Groom’s novel about a slow but generous man from Alabama was adapted into a Hollywood movie in 1994.
Tom Hanks won an Oscar for his portrayal of Gump, and the film itself won six more Oscars – including Best Picture – after grossing more than $ 683 million (£ 527 million) at the box office global.
He became a cultural sensation and in 2011 was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry.
Groom’s death was confirmed by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.
She said, “Sad to hear that Alabama has lost one of our most gifted writers. ”
“Although he is remembered for creating Forrest Gump, Winston Groom was a talented journalist and renowned author of American history.
“Our hearts and prayers are extended to his family. ”
Groom graduated from the University of Alabama in 1965 before a stint in the United States Army, which included a period of service during the Vietnam War.
In his tribute, the university called him “one of our legends”.
After the success of Forrest Gump, Groom wrote a follow-up, 1995’s Gump and Co.
Groom, a former journalist, has also written non-fiction on a range of topics, including the American Civil War.