William Goldman, the playwright, screenwriter, and novelist whose prolific body of film work includes the Oscar-winning pictures Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All The President’s Men in addition to Misery, Marathon Man, A Bridge Too Far, and his beloved adventure The Princess Bride, has died at age 87 in Manhattan. The new was confirmed by his daughter Jenny.
A scrupulous and observant writer, whose works were infused with authenticity—no matter the subject or medium—Mr. Goldman could be both unforgiving and revolutionary.
Mr. Goldman earned Oscars for the 1969 Western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and his bombshell 1976 account of the Watergate Scandal, All The President’s Men. But he was beloved by generations young and old for his romantic fantasy adventure The Princess Pride.
The 1973 work is masterfully crafted as a novel within a novel. The self-aware literary framing device in which the narrator addresses the reader, skipping past “boring moments” and injecting idiosyncratic asides as he recounts the romantic adventure of Princess Buttercup and Westley.
Goldman adapted the novel for Rob Reiner's 1987 film adaptation, which introduced The Princess Bride to an even broader audience, showcasing the work of prominent theatre actors, including Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya. In the three decades since its premiere, the film has taken its place as a modern fairy tale classic.
Prior to his work on screen, however, Mr. Goldman cut his teeth as a writer for the stage, penning the 1961 Broadway play Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole and the book and score for A Family Affair (which played Broadway the same season), co-written with his brother James and John Kander. He returned to Broadway in 2015, penning the Bruce Willis- and Laurie Metcalf-led stage version of Misery (having already adapted Stephen King's novel for the screen).
While Hollywood brought Goldman financial security and established him as one of the most in-demand and successful screenwriters of his era, it was his groundbreaking 1969 publication The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway, an all-access account of the 1967–1968 Broadway season that shed light on the insider world of commercial theatre. The deeply researched tome is filled with insights on box office figures, the nuances of the Broadway business model, the politics of coveted theatrical real-estate, and an direct (if divisive) assessment of the artists of the era.
The Season is a theatrical must-read. A precursor to the world of Smash, it served as the inspiration for Broadway producer Dori Berinstein’s 2003 documentary film ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway, which followed the high-profile 2003–2004 season by capturing the arrival of Wicked, Avenue Q, Taboo, and Caroline, or Change.