Robert Towne Dies at 89

( – For every famous actor that graces the movie screen, there are many more hands behind the scenes working to make sure they have good material to work with. Screenwriters, producers, and directors are just a few of the roles that take a film from good to great. One of the most revered screenwriters of the past few decades has sadly passed away.

On Monday, July 1, Robert Towne passed away at his home in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 89. His publicist, Carri McClure, confirmed his death but did not cite a cause.

Born Robert Bertram Schwartz on November 23, 1934, he had a blue-collar start before his father changed the family name to Towne and began a new career in real estate. The screenwriter first studied English and philosophy and graduated from Pomona College in 1956.

While attending the college, Towne met Jack Nicholson, whom he would go on to have a close friendship with for many years, until a falling out over a movie. His first love, however, from the age of 7, was movies, and that’s where he made his mark beginning in the 1960s.

The beginning of Towne’s writing career saw him working on shows like “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “The Outer Limits.” He then graduated to working on several movies, including “Chinatown,” which won him an Oscar. Towne was lauded for his ability to craft realistic, compelling dialogue between characters but was equally known for his penchant for missing deadlines. His skills were well coveted, and he was often hired as a script doctor to whip the screenwriting into shape. Some of his notorious, uncredited works include “The Godfather” and “Bonnie & Clyde.”

Towne produced most of his revered works in the 1970s, during the New Hollywood Age, which didn’t last long. He also appeared onscreen a few times and served as a director, but will forever be known as one of Hollywood’s greatest scriptwriters.

Towne is survived by his wife, Luisa, his two daughters, Chiara and Katharine, and his brother, Roger.

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