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Mar 27, 2016 8:41 PM

Things to know about author Jim Harrison, who died at age 78

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) Here are some things to know about Jim Harrison, who died Saturday at age 78:


He wrote nearly 40 books, most famously "Legends of the Fall," and was an accomplished fiction writer, poet and essayist. Besides "Legends of the Fall," a collection of three novellas, his books included the novels "Dalva" and "The Big Seven" and the poetry collection "Plain Song."



His author friends included Tom McGuane and Phil Caputo, and he was close to Jack Nicholson, whose loan of $15,000 enabled him to finish "Legends of the Fall." He met Nicholson through McGuane, who wrote the screenplay for the 1976 Nicholson-Marlon Brando movie "The Missouri Breaks." Others he met in Hollywood included Warren Beatty, Sean Connery and Orson Welles.



He lived hard and was endlessly quotable, beginning his poem "Barking" with the lines: The moon comes up/The moon goes down/This is to inform you/that I didn't die young." A sign outside his farm in Michigan read: "DO NOT ENTER THIS DRIVEWAY UNLESS YOU HAVE CALLED FIRST. THIS MEANS YOU."



Fans knew him not just for his bulky physique and copious facial hair but for his blind left eye, injured at age 7 when a neighborhood girl jammed a bottle in his face. He joked that some mistook him for Nicholson's bodyguard. A Paris Review story from 1988 noted he also had been likened to a beer salesman and a sumo wrestler.



His screenplay credits included the film version of "Legends of the Fall," which starred Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins. While working on movies, he reminded himself of his marginal status in Hollywood by inscribing a putdown from an executive, "You're just a writer," on a piece of paper and taping it above his desk.


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