Patricia Bosworth, who started out as an actress in films such as “The Nun’s Story” and went on to become a notable celebrity biographer and magazine editor, died Thursday of complications of coronavirus. She was 86.
Her friend Ray Leslee wrote on Facebook, “Patti was more than a great writer. She was an inspiration and a pillar of support to so many wonderful people. And she was so dear to me. She was the youngest and most vibrant 86-year-old I know. I last spoke to her on March 10th. She had just returned from a week’s travels, researching for her new book about Paul Robeson…The deadly virus came on very quickly and she’s gone.”
Bosworth wrote bestselling biographies of Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda and Diane Arbus, for whom she had posed early in her career as a model.
Born Patricia Crum in Oakland, Calif., she moved to New York with her family as a teenager and began modeling after graduating Sarah Lawrence College. She then studied acting under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. She worked on Broadway and in television on shows including “The Naked City” and “The Patty Duke Show.”
Moving into journalism in the 1960s, she began writing features for the New York Times and New York Magazine, eventually becoming editor of senior editor of McCall’s and managing editor of Harper’s Bazaar. She went on to work at Viva, Mirabella and Vanity Fair, where she continued to be a contributing editor.
The author knew Jane Fonda from the Actors Studio in the 1950s, and the actress gave her full access for the 2011 biography “Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman,” which Bosworth worked on for 10 years.
Her controversial biography of Arbus, which was not approved by the photographer’s estate, served as a basis for the 2006 film “Fur,” directed by Steven Shainberg. Nicole Kidman played Arbus, while Ty Burell and Robert Downey Jr. played her husband and lover.
Her most recent book was “The Men in My Life: A Memoir of Love and Art in 1950s Manhattan.”