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William Goldman (1931 – 2018), Academy Award-winning screenwriter

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Wrote novel and screenplay for “The Princess Bride”

William Goldman (1931 – 2018) was the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969) and “All the President's Men” (1976). His enduring creations also include “The Princess Bride,” the 1973 novel that Goldman both wrote and adapted for the 1987 cult classic film.

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Died: Friday, November 16, 2018 (Who else died on November 16?)

Details of death: Died in Manhattan of colon cancer and pneumonia at the age of 87.


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The Princess Bride: Goldman's classic tale of adventure and true love was born as a story for his young daughters. One had requested a story about a princess and the other wanted to hear about a bride – and so he combined the two, making up “silly names” like Buttercup and Humperdinck to amuse the girls. 

The story stuck with Goldman until he decided to write it into a novel, but he struggled with it until he made one unusual decision: He would write it as an “abridged” version of an imaginary longer novel by the made-up author S. Morgenstern. Goldman went on to extend the joke by writing a second novel under the name S. Morgenstern, 1983's “The Silent Gondoliers.”

Notable quotes: “Nobody knows anything. Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess – and, if you're lucky, an educated one.” —from his 1983 book Adventures in the Screen Trade

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” —The Princess Bride

What people said about him: “Bill was a consummate storyteller whose tales touched millions and will endure as pinnacles of the art form. Having worked with him for many years, I can attest that his brilliant and inventive work seemed to defy his own suggestion that 'nobody knows anything' in movies.” —Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios

 “It's no small feat to be a smart, witty writer and smart and witty about writing. RIP the legendary adventurer in screenwriting, William Goldman.” —Edgar Wright, director and screenwriter

 “I was lucky as hell to count Bill as a mentor and a friend. Check his credits & see a William Goldman movie or read a Goldman book over the holiday & give thanks that we had his voice in the world.” —Ron Howard, filmmaker and actor

Full obituary: New York Times

Related lives:

 - Paul Newman (1925 - 2008), star of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”

 - Laurence Olivier (1907 - 1989), star of “Marathon Man”

 - Andre the Giant (1943 - 1993), star of “The Princess Bride”