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By JAMIE STENGLE Associated Press
DALLAS (AP) — Larry McMurtry, the prolific and popular author who took readers back to the old American West in his Pulitzer Prize-winning “Lonesome Dove” and returned them to modern-day landscapes in works such as his emotional tale of a mother-daughter relationship in “Terms of Endearment,” has died. He was 84.
McMurtry died Thursday night of heart failure, according to a family statement issued through a publicist on Friday. The statement did not say where he died but noted that he’ll be buried “in his cherished home state of Texas.”
McMurtry, who had in his later years split his time between his small Texas hometown of Archer City and Tucson, Arizona, wrote dozens of books, including novels, biographies and essay collections. He simultaneously worked as a bookseller and screenwriter, co-writing the Oscar-winning script for the movie “Brokeback Mountain.”
Several of McMurtry’s books became feature films, including the Oscar-winners “The Last Picture Show” and “Terms of Endearment.” His epic 1986 Pulitzer winner “Lonesome Dove,” about a cattle drive from Texas across the Great Plains during the 1870s, was made into a popular television miniseries.
“’Lonesome Dove’ was an effort to kind of demythologize the myth of the Old West,” McMurtry told The Associated Press in a 2014 interview. But, he added, “They’re going to twist it into something romantic no matter what you do.”
The “Lonesome Dove” television miniseries starred Robert Duvall, who has often cited the project as a personal favorite and likened his role as retired Texas Ranger Augustus McCrae to acting in “Hamlet.”
In a handwritten note from Duvall, texted to The Associated Press by his agent on Friday, the actor said McMurtry “was one of our most gifted of writers and one to be truly missed and revered.”
“Being in the TV series ‘Lonesome Dove’ was the highlight of my life and for this I owe him great amounts of gratitude. His works reached out and blessed so many!” Duvall wrote.
“The Last Picture Show,” his third novel, became a classic with its coming-of-age story set in a small Texas town. He and director Peter Bogdanovich were nominated for an Academy Award for their script for the movie, filmed in Archer City, located about 140 miles (225 kilometers) northwest of Dallas. The film adaptation of “Terms of Endearment,” released in 1983, was written and directed by James L. Brooks and received Oscars for best picture, director and screenplay, with awards for star Shirley MacLaine and supporting actor Jack Nicholson.
“Sitting here thinking of the greatness of Larry McMurtry,” Brooks tweeted Friday. “Among the best writers ever. I remember when he sent me on my way to adapt “Terms” — his refusal to let me hold him in awe. And the fact that he was personally working the cash register of his rare book store as he did so.”