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Robert Altman


Born: 20 February 1925
Died: 20 November 2006
Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri
Best known as:

The director of M*A*S*H and The Player

A Hollywood filmmaker who made non-Hollywood movies, Robert Altman earned five Oscar nominations over his long and independent-minded career, eventually winning an honorary Oscar in 2006 for his body of work. Robert Altman worked in documentaries and series television in the 1950s and '60s, and one of his first feature films was the 1970 war comedy M*A*S*H. The film was a critical and box office hit and had all the elements Altman became known for: a meandering narrative, satiric humor, realistic and overlapping dialogue, a big ensemble cast, and not-so-subtle social commentary. Altman went on to make a strong showing in the 1970s, winning acclaim for the realism of movies such as McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Nashville (1975) and A Wedding (1978). While critics loved him or loved to complain about Altman, audiences tended to ignore his movies. After notable failures like Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976, starring Paul Newman) and Popeye (1980, starring Robin Williams), Altman had a harder time getting movies financed, but still managed to make art-house fare like Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982) and the restaged theatrical works Streamers (1983) and Fool for Love (1985). His biting 1992 satire of life in Hollywood, The Player, turned into a comeback success that earned three Oscar nominations, including Altman's third as a director. Short Cuts (1993) was also well-received, and Gosford Park (2001) was a best picture nominee. Robert Altman's other films include Prét-á-Porter (1994), Dr. T and the Women (2000, starring Richard Gere) and A Prairie Home Companion (2006, based on the radio show by Garrison Keillor).

Extra credit:

Robert Altman's Oscar nominations as director were for M*A*S*H, Nashville, The Player, Short Cuts and Gosford Park... Altman teamed with Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau to make the political cable series Tanner '88 (1988).

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