Kathryn Altman, the widow of Oscar-nominated “Nashville” director Robert Altman, died of a heart attack Wednesday in her Santa Monica home. She was 91.
Following the director’s death in 2006, she participated in various projects to celebrate his talent and ensure that his legacy lived on. Kathryn Altman contributed to numerous Robert Altman retrospectives, such as those at the Museum of Modern Art and the UCLA Film and Television Archives as well as at festivals around the world. She also assisted in the establishment of the University of Michigan’s Robert Altman Collection, one of the largest archives of a major film director.
“While Kathryn Altman’s name does not appear in the credits of any of her husband’s films, the Altman collection is as much a tribute to her as it is to Bob himself,” said University of Michigan librarian Phillip Hallman. “Her presence led directly to her stewardship of his legacy, which she worked on tirelessly until the end.”
In 2014 she co-wrote the scrapbook memoir “Altman,” which included an intro by Martin Scorsese, family and on-set photos and excerpts from Roger Ebert, Garrison Keillor, Lily Tomlin and James Franco, among others. Later that year, she served as the narrative thread in the Ron Mann-directed documentary “Altman,” which chronicles the life and work of the late director.
Born in Glendale, California, Kathryn joined theater producer Earl Carroll’s troupe shortly after graduating from Hollywood High School. Following a stint as a showgirl in Carroll’s Broadway musical “Earl Carroll’s Vanities,” she met her husband Robert in 1959 when she was cast as an extra in an episode of the adventure series “Whirlybirds,” which he directed. The pair married later that year.
Altman’s last public appearance was at a March 3 35th anniversary showing of “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” one of her husband’s Oscar-nominated films.
Altman is survived by her children, Konni Corriere, Robert Reed Altman and Matthew Altman; her stepchildren, Christine Altman, Michael Altman and Stephen Altman; 12 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.