Winston Groom, the author of “Forrest Gump,” along with several acclaimed novels and stories, died Wednesday at the age of 77.
Groom died in Fairhope, according to Fairhope Mayor Karin Wilson.
A native of Washington, DC, Groom grew up in Mobile County and attended UMS-Wright and the University of Alabama before serving in Vietnam. Her life at times was comparable to that of her most famous character.
After Vietnam, he seriously embarked on a career as a writer. In a 2000 article for the Washington Post, Groom recalled his early days as a reporter.
“I found a job in Washington with the old Washington Star, and as the lowest-ranking reporter on the staff I had to go to demonstrations many times to do a ‘count.’ How to count the heads of 250,000 people on the move I still don’t know, but somehow we found the numbers, ”he wrote.
At The Star, “everyone had a brown bag with whiskey in it and an unfinished manuscript,” he recalls, but while there he got closer to Willie Morris and met the author of “Catch -22 “Joseph Heller, author of” Slaughterhouse Five “Kurt Vonnegut and James Jones, author of” From Here to Eternity “.
In a 2016 interview for his novel, “El Paso,” Groom described himself as an “old school” guy who wanted to offer readers a novel rooted in action rather than soul-searching.
“I always say, if you want to send a message, call Western Union,” he said. His 1982 book, “Conversations with the Enemy,” was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
Groom has written eight novels, but none are more famous than the one centered on an unlikely Alabama hero. Groom created the character of Forrest Gump, he said in 1994, after he and his father spent a weekend together. Her father, in his eighties, told her about a local boy who was called “slow” but who could play the piano brilliantly.
That same night he started to write the book, which he said “just wrote himself.” He finished the first draft six weeks later. He wanted the character to have dignity, which he later said was why the story attracted people.
“There were times I laughed just while writing the book. It was a lot of fun to write and I got to really love the character, ”he said.
“Forrest Gump,” released in 1986, became a massive box office hit in 1994 and a pop culture sensation, with the character of Groom interacting with presidents and unconsciously wandering through various benchmark moments for baby boomers. . With Tom Hanks in the title role, the film won the Best Picture award at the Oscars.
Groom gave the world a sequel, “Gump & Co.,” as well as a University of Alabama football history, “The Crimson Tide.” He has also written several military stories and books on the West and the Civil War.
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