Robert Towne, Oscar-winning screenwriter of Chinatown and other classics, dead at 89

Robert Towne. Image credit: X/@52Variables

CMEDIA: The Oscar-winning screenplay writer of ShampooThe Last Detail and other acclaimed films, Robert Towne, died Monday surrounded by family at his home there, publicist Carri McClure reportedly said.

Robert’s work on Chinatown became a model of the art form and helped define the jaded allure of his native Los Angeles, 

She declined to comment on any cause of death.

Towne for a time held prestige comparable to the actors and directors he worked with.

His friendships with two of the biggest stars of the 1960s and ’70s, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson enabled Towne to write or co-write some of the signature films of an era which brought a highly personal and influential vision of Los Angeles onto the screen.

“It’s a city that’s so illusory,” Towne reported telling The Associated Press in a 2006 interview. “It’s the westernmost west of America. It’s a sort of place of last resort…people go to make their dreams come true. And they’re forever disappointed.”

Towne won an Academy Award for Chinatown and was nominated three other times, for The Last DetailShampoo and Greystroke. In 1997, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Writers Guild of America.

After a long stretch of working in television, including The Man from U.N.C.L.E and The Lloyd Bridges Show, and on low-budget movies for “B” producer Roger Corman he atlast saw success.

For years he was a favourite ghost writer helping out on The Godfather and Heaven Can Wait among others and referred to himself as a “relief pitcher who could come in for an inning, not pitch the whole game.”

Towne was credited for Nicholson’s macho The Last Detail and Beatty’s sex comedy Shampoo, and was immortalized by Chinatown, the 1974 thriller set during the Great Depression.