Joan Didion, author of five novels including National Book Award winner The Year of Magical Thinking which also excelled in essays and has screenwriting credits, including the 1976 version of A star is born, died Thursday of complications from Parkinson’s disease in Manhattan. She was 87 years old.
His editor at Knopf confirmed the news to The New York Times.
Didion’s career flourished in the middle and reflected the sweeping changes in America, with books published in the 1960s and 1970s including Run the river, Advance to Bethlehem, Play it as it is, A common prayer book and The white albuman anthology of his magazine written for the likes of Life and Saturday night post that detailed stories mostly about California. Didion was born in Sacramento and was drawn to stories about her home country.
As a journalist, she has written political essays, including “Salvador”, about US involvement in El Salvador. She also pointed her pen to the likes of hippie culture, The Doors and Miami immigrants.
She was married to Weather writer John Gregory Dunne, and they collaborated on several screenplays after adapting his 1970 novel Play it as it is whole. It was released in 1972 and starred Tuesday Weld and Anthony Perkins.
Didion would later work again with Dunne and with Frank Pierson to write the 1976 screenplay A star is born, with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, about the rise and fall of a Hollywood starlet. She and Dunne also co-wrote 1996 Up close and personal, with Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford, about an ambitious young journalist trying to build her career.
In 2003 Dunne died of a heart attack aged 71 and their adopted daughter suffered a near-fatal bout of pneumonia. she will die two years later at age 39. Both tragedies became subjects of Didion’s prose, including in The Year of Magical Thinking, which she wrote as a form of therapy. The book was adapted into a one-man Broadway play starring Vanessa Redgrave.