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Robert Towne, Oscar winner for his 'Chinatown' screenplay, died at the age of 89

Among his robust track record are also notable writings such as  "The Last Duty" (1973), "Shampoo" (1975) and the first two installments of "Mission Impossible."

Robert TowneCordon Press

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Robert Towne, the Hollywood writer whose screenplay "Chinatown" is often described as the best of all time, died at 89.

The Oscar winner, who also has on his resume "The Last Duty" (1973), "Shampoo" (1975) and the first two installments of "Mission Impossible," passed away at his home in Los Angeles, publicist Carri McClure told AFP.

Towne was one of the faces of the New Hollywood movement in the 1970s. Although his name did not always appear in the credits, his contributions left their mark on several classics.

Among the most famous are "Bonnie and Clyde" and "The Godfather."

Upon receiving his Oscar for the screenplay for the mob movie, Francis Ford Coppola saluted Towne from the stage.

"Credit where credit is due," - Coppola said - "[for] the very beautiful scene between Marlon [Brando] and Al Pacino in the garden."

It elevated Towne to New Hollywood stardom and success followed.

In his heyday, Towne was Oscar-nominated for his screenplays for three consecutive years during the 1970s, taking home the statuette for "Chinatown."

Jack Nicholson stars in the film as a private detective in the 1930s who, while investigating a cheating husband, uncovers a world of corruption in Los Angeles.

Its complex plot, acid-humor-laden dialogue and themes made '"Chinatown" the perfect screenplay in film schools, even though director Roman Polanski changed the ending to make it something more sinister than Towne had devised.

His career never returned to those heights, perhaps something impossible to repeat.

The sequel"Chinatown 2" (starring and directed by Nicholson) received mixed reviews in 1990.

It was in that year that Towne collaborated with Tom Cruise on "Days of Thunder."

The duo also worked on "No Way Out"(1993), and on the first production of the "Mission: Impossible" franchise.

He was later a production consultant on the television hit "Mad Men."

"Legendary screenwriter and filmmaker Robert Towne passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his loving family on Monday, July 1, 2024," said the statement released Tuesday afternoon.

"Information about a ceremony to honor his life will be announced later. The Towne family appreciates the respect for his privacy at this time," the statement added.