L.M. Kit Carson, Co-Writer of ‘Paris, Texas,’ Dies at 73

L.M. Kit Carson, Co-Writer of 'Paris,
Scott Gries/Getty Images

Screenwriter, actor and author L.M. Kit Carson, who adapted Wim Wenders’ “Paris, Texas” and helped Wes Anderson launch his first film “Bottle Rocket,” died Monday after a long illness. He was 73.

Palme d’Or winner “Paris, Texas” was created by playwright Sam Shepard, but Carson came on to complete the screenplay after his son Hunter Carson was cast in the film at age 7.

Carson also wrote the screenplay for the 1983 remake of Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless” and the 1984 crime pic “Chinese Boxes.” Fans weren’t sure about Tobe Hooper’s sequel “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2,” starring Dennis Hopper, when it was released, but the grotesque Cannon Films black comedy has become a cult favorite since.

While Anderson and “Bottle Rocket” star Owen Wilson were trying to get the 13-minute short made into a feature, Wilson remembered that it was Carson who gave them some of the most useful advice.

“Kit had the idea for us to try to go to Sundance and then eventually send it to (producer) Barbara Boyle, who sent it to (producers) Polly Platt and Jim Brooks,” said Wilson. With their help, Anderson got the greenlight from Columbia Pictures to shoot the film with Owen and Luke Wilson as the leads.

Carson was both a notable member of 1960s and ’70s counterculture and a pillar of the Texas film scene. He wrote for publications such as Esquire, Film Comment, Rolling Stone, Playboy and Variety, where he was among the first writers to spotlight names such as Dennis Hopper, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino.

His 1968 film “David Holzman’s Diary,” which he wrote and starred in, is said to be the first mockumentary. As an actor, he appeared in “Running on Empty,” “Miami Vice” and “Chinese Boxes.”

Born Lewis Minor Carson in Irving, Texas, Carson co-founded the USA Film Festival in Dallas, the first festival devoted specifically to American independent film.  He was married for four years to actress Karen Black, with whom he had his son Hunter.

In later years he worked with his second wife Cynthia Hargrave on a variety of documentaries, shorts and TV projects including the Sundance Channel’s “Africa Diary.”

He is survived by Hargrave and his son.

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