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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Famed Texas Writer and Photographer Bill Wittliff Dies at 79

Posted By on Tue, Jun 11, 2019 at 2:40 PM

Author, photographer and screenwriter Bill Wittliff has taken his final ride off into the sunset. On Monday, Wittliff, 79, suffered a heart attack and died.

Most famous for writing the screen adaptation for the 1989 Lonesome Dove miniseries, Wittliff is also known for his collaborations with Willie Nelson, which began with 1980's Honeysuckle Rose. In addition to starring in the film, Nelson wrote mega-hit "On the Road Again" as its theme, nabbing himself an Oscar nom for "Best Original Song" the following year. Wittliff and Nelson would work together on two more films in the '80s, Barbarosa (1982) and Red Headed Stranger (1986), the latter of which was based on Wilson's 1975 album of the same name.

Wittliff would later pen the screenplays for hit films Legends of the Fall (1994, with Susan Shiliday) and The Perfect Storm (2000).
A prolific photographer, Wittliff's work has been published in three books –  Vaquero: Genesis of the Texas Cowboy (2004), La Vida Brinca (2006) and A Book of Photographs from Lonesome Dove (2007).

He also founded the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University, which contain a vast collection of his life's work, including artifacts from Lonesome Dove, papers and letters from novelist Cormac McCarthy and even a paper towel on which Elvis Presley wrote a note to allow then-teenage Wittliff to be granted a ticket into Presley's performance. Prior to his death, Wittliff was working on the continued expansion of the collection.

Wittliff is survived by his wife Sally. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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