Foote, Horton

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Foote, Horton

Horton Foote (Albert Horton Foote, Jr.), 1916–2009, American playwright and screenwriter, b. Wharton, Tex. He studied acting and acted in California and New York, and wrote his first one-act play in 1940 and his earliest full-length play a year later. Over seven decades, Foote wrote 60 plays and 13 films. Most chronicle the rhythms of life, everyday events, and intergenerational struggles of families in small-town Texas, with Wharton reborn as the fictional Harrison. In the 1950s he authored a number of teleplays; The Trip to Bountiful, the best known, began as a television drama (1953), was performed on Broadway, and became an Academy Award–winning film (1985). Foote produced several screenplays including two that won him Academy Awards, the adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and the original script for Tender Mercies (1983). During the 1970s he wrote most of The Orphans' Home, a semiautobiographical family saga told in a cycle of nine plays; his three-part version was first performed in 2009. Foote's other late plays include The Young Man from Atlanta (1995; Pulitzer Prize), The Last of the Thorntons (2000), and Dividing the Estate (2007). His daughter, the actress Hallie Foote, 1953–, has starred in several of his plays.

See his memoirs (1997 and 1999) and Genesis of an American Playwright (2004); biographies by C. S. Watson (2003) and W. Hampton (2009); studies by R. L. Briley (1993), G. C. Wood (1998 as ed. and 1999), and L. Porter (2003).

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