Larry McMurtry remembered by writers, actors, fans: ‘RIP, cowboy. Horseman, pass by’

Larry McMurtry with a scarf around his neck at his Texas book shop
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry in 2014 at his Texas bookstore.
(LM Otero / Associated Press)

News of the death of author Larry McMurtry, some of whose books were adapted into Hollywood classics, brought a swell of sadness and memories on social media Friday from authors, screenwriters, actors and others.

McMurtry, the author of “Lonesome Dove” and “The Last Picture Show,” died Thursday of heart failure at his Tucson home. He was 84, and had written nearly 30 novels, about 15 works of nonfiction and more than 40 screenplays and teleplays.

Author Stephen King remembered the Texas native as a great storyteller. “I learned from him, which was important,” the author of “The Stand” tweeted. “I was entertained by him, which was ALL important. RIP, cowboy. Horseman, pass by.”

Michael Chabon, author of “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh” and “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,” argued for his own favorite out of McMurtry’s oeuvre and remembered the late writer as his mother’s favorite.


“#lonesomedove and #thelastpictureshow will endure, but I want to put in a word for my personal favorite, #movingon,” Chabon tweeted. “Giant, scruffy and valedictory, at once bleak and rich, quirkily peopled, it’s like a classic ‘70s Altman/Ashby/Rafelson film in novel form, imperfect and lovable.”

Larry McMurtry, the author known for outspoken, brassy characters of the old West who also won a 2006 Oscar for ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ has died at 84.

March 26, 2021

“Sitting here thinking of the greatness of Larry McMurtry. Among the best writers ever,” wrote James L. Brooks, the screenwriter who adapted “Terms of Endearment” for the Oscar-winning 1983 movie. “I remember when he sent me on my way to adapt ‘Terms’ — his refusal to let me hold him in awe. And the fact that he was personally working the cash register of his rare book store as he did so.”

“Castle Rock” actress Melanie Lynskey noted McMurtry’s “incredible body of work,” while “One Tree Hill” actress Hilarie Burton Morgan shared that she and husband Jeffrey Morgan named their son after “Lonesome Dove” character Augustus McCrae.

Pen America also released a statement Friday, celebrating McMurtry’s tenure as president of its board of trustees from 1989 to 1991, during which he testified before Congress in opposition to laws that barred ideologically contentious writers from immigrating to the U.S.

“At a moment when nativism and authoritarianism are on the rise, it’s a sad moment to mark the passing of one of the great writers who also rallied to the defense of those whom others tried to muzzle,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement. “We are grateful for Larry’s contributions not just to PEN America, not just to American literature, but to the right to speak freely.”


Here’s a sampling of the many reactions on social media Friday.