William Goldman, Butch Cassidy screenwriter, dies at 87


William Goldman in 2003

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William Goldman, screenwriter of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men, has died aged 87.

Goldman, who received Oscars for both of those films, also wrote Marathon Man, Magic and The Princess Bride, which he adapted from his own novels.

His memoir Adventures in the Screen Trade is famous for his memorable declaration that “nobody knows anything” about the movie business.

He was also a noted “script doctor” who worked uncredited on many features.

Born in Highland Park, Illinois in 1931, Goldman started out as a novelist before breaking into movies with 1965 spy caper Masquerade.

He followed that with The Moving Target, also known as Harper, in which Paul Newman played a laconic private eye.

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Robert Redford and Paul Newman played the title characters in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Newman would go on to star in Butch Cassidy with Robert Redford, who himself went on to star with Dustin Hoffman in All the President’s Men.

Goldman was much praised for his dramatisation of the Washington Post’s investigations into the Watergate affair.

Disagreements during its production, however, would later see him express a wish he had never taken on the project.

“If you were to ask me ‘What would you change if you had your movie life to live over?’ I’d tell you that I’d have written exactly the screenplays I’ve written,” he wrote in Adventures in the Screen Trade.

“Only I wouldn’t have come near All the President’s Men.”

Giants, swordsmen and pirates

Goldman’s other films include World War II epic A Bridge Too Far, the Stephen King adaptation Misery and the Clint Eastwood thriller Absolute Power.

For many, though, he will be best remembered for The Princess Bride, a part-parodic fairy tale set in a world of giants, swordsmen and pirates.

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Cary Elwes and Robin Wright played ‘Westley’ and ‘Buttercup’ in The Princess Bride

Thirty years on, actor Mandy Patinkin is still regularly asked to recite the “My name is Inigo Montoya” speech Goldman wrote for him.

Goldman, who died on Friday at his New York home, is understood to have been in poor health for some time.

His daughter Jenny Goldman confirmed his death to the Washington Post, citing complications from colon cancer and pneumonia as the cause.

Mia Farrow, Ben Stiller, Michael Sheen and director Ron Howard were among many to pay tribute.

Others have marked his passing by remembering some of the iconic dialogue he created.

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