hollywood era of the 1970s. He did so with his work on the films “The Last Picture Show” and “Paper Moon.” However, the drama of his personal life at times threatened to overshadow his career-related accomplishments in headlines. 

Bogdanovich received quite a bit of media attention when it was discovered he was involved with two leading ladies from his films. The director left his wife for one of them– and the other was a Playboy centerfold who was murdered by her husband. Despite the scandal surrounding him, Bogdanovich continued to direct, write, and even act as he aged. His work shapes him as a champion of old-school movie makers, and into an important figure in film history. 

One Peter Bogdanovich Project Earned 8 Academy Award Nominations

One of his most popular works, “The Last Picture Show,” earned Bogdanovich an impressive eight Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture. Nominations earned by the film also acknowledged the work Bogdanovich performed as both a writer and a director. 

The film kicked off several actors and actresses’ careers, including Jeff Bridges, Ellen Burstyn, and Cybill Shepherd. It was Shepherd that Bogdanovich later left his wife, Polly Platt, for. 

Shortly after the iconic movie opened, one writer, Stefan Kanfer, raved about the film in Time Magazine. Kanfer writes, “Bogdanovich, 31, has achieved a tactile sense of time and place. More, he has performed that most difficult of all cinematic feats: he has made ennui fascinating. Together, that is enough to herald him as possibly the most exciting new director in America today.”

Bogdanovich himself later said of the film, “It spoke to a lot of people. People have told me that it reminds them of their hometown, so I think it has a certain universality to it. Young love, and sex and all that, is pretty universal.”

The Man Behind Some Of the 70s Highest Grossing Films

The success of the film allowed Bogdanovich to hand pick his next project. The director went for “What’s up, Doc?”, a screwball comedy that was similar to projects directed by Bogdanovich’s own heroes. The film featured big names Barbara Streisand and Ryan O’Neal. Critic Michael Korda said that if the film “proves anything, it is that Peter Bogdanovich is perhaps the most inventive and original new director to rise from the ashes and ruins of Hollywood’s Gadarene rush into youth-exploitation films.” “What’s up, Doc?” performed as the third highest-grossing film of 1972, just behind “The Godfather” and “The Poseidon Adventure.”

Bogdanovich’s career continued to skyrocket from there. After his passing on Thursday, movie buffs online pay their respects. One Twitter user wrote of Bagdonovich’s death, “A seminal filmmaker and historian whose work has stood the test of time. This is a huge loss to his family, friends and cinema. R.I.P. Peter.”

Bogdanovich is survived by his two children, Antonia and Sashy. The children’s mother and Bogdanovich’s ex-wife, Polly Platt, passed away in 2011.