Oscar-Winning Screenwriter Robert Towne, Passes Away At Age 89

(NewsReady.com) – Robert Towne, best known for his work on the award-winning 1974 movie “Chinatown,” has died. Towne was a legend in Hollywood for his ability to write complex and compelling scripts, Later in life, he also built a reputation for reviving weaker scripts from other writers.

Robert Towne was born Robert Bertram Schwartz in Los Angeles on November 23, 1934. His family was Jewish, with Romanian and Russian ancestry, and his parents both ran their own businesses. Towne was determined to work in the movie industry, and after graduating from college, he started looking for work as both a writer and actor. He soon found an opportunity, working with famed B-movie producer Roger Corman. He joined one of Corman’s acting classes, along with his roommate Jack Nicholson, and won lead roles in two Corman movies. However, he soon realized his talent lay more with writing, and started producing scripts for popular TV shows including “The Outer Limits” and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

It wasn’t long before Corman started calling on Towne to write scripts for him, and one of those—1967’s “A Time for”Killing”—started attracting attention from other Hollywood figures. Warren Beatty asked him to fix the script for “Bonnie and Clyde,” which he did and the movie ended up being a huge success. That gave Towne a reputation as a “script doctor,” an expert writer called in to rework an unsatisfactory storyline. Some of Hollywood’s biggest classics benefited from Towne’s repair work, including a rewrite of the final scene of “The Godfather.” Towne’s greatest achievement, though, was probably the script for the 1974 hit “Chinatown.” Many movie critics have praised the movie for its “perfect” script.

Later in life, Towne often struggled with illness and gradually stopped writing original works, focusing on script doctoring instead. He died at his Los Angeles home on July 1, leaving behind his wife, two daughters, and his brother.

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