Screenwriter Bo Goldman, who won Oscars for scripting One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Melvin and Howard, died on Tuesday in Helendale, California. His son-in-law, director Todd Field, confirmed his passing to the New York Times. Goldman was 90.
Robert "Bo" Goldman was born on Sept. 10, 1932, in New York City. He developed a passion for writing as part of Princeton University's theater troupe, The Princeton Triangle Club, and briefly worked as a Broadway lyricist in the late 1950s. Goldman completed his first screenplay, Shoot the Moon, in 1971, although it wouldn't be produced for another decade.
In the meantime, it caught the eye of filmmaker Miloš Forman, who tapped the screenwriter to adapt Ken Kesey's novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The psychological drama starred Jack Nicholson as R.P. McMurphy, a new patient at a psychiatric ward who incites rebellion as he takes on the villainous Nurse Ratched (played by the late Louise Fletcher).
At the 1976 Academy Awards, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest won five Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director for Forman, Best Actor in a Leading Role for Nicholson, Best Actress in a Leading Role for Fletcher, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Goldman and Lawrence Hauben. "I loved writing this movie and it seems redundant to me to receive an award, when the only award I ever wanted was a chance to write a script like this," Goldman said in his acceptance speech.
He won his second Oscar — this time for Best Original Screenplay — in 1981 for Melvin and Howard, the Jonathan Demme-directed dramedy about the real-life gas station owner who claimed to inherit millions of dollars in Howard Hughes' will.
"Please forgive the litany of gratitude, but movies are made on faith and the studio's money. I'd like to thank my friend Ned Tanen for his deep pockets, Jonathan Demme for his good eye, Art Linson and Don Phillips for steering me to Gabbs, Nevada, and Melvin [Dummar] for sharing his life," Goldman said onstage at the 53rd Oscars.
"Tonight, I'm here for Melvin and Howard, but there are years in between for me and for all writers when there are no awards," he continued. "So tonight, I'd like to mention some men who've taught me a lot and whom I love: Phil Kaufman, Alan Parker, Mike Nichols and Miloš Forman. May I share this honor with my agent Arnold Stiefel, and my wife, Mab Ashforth, who urged me to write this movie, and I'm so glad I did."
Goldman received his third and final Oscar nomination for 1992's Scent of a Woman. The film received four Oscar nominations in total, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Goldman, with Al Pacino going on to win for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance as the irascible blind veteran Frank Slade. "I thank Bo Goldman, who wrote such a complicated, interesting, funny guy that could be and would be any actor's dream part," Pacino said while accepting his Oscar, which remains the only Oscar win in his illustrious career.
Shoot the Moon was ultimately made into a film in 1982, directed by Alan Parker and starring Albert Finney and Diane Keaton. Goldman also wrote the screenplays for The Rose (1979), Swing Shift (1984) and Meet Joe Black (1998), starring Oscar winners Brad Pitt and Sir Anthony Hopkins.
Goldman is survived by four daughters, a son, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.