Bo Goldman, the renowned Academy Award-winning screenwriter, who co-wrote iconic films like ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ (1975) and ‘Melvin and Howard’ (1980), has died at the age of 90 in Helendale, California. The sad news was confirmed by director Todd Field, Goldman’s son-in-law.
Goldman’s illustrious career took off when director Milos Forman discovered and read his initial screenplay. Impressed by his talent, Forman invited Goldman to adapt Ken Kesey’s novel, ‘Cuckoo’s Nest,’ for the big screen. The resulting script, co-written with Lawrence Hauben, earned Goldman the prestigious Oscar for Best Screenplay Adapted from Other Material. The film also received critical acclaim, winning the Best Picture Oscar. Securing awards for Forman, lead actor Jack Nicholson, and Louise Fletcher, who portrayed Nurse Ratched.
Goldman’s genius was recognized once again with his second Oscar for ‘Melvin and Howard.’ This time in the category of Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. Goldman collaborated with director Martin Brest on two other highly praised films, ‘Scent of a Woman’ (1992) and ‘Meet Joe Black’ (1998).
A Journey from New York City to Princeton
Born in New York City, Goldman attended Phillips Exeter Academy. Later pursued his education at Princeton University, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1953. A fascinating twist of fate led to his unique name, “Bo.” A typesetter mistakenly omitted the second “b” in his name while he was writing for the college newspaper as Bob Goldman. He was so enamoured by the error that he legally changed his name to Bo Goldman.
After serving in the Army for three years following college, he began working as an assistant to Jule Styne, the celebrated composer. Goldman made his Broadway debut in 1959 as one of the lyricists for ‘First Impressions.’ A musical based on Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ produced by Styne’s company.
As ‘Deadline’ reports, despite early work in television, Goldman encountered challenges in establishing sustained success. However, the late 1960s and early 1970s marked a turning point when he wrote his first screenplay, ‘Shoot the Moon.’ Drawing inspiration from his observations of contemporary marriages in crisis. It was this work that captured the attention of Milos Forman. Eventually led to the assignment of adapting ‘Cuckoo’s Nest.’
Goldman’s impressive repertoire of screenwriting credits also includes ‘The Flamingo Kid’ (1984), ‘Little Nikita’ (1988), and ‘City Hall’ (1996).
Survived by son Justin Ashforth and four daughters – Mia Goldman, Amy Goldman, Diana Rathbun, and Serena Rathbun. Bo Goldman leaves behind a legacy that extends to seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His wife and another son predeceased him. At this time, no memorial plans have been revealed. As the film industry mourns the loss of a true writing luminary.