William Goldman, Oscar-Winning Screenwriter for ‘All the President’s Men,’ ‘Butch Cassidy,’ Dies at 87

Acclaimed novelist and playwright also wrote “The Princess Bride” and “Marathon Man”

William Goldman
NEW YORK – DECEMBER 23: Writer William Goldman at the New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves NBA game at Madison Square Garden on December 23, 2003 in New York. (Photo by Ray Amati/Getty Images)

William Goldman, the author of the novel “The Princess Bride” and a two-time Oscar winner behind “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “All the President’s Men,” has died. He was 87.

His daughter, Jenny Goldman, told The Washington Post that he passed away in his home in Manhattanon  Friday from complications from pneumonia and colon cancer.

Goldman was a legendary screenwriter and script doctor behind films such as “Marathon Men,” “Misery,” “Chaplin” and many more. He’s also an acclaimed novelist and playwright, and he’s even behind several iconic, non-fiction resources for contemporary writers, including “Adventures in Screen Trade” and “Which Lie Did I Tell?”

“Nobody knows anything,” Goldman wrote in “Adventures in Screen Trade.” “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.”

Born in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, Goldman graduated from Oberlin College and got his Masters from Columbia University. He began his career as a novelist before coming to Hollywood for screenwriting, changing the perception of the role of the screenwriter in the industry. His script for 1969’s “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, would fetch $400,000 in a studio bidding war. At the time, that was the highest price ever paid for an original screenplay.

Goldman married photographer and model Ilene Jones in 1961 before divorcing in 1991. He is survived by his two daughters with Jones, Jenny and Susanna.