Robert Towne

Screenwriter, Director, Actor
Despite four Oscar-nominated screenplays, writer Robert Towne owed much of his reputation to his prowess as a pinch hitter, earning considerable respect as one of Hollywood's preeminent script doctors on a wide array of ... Read more »
Born: 11/23/1934 in Los Angeles, California, USA

Filmography

Writer (23)

Ask the Dust 2006 (Movie)

(Adaptation) (Screenplay)

Mission: Impossible 2 2000 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Without Limits 1998 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Mission: Impossible 1996 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Love Affair 1994 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Firm 1993 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland 1992 (Movie)

story consultant (Story By)

Days of Thunder 1990 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Days of Thunder 1990 (Movie)

(From Story)

The Two Jakes 1990 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Two Jakes 1990 (Movie)

("Chinatown") (Characters as Source Material)

Tequila Sunrise 1988 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Bedroom Window 1987 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Personal Best 1982 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Reds 1981 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Shampoo 1975 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Chinatown 1974 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Yakuza 1974 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Last Detail 1973 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Villa Rides 1968 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Outer Limits 1963 - 1965 (TV Show)

Writer

The Tomb of Ligeia 1964 (Movie)

(Screenplay)
Actor (16)

Salinger 2013 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Story of Film: An Odyssey 2010 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired 2008 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Budd Boetticher: A Man Can Do That 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)

Actor

A Decade Under the Influence 2003 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

AFI's 100 Years..100 Heroes and Villains 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)

Actor

A Sad Flower in the Sand 2000 (Movie)

Himself--Screenwriter (Actor)

AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Billy Wilder: The Human Comedy 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Cadillac Desert 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

American Cinema 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

The Pick-Up Artist 1987 (Movie)

Stan (Actor)

Drive, He Said 1971 (Movie)

Richard (Actor)

Creature From the Haunted Sea 1961 (Movie)

(Actor)
Director (4)

Ask the Dust 2006 (Movie)

(Director)

Without Limits 1998 (Movie)

(Director)

Tequila Sunrise 1988 (Movie)

(Director)

Personal Best 1982 (Movie)

(Director)
Producer (3)

Mad Men 2013 - 2014 (Tv Show)

Consulting Producer

The Bedroom Window 1987 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Personal Best 1982 (Movie)

(Producer)
Other (1)

Bonnie and Clyde 1967 (Movie)

special consultant (Consultant)

Biography

Despite four Oscar-nominated screenplays, writer Robert Towne owed much of his reputation to his prowess as a pinch hitter, earning considerable respect as one of Hollywood's preeminent script doctors on a wide array of famous works like "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967), "The Godfather" (1972) and "Marathon Man" (1976). Emerging from the schlock of Roger Corman's B-grade sci-fi flicks, Towne reached the top of his game in the mid-1970s by writing three-straight films that were nominated for Academy Awards: "The Last Detail" (1973), "Chinatown" (1974) and "Shampoo" (1975). Towne also delved into directing with acclaimed films like "Personal Best" (1982) and "Without Limits" (1998), though most of his directing efforts failed to make much of a box office impression. For Towne, it was always his Oscar-winning script for "Chinatown" that earned him widespread recognition for being one of the finest scribes of his day, while giving him the distinction of having penned what many considered to be greatest screenplay in cinema history. In fact, Towne's masterwork was studied by would-be scribes hoping to unlock its secrets decades after its release, attesting to how much of a landmark film "Chinatown" really was.

Relationships

Helen Towne

Mother

Luisa Gaule

Wife
married c. 1985 mother of Towne's daughter Chiara

Julie Payne

Wife
married in November 1977 divorced c. 1981 mother of Towne's daughter Katharine divorced

Lou Towne

Father
made fortune in real estate formerly owned Towne Smart Shop which sold ladies' garments changed family name to Towne

Chiara Towne

Daughter
born on July 28, 1991 mother, Luisa Towne

Katharine Towne

Daughter
born on July 17, 1978 mother, Julie Payne

Roger Towne

Brother
born on April 15, 1940

EDUCATION

Chadwick School

Palos Verde , California

Pomona College

Claremont , California

Pomona College

Claremont , California

studied acting with Jeff Corey, where he met Jack Nicholson and Roger Corman in 1958

Milestones

2006

Helmed an adaptation of John Fante's Depression Era novel, "Ask the Dust," starring Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek

2000

Penned the screenplay for "Mission: Impossible II," starring Tom Cruise and directed by John Woo

1998

Third film as writer-director, "Without Limits", produced by Cruise and Paula Wagner; second film in as many years about legendary runner Steve Prefontaine; co-wrote with Kenny Moore, former University of Oregon and 1972 Olympic teammate of Prefontaine

1996

Co-wrote "Mission: Impossible" with David Koepp for producer-star Cruise

1994

Second screenwriting collaboration with Beatty, the disastrous remake "Love Affair"

1993

Collaborated with David Rabe and David Rayfiel on screenplay for "The Firm", adapted from the John Grisham novel; starred Cruise and directed by Sydney Pollack

1990

First association with Tom Cruise, "Days of Thunder"; co-wrote story with Cruise, then executed the screenplay

1990

Scripted "Chinatown" sequel "The Two Jakes"; originally supposed to direct but replaced by Nicholson; friendship did not survive the flap

1988

Second film as writer-director, "Tequila Sunrise"

1987

Executive produced "The Bedroom Window", directed by Curtis Harrington

1987

Portrayed Stan in James Toback's "The Pick-up Artist"

1984

Took screenwriting credit for "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes" as P H Vazak (his dog's name); had orinally intended to direct film, but fallout from his war with David Geffen on "Personal Best" led Warner Bros. to give the helm to Hugh

1982

Film producing and directing debut, "Personal Best"

1977

Contributed uncredited "script-doctoring" to "Marathon Man", rewriting William Goldman (a master himself)

1975

Co-wrote (with Beatty) "Shampoo", directed by Ashby; earned third screenwriting Oscar nomination in as many years

1975

With Paul Schrader, co-wrote "The Yakuza", directed by Sydney Pollack

1974

Won Oscar for original screenplay for Roman Polanski's "Chinatown", starring Nicholson

1973

Received first Oscar nomination for his adaptation of Darryl Ponicson's novel, "The Last Detail", directed by Hal Ashby; first feature collaboration with Nicholson as actor

1972

Scripted one scene (where the mantle passes from Brando to Pacino) in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather"

1970

First feature collaboration with friend Jack Nicholson, acting in Nicholson's directing debut, "Drive, He Said"

1968

Co-scripted (with Sam Peckinpah) "Villa Rides", directed by Buzz Kulik

1967

Was member of Warren Beatty's production staff and made uncredited contributions to screenplay of "Bonnie and Clyde"; credited as special consultant

1964

Wrote episodes for "The Outer Limits" (ABC), "Breaking Point" (ABC), "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." (NBC) and "The Richard Boone Show" (NBC)

1962

Wrote four episodes for "The Lloyd Bridges Show" (CBS)

1960

First screenwriting credit (as Edward Wain), Roger Corman's "The Last Woman on Earth"; also acting debut (billed as Edward Wain)

Worked as a tuna fisherman while in college

Moved to Los Angeles in the early 1950s

Raised in the gated community of Rolling Hills, California

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