Witt and Wisdom

June 1998By Comments

BILL WITTLIFF IS A RENAISSANCE hombre. An author, a publisher, a film producer, and an arts patron, the longtime Austinite is best known for his screenplays, including The Black Stallion, Raggedy Man, Legends of the Fall, and Lonesome Dove; his adaptation of the latter revived both the miniseries and the Hollywood western. During its filming ten years ago, Wittliff wore yet another hat: that of volunteer photographer. Over the 89 days of the shoot, he took some five thousand pictures of stars and extras, saloons and stampedes (see “Dove Shoot,” page 106). Afterward he presented framed photos as mementos to stars Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones and other friends. “Then a friend of a friend wanted two,” he says. “That started a steady flow of requests.” He has since sold hundreds. Hand-printed and sepia-toned, the pictures start at $450 and are available through four galleries: Stephen L. Clark in Austin, John Cleary in Houston, James H. Evans in Marathon, and Andrew Smith in Santa Fe. “Everything to do with Lonesome Dove was quality,” the 58-year-old observes. “I don’t mean to sound self-effacing, but when people buy these photographs, I think what they’re really buying are memories of something that gave them pleasure and made them feel good.”

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