My dear friend Peter Bogdanovich passed away the other day, age 82. I saw him last October in L.A. and he was, as always, funny and charming and dry-witted. While we were waiting for our table in the restaurant somebody noticed him and approached us (not an uncommon occurance–he was always a recognizable public figure and he loved it). The man stared at him and said: ‘I just want to tell you how much I loved you in ‘The Sopranos’. I cringed inwardly–Peter’s role in that show was the least of his accomplishments really. But he thanked the man gracefully. Once he was gone Peter turned to me, shrugged and said “Well, it’s better than nothing”.
Above is a clip from an early 1970s Dick Cavett show which features a rather remarkable roster of directors. In addition to Peter the guests are Frank Capra, Mel Brooks and Robert Altman. Capra plays the elder statesmen. Mel is the impudent ‘new guy on the block’ (this is pre-‘Blazing Saddles’ and although he’d made ‘The Producers’ he was not yet a ‘brand name’ in the movies). Altman is strangely reticent and doesn’t contribute much, except for one nicely snide comment. And Peter plays the smartest kid in class–the one who knows all the history and manages to be both informative and funny. Indeed Peter’s story at the end about the director Leo McCarey and how he got the inspiration to create one of Laurel & Hardy’s funniest bits is masterfully told and gets a big laugh and round of applause. R.I.P., Peter. You were a lovely friend and an often misunderstood man and I wish everybody had gotten to know you as I did.