‘Urban Cowboy’ helmer Bridges dies

Oscar-nominated director James Bridges, whose films included “The Paper Chase ,””The China Syndrome” and “Urban Cowboy,” died of cancer Sunday. He was 57.

Bridges died of intestinal cancer after a three-year struggle. He was pronounced dead at the UCLA Medical Center, said his friend, Aaron Latham, who co-wrote “Urban Cowboy” with Bridges.

“He was an incredibly generous person, personally and professionally,” Latham said. “He made it easy to collaborate on every aspect of the movie.”

In 1966, Bridges first directed “The Candied House” for theater, written by his longtime companion Jack Larson. In 1977, Tennessee Williams chose him to stage the 25th-anniversary revivalof “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

Bridges began in movies by writing and directing “The Babymaker,” in 1970.

Three years later, he wrote and directed “The Paper Chase,” starring Timothy Bottoms and Lindsay Wagner as law school students and John Houseman in the Oscar-winning role as cantankerous Professor Charles W. Kingsfield Jr. It was later made into a TV series.

Popular on Variety

In 1979, Bridges wrote and directed “The China Syndrome” starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas. The film about a nuclear power plant accident gained Bridges an Oscar nomination for best screenplay.

Bridges’ last film, which he also directed and scripted from the novel, was “Bright Lights, Big City,” about the fast-paced life of a drug-abusing publishing house fact checker, played by Michael J. Fox.

Born in Paris, Ark. on Feb. 3, 1936, Bridges came to Los Angeles in the 1950s and got bit parts in the TV shows “Dragnet” and “Matinee Theater.”

Bridges is survived by his mother and sister, of Paris, Ark., where he will be buried.

More Scene

  • Logan Lerman Jordan Peele Al Pacino

    Al Pacino and Carol Kane Had a ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ Reunion on the ‘Hunters’ Set

    Nearly 45 years after Al Pacino and Carol Kane appeared in Sidney Lumet’s classic film “Dog Day Afternoon,” an Amazon Prime Video series about Nazi-hunters in 1977 New York City has brought them back together. Go figure. “I’m proud to be working with him again,” Kane told Variety at the “Hunters” premiere on Wednesday night [...]

  • Anya Taylor Joy Emma Premiere

    Anya Taylor-Joy on Playing Jane Austen's Clever, Callous Protagonist in 'Emma'

    It was an evening of elegance at the Los Angeles premiere of Focus Features’ “Emma” on Tuesday night. The red carpet was lined with pastel floral arrangements at the DGA Theater, priming visitors to be transported to the ornate pageantry of Georgian-era England, as depicted in this new adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic tale. Anya [...]

  • Tom Holland Chris Pratt Onward Premiere

    Tom Holland and Chris Pratt Show Off Real-Life Bond at Pixar's 'Onward' Premiere

    Pixar’s new movie “Onward” marks a reunion of sorts for Tom Holland and Chris Pratt. The two actors, who both have ties to Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe and most recently teamed in “Avengers: Endgame” as Spider-Man and Star-Lord, play brothers in the animated fantasy adventure. Their friendship has become a highlight of “Onward’s” promotional tour [...]

  • Da’Vine Joy Randolph

    Da’Vine Joy Randolph Praises Hulu's 'High Fidelity' for Telling a Realistic New York Story

    If HBO’s “Girls” characterized a certain type of young, disaffected millennial, fumbling cluelessly around a gentrifying Brooklyn, and if “Sex and the City” used Manhattan as a tantalizing playground for a class of well-connected, glamorous and decidedly 90s-bound women, both shows had one thing in common: they were painfully, inevitably white. “We’re gonna fix that!,” [...]

  • Harrison Ford Call of the Wild

    Why Harrison Ford Wanted to Play John Thornton in ‘The Call of the Wild’

    Joining legends like Charlton Heston and Clarke Gable, who have played the role of John Thornton in “The Call of the Wild,” Harrison Ford now stands next to a CGI-enhanced version of the dog named Buck in the latest adaptation of Jack London’s classic 1903 novel. “I thought the film has a lot to say [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content