Winston Groom Dies: Author Of ‘Forrest Gump’ Novel Was 77
Winston Groom, the author whose novel Forrest Gump inspired the Oscar-winning film of the same name, has died at 77. No details on the cause of death were confirmed by the mayor’s office in Fairhope, Alabama, where he had been living.
Groom’s novel sold 1.7 million copies based on the popularity of the film, which won six Oscars in 1995, including Best Picture, Best Actor for star Tom Hanks, and Best Director for Robert Zemeckis.
Groom’s other novels included Better Times Than These, As Summers Die, Only, Gone the Sun, Such a Pretty, Pretty Girl and the 2016 El Paso. He also wrote the 2000 University of Alabama Press book The Crimson Tide: An Illustrated History of Football at the University of Alabama, and an updated 2010 second version, The Crimson Tide: The Official Illustrated History of Alabama Football, National Championship Edition.
The prolific author also wrote many nonfiction books, most covering military history.
The novel Forrest Gump is different from the film. The film script went through many changes, but one aspect of the book that was kept by the film was Gump narrating, looking back on his life.
On Groom’s first pages, Gump speaks of how poorly folks treated him because he was “a idiot.” But then it moves into tales of his glories as a Crimson Tide running back, an astronaut, professional wrestler, chess grandmaster, Ping-Pong wizard, and costar with Raquel Welch in a remake of The Creature From The Black Lagoon.
In the book, Gump smokes dope, enjoys sex, and plays rock ‘n’ roll.
In a 2014 interview with the Tuscaloosa News, Groom said the novel was “a farce, and that’s hard to do. The French do it well, but we don’t. “If I could convince, persuasively, a reader that Coach Paul Bryant would take an idiot and put him on the football team, they’d believe anything.Once you hook your reader, they’ll go for the rest. And that’s, I think, where I hooked ‘em.”
Groom said the novel was inspired by a story his father related about a neighbor’s child who displayed savant behavior. Groom wrote Forrest Gump in six weeks.
Born March 23, 1944, in Washington, D.C., and raised in Mobile County, Alabama, Groom turned to writing in college. He graduated from the University of Alabama in with an English degree in 1965, and embarked on a tour of duty in Vietnam.
Groom later worked as a reporter for the Washington Star, but gave that up to devote himself to fiction. After moving to New York City, he completed his first novel, Better Times Than These, set in the Vietnam War and published in 1978.
When Groom received the prestigious Harper Lee Award in 2011. He became a member of the Alabama Writers’ Hall of Fame 2018 class.
He is survived by his wife, Susan. No memorial plans have been announced,
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