′Forrest Gump′ author Winston Groom dies | News | DW | 18.09.2020
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'Forrest Gump' author Winston Groom dies

Vietnam War-era journalist Groom wrote 16 books. His "Forrest Gump" bestseller and then the film, starring Tom Hanks, won acclaim as a touching and poignant exploration of the late 20th century in the US.

Winston Groom has died at the age of 77 in his Alabama home in Fairhope, the town's mayor Karin Wilson posted on social media Friday. Groom was most famous for creating "Forrest Gump." His novel was made into a six-Oscar winning film starring Tom Hanks in 1994. 

"While he will be remembered for creating 'Forrest Gump,' Winston Groom was a talented journalist and noted author of American history. Our hearts and prayers are extended to his family,'' Alabama Govenor Kay Ivey said in a statement.

How 'Forrest Gump' became a cultural phenomenon

Groom, who grew up in Mobile on Alabama's Gulf coast, once told the New York Times that director Robert Zemecki's film version of "Forrest Gump" took some of the "rough edges off" his book.

His novel "never would have opened" as a film, he told Alabama's Tuscaloosa News, conceding "they did an excellent job."

The novel was "darker" and "richer than the movie," said professor emeritus of English Don Noble of the University of Alabama, where Groom graduated 1965. "It's more subtle and more complicated."

The film also earned Tom Hanks the title of best actor for portraying a slow-witted man, albeit with a great many talents, who witnesses or was involved in key 20th century events.

Studied are the Kennedy and Johnson US presidencies, Alabama's segregationist Governor George Wallace, the Vietnam war offset by US anti-war protests, and even the advent of major tech companies. Groom himself served as an infantry soldier.

His granting of movie rights earned him $350,000 (€295,000) plus 3% of the net profit. Paramount Pictures later disclosed it earned over $600 million but claimed it ended up in the red after expenses, noted AP on Friday.

Groom's later works included a 2005 nonfiction book "1942: The Year That Tried Men's Souls," chronicling US involvement in World War II.

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ipj/rt (AP, dpa)