Iconic author and screenwriter, Joan Didion dies at the age of 87

Joan Didion was confirmed to have passed away by her editor on Wednesday, with the cause being Parkinson’s Disease.

Known for her unperturbed style of essay and novel writing, Joan Didion was, without doubt, a ground-breaking author of her time.

She was also famous for co-writing screenplays with her late husband, John Gregory Dunne.

Joan Didion
Source-New York Post

Some of their most famous films include True Confessions, A Star Is Born, Up Close and Personal and The Panic in Needle Park.

In 1968 Didion penned the famous essay collection “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”, followed by the 1970 novel Play It as It Lays, which was later adapted to film.

These early bodies of work are haled as Didion’s securing pieces. She was a keen-eyed observer in the California culture and beyond.

As the 60s drew to a close, an essay collection comprised of Joan Didion’s various magazine pieces was released in 1979.

Further cementing her voice in pop culture, the collection tackled era-defining topics such as the Doors, Charles Mansen, and other pop culture phenomenon’s.

Although the Play It As It Lays novel received great praise, the 1972 film adaptation, starring Tuesday Weld was less well-received, despite Weld scoring a Golden Globe nomination.


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A few years later in 1976, Didion and Dunne joined forces to update the screenplay of the original A Star Is Born, which became a hit sensation starring the much-loved Barbra Streisand.

The power couple were at it again in 1981 to adapt Dunne’s novel, True Confessions into a film directed by Ulu Grosbard and starring Robert Duvall and Robert De Niro.

Al Pacino fans will be familiar with the famous film Panic in Needle Park, which was also collaborated on by the dynamic duo.

Skip to the 90s and the couple teamed up for the screenplay of the 1996 drama Up Close and Personal, a film based on the story of news anchor Jessica Savitch.

In the 80s, Didion expanded her catalogue, writing about politics in “Miami” and “Salvador” based on Cuban expatriates.

Didion discussed her “fly-on-the-wall” approach to observing and reporting in Slouching Towards Bethlehem: “My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests,”

In 2003, John Gregory Dunne passed away, prompting Didion to pen a memoir titled The Year of Magical Thinking.

Proving she still had grip in the game, the piece received high acclaim and went on to be adapted into a Broadway play.

Following her graduation from UC Berkeley, Didion completed a summer internship at Vogue and concurrently wrote her first novel Run River, set in her rural Sacramento childhood surrounds.

She met her husband, during her Vogue internship, while he was a writer for Time Magazine.

They married in 1964 and Didion began making a name for herself in publications such as New York Times, and Saturday Evening Post.

Tragically her adopted daughter, Quintana Roo, suffered mental health issues and alcoholism, dying at the age of 31.

Following her husband’s death, Joan Didion moved out of Los Angeles and back to New York where she continued to live.