Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Horton Foote, one of America's leading dramatists, was known for his "intimate, loving, perceptive exploration of ordinary people and their often extraordinary resilience" (Los Angeles Times). He has often been called "the Chekhov of small town America."
Foote was born in 1916 in the small Gulf town of Wharton, Texas, where his father was a merchant and cotton farmer and his mother was an amateur pianist. He began his theatrical career in his youth by joining an acting program, and later acted with a summer stock company on Martha's Vineyard. He eventually moved to New York, where he was one of the founding members of the American Actors Company. Much of his writing is inspired by his Texas upbringing.
Foote's early career in writing for the stage led him into writing television drama. He wrote plays for Playhouse 90, Philco Playhouse and U.S. Steel Hour. The next step in his career lead to Hollywood where he wrote an adaptation of Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird, that provided an acting opportunity for Robert Duvall. Twenty years later, Mr. Foote wrote the screenplay Tender Mercies especially for Duvall, which brought Academy Awards to both Duvall and Foote. In 1985, Mr. Foote's play A Trip to Bountiful (nominated for an Academy Award and has been produced for stage and television) won an Academy Award for Geraldine Page.
Foote received the Pulitzer Prize for his 1995 stage play, The Young Man from Atlanta, the story of an older couple attempting to cope with a son's death and the possibility of his homosexuality. Other plays include The Last of the Thorntons (2000), the nine-play Orphans' Home Cycle (written throughout the 1970s), The Chase (1956), and The Trip to Bountiful (1953; film 1985). Foote has twice received the Academy Award for Best Screenplay, for the film adaptation of Harper Lee's novel, To Kill A Mockingbird (1962), and for the original screenplay, Tender Mercies (1983). He is also the author of two autobiographies, Beginnings (2001) and Farewell: A Memoir of a Texas Childhood (1999).
Foote is the recipient the National Medal of Arts (2000), the Master American Dramatist Award from the Pen American Center (2000), the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Writers Guild of America (1999), the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Drama (1998), and the William Inge Award for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater (1989).