Pat Conroy, Author of ‘The Prince of Tides,’ ‘The Great Santini,’ Dies at 70

Pat Conroy Dead: 'The Prince of
AP Photo/Lou Krasky

Pat Conroy, the South Carolina author of bestsellers including “The Prince of Tides,” “The Great Santini” and “The Lords of Discipline,” died Friday in Beaufort, S.C. He was 70 and had been battling pancreatic cancer.

Conroy shared an Oscar nomination for the adaptation of his novel “The Prince of Tides” into the 1991 film starring Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand.

He was known for his family novels and memoirs that were often based on his life and featured a lush, florid writing style.

Conroy’s wife, novelist Cassandra Conroy, said in a statement, “The water is wide and he has now passed over.”

“The Great Santini,” which was made into a 1979 film starring Robert Duvall, was drawn from Conroy’s experiences as the oldest of seven children of an abusive Marine Corps colonel.

The 1980 adaptation of “The Lords of Discipline” was also inspired by his life, as a cadet at the Citadel military academy.

His other books included “My Losing Season,” “Beach Music” and “South of Broad.”

Born in Atlanta, Conroy taught school on an island off the South Carolina coast, and based one of his first books, “The Water Is Wide,” on his experiences teaching students who spoke the Gullah dialect. It was adapted as the 1974 Jon Voight film “Conrack.” His 2013 memoir “The Death of Santini” delved further into the story of his father.

He is survived by his wife, two daughters, two sisters, three brothers and seven grandchildren.

Streisand remembered Conroy as such: “First, I fell in love with Pat Conroy’s book, ‘The Prince of Tides,’ and then I fell in love with him,” she said. “He was generous and kind, humble and loving…such a joy to work with. I was so honored that he entrusted his beautiful book to me.”

Streisand added, “Pat’s natural language was poetry…he wrote sentences that are like an incantation. He observed every nuance of human behavior and dug deep down to the truth…presenting it in all its glorious and stubborn complexity. I am so sad today. I lost a dear friend, and the world has lost a great writer.”

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  1. coni says:

    As the daughter of a career military man I could really relate to the character in THE GREAT SANTINI; my guts were ripped out when I saw this movie. GREAT WORK PAT; you WILL be missed.

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  3. Ken says:

    THE PRINCE OF TIDES film was released in 1991, not 1986.

    “‘Tides”, along with “Great Santini” and “‘Discipline” are all powerful American novels. Conroy’s examinations of the family dynamic were perhaps the most arresting to come along since Joyce Carol Oates’. A great talent; a fabulous read. My sympathies to his family.

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