The great Horton Foote, the Wharton native responsible for such works as the To Kill a Mockingbird screenplay (for which he won an Oscar), The Trip to Bountiful (filmed in Dallas) and Tender Mercies, died today at the age of 92 at his Connecticut home. This excerpt from his New York Times obituary:
Although he boarded a train for Dallas at the age of 16 to pursue a career as an actor, Mr. Foote never really left home. From his first efforts as a playwright, he returned again and again to set his plays and films amid the pecan groves and Victorian houses with large front porches on the tree-lined streets of Wharton. His inspiration came from the people he knew and the stories he heard growing up there. "I've spent my life listening," Mr. Foote once said.
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Now, perhaps, would be a very good time to visit the DeGolyer Library on the SMU campus, where the Horton Foote Collection is kept -- with "close to 200 boxes of material [including] manuscripts, scrapbooks, handwritten drafts of screenplays, diaries, letters, photographs, and family memorabilia of the Wharton, Texas, native who has spent over 60 years in film, stage, and television." Six years ago, in fact, the DeGolyer Library mounted the exhibition "Horton Foote and The Trip to Bountiful, 1953-2003."