Horton Foote, an appreciation
A playwright for the common man.
As a playwright, Horton Foote grappled with the great themes of human existence: love, despair, home, family, identity, redemption. And he often found them all in the lives of people in the little town of Harrison, Texas, the fictional setting for many of his works.Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Foote, who passed on March 4, spent seven decades as a playwright and screenwriter, penning more than 50 plays and films and winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1995 (for the play "The Young Man From Atlanta"), and Academy Awards in 1962 (for his screen adaptation of the Harper Lee novel "To Kill a Mockingbird") and 1983 (for his original screenplay "Tender Mercies"). He also wrote acclaimed television dramas, including "The Trip to Bountiful," which was later made into a film starring Geraldine Page, who received an Oscar for her role.
Born in Wharton, Texas, Foote skipped college and headed to New York to become an actor. His first play, "Wharton Dance," was produced in 1940. Early in his career a friend, the choreographer Agnes de Mille, urged him to write about his own experiences. Foote eventually produced nine plays centered on Harrison, Texas, which stood in for his hometown. He was in Hartford, Conn., preparing a production of a collection of his plays, "The Orphans' Home Cycle," at the time of his passing.
Across the years Foote's work kept its originality and freshness. "He's a very modern playwright," Michael Wilson, artistic director of the Hartford Stage Company, told this writer during a 2001 interview with The Christian Science Monitor. "Horton has such an authentic and truthful voice. There's not a false bone in his body. I don't think anybody loves theater more than he does, and his love of it keeps intensifying...."