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Robert Towne
Born November 23, 1934 (1934-11-23) (age 75)
Los Angeles, California
Spouse(s) Julie Payne (m.1977)
Luisa Gaule (1984-)

Robert Burton Towne (born November 23, 1934) is an American screenwriter and director.



Personal life

He is married to Luisa Gaule. His former father-in-law is late actor John Payne, star of the western series, The Restless Gun. Towne's daughter (with actress Julie Payne) is Katharine Towne. He is a former father-in-law of Charlie Hunnam.


Graduate of Pomona College in Claremont, California.


Towne is the author of many notable film scripts, including Chinatown (1974), for which he received an Academy Award, plus its sequel, The Two Jakes (1990), and Oscar-nominated screenplays The Last Detail and Shampoo as well as the first two Mission Impossible films. Towne is also well-known in the motion-picture industry as an uncredited script doctor who has worked in such a capacity for The Godfather, Bonnie and Clyde, The Parallax View, The Rock and dozens of other Hollywood films.[1][2]

After working for years on a script of Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) he grew dissatisfied with the production and credited his dog, P.H. Vazak, with the script. Vazak became the first dog nominated for an Oscar for screenwriting, but he did not fetch the award.

Towne also wrote and directed Personal Best (1982), a fictional drama of female track-and-field athletes, and Without Limits (1998), a biopic based on the life of distance runner Steve Prefontaine. His crime story Tequila Sunrise (1988) co-starred Mel Gibson as a reformed cocaine dealer and Kurt Russell as a detective, with Michelle Pfeiffer as a woman who becomes romantically involved with both.

A project Towne had long sought to bring to the screen came to fruition in 2006 with Ask the Dust, a romantic period piece set in Los Angeles based on the acclaimed novel by John Fante and starring Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek. The film failed at the box office and received mixed reviews.


Towne has also written for television, including an acclaimed episode of the 1962-1963 CBS anthology series The Lloyd Bridges Show entitled "My Daddy Can Beat Your Daddy," with starring roles for Jeff Bridges and Gary Lockwood.

As performer

On occasion, he has acted on screen, as in 1960's Roger Corman sci-fi film Last Woman on Earth, which Towne also wrote.

Future projects

Towne has been announced as writer-director of The 39 Steps, a 2009 remake of the 1935 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Writing filmography



  1. ^ Kenneth Turan, Robert Towne's Hollywood Without Heroes, New York Times (27 November 1988)
  2. ^ Nicolas Cage, DVD commentary, The Rock Criterion Collection

External links


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