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Larry McMurtry, Western Novelist and Author of 'Lonesome Dove,' Dies at 84

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Larry McMurtry, the Texas-born author, essayist and screenwriter, who wrote Lonesome Dove, The Last Picture Show, Horseman, Pass By, Streets of Laredo, Leaving Cheyenne and many more beloved western novels, died on Thursday (March 25). He was 84.

The death was confirmed by Amanda Lundberg, a spokeswoman for the family.

In addition to over 30 novels, McMurtry also co-wrote the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain, for which he won an Academy Award. (McMurtry co-wrote the screenplay with Diana Ossana. Brokeback Mountain was based on a short story by Annie Proulx.)

The son of a rancher, McMurtry was born just outside of Wichita Falls in Archer City, Texas, which would become a model for much of his work.

In 1986, McMurtry won the Pulitzer Prize for Lonesome Dove, a novel about two retired Texas Rangers who drive a herd of stolen cattle from Texas to Montana.

McMurtry's work stood in contrast to many western novelists, such as Louis L'Amour, who romaticized the American West.

"I'm a critic of the myth of the cowboy,'' McMurtry said in 1988. "I don't feel that it's a myth that pertains, and since it's a part of my heritage I feel it's a legitimate task to criticize it.''

Several of McMurtry's novels were made into films and television. Horseman, Pass By was adapted into the Paul Newman film Hud, The Last Picture Show, a coming-of-age novel set in fictional Thalia, Texas (based on Archer City), was made into the 1971 film of the same name, starring Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd. Lonesome Dove was adapted into an Emmy-winning miniseries starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones.

McMurtry's 1975 novel Terms of Endearment was adapted into the 1983 comedy-drama of the same name, starring Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger.

McMurtry spent much of his life in his hometown of Archer City, where he opened a book store called Booked Up.

McMurtry married Josephine Ballard in 1959. They had one son together, singer-songwriter James McMurtry. In 1966, the couple divorced. In 2011, McMurtry married Faye Kesey in a ceremony at his Archer City bookstore.

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Larry McMurtry, Western Novelist and Author of 'Lonesome Dove,' Dies at 84