American novelist Winston Groom, best known for writing the book that would be the basis for the 1994 Best Picture winner Forrest Gump, passed away this week. Groom passed away on Wednesday, September 16 in Fairhope, Alabama, living in the Yellow Hammer state for most of his life and dramatizing it in the pages of Forrest Gump. News of Groom's passing was confirmed by Mayor Karin Wilson of Fairhope, who wrote online: "It is with great sadness that I share the passing of our dear friend Winston Groom. The City of Fairhope has lost an iconic author today. Please keep his friends and family in your thoughts and prayers." Groom was 77 at the time of his passing.
Published in 1986, Groom's novel wouldn't go on to become a best seller and a worldwide hit until after the Tom Hanks starring movie. Though the film shares a handful of similarities to the book, there are substantial differences between them in terms of tone. In any event, the movie went on to win six Oscars at the 67th Academy Awards including Best Actor, best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture.
Groom would go on to write a sequel to his novel titled Gump and Co., published one year after the film's release in 1995. His feelings on the movie were made clear in that book, which opened with the line "Don't never let nobody make a movie of your life's story." The book continues its predecessors style of finding ways to incorporate Gump into major world events, tying him to the creation of New Coke, The Iran-Contra affair, befriending John Hinckley, crashing the Exxon Valdez, capturing Saddam Hussein in the Persian Gulf War, and even meeting Tom Hanks.
Groom's writing career stretched into non-fiction as well, penning books about the American Civil War, World War II, and The University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team (having been an alumnus of the school). In a statement, the Univeristy wrote:
"We are saddened to learn of the passing of one of our Legends, Winston Groom. A 1965 UA graduate, Groom authored 16 books, including Forrest Gump. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time."
Another one of his titles, Conversations with the Enemy, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1984.
In a message posted online, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey issued a statement on Groom's passing, writing: "Saddened to learn that Alabama has lost one of our most gifted writers. While he will be remembered for creating Forrest Gump, Winston Groom was a talented journalist & noted author of American history. Our hearts & prayers are extended to his family."