WASHINGTON: Pat Conroy, a US novelist whose books included “Prince of Tides” and “The Great Santini,” died at the age of 70, his hometown newspaper reported late Friday.
Conroy, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just four weeks ago, died Friday surrounded by family at his home in Beaufort in the state of South Carolina, the Beaufort Gazette reported.
Conroy’s bruising childhood in the southern United States served as material for his novels.
His 1976 book, “The Great Santini,” was inspired by his own family and his overbearing father, an abusive and ultra-macho Marine fighter pilot. The book was turned into a 1979 movie starring Robert Duvall.
Conroy later wrote about a reconciliation of sorts with his aging father in the 2013 memoir titled “The Death of Santini.”
His 1986 novel “The Prince of Tides,” about a troubled man who falls in love with his suicidal sister’s psychiatrist, was turned into a 1991 Hollywood movie starring Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand.
The movie received seven Oscar nominations, including for Best Picture and one for Conroy as the screenplay co-author.
Conroy used his time at The Citadel military college and the school’s problems with racial integration as inspiration for his 1980 novel “Lords of Discipline.”
That book resulted in Conroy being banned from campus, and triggered a war of words with the school that went on for years. Further irritating the school, in the 1990s Conroy pushed for female integration at the all-male bastion, the Charleston Post and Courier said.
Because of what they saw as a negative portrayal The Citadel refused to let cameras film a movie version of the book at the site. “Lords of Discipline” nevertheless became a 1983 movie starring David Keith.
Conroy later wrote a 2002 memoir about his time at the military academy, titled “My Losing Season.”
“I celebrated my 70th birthday in October and realized that I’ve spent my whole writing life trying to find out who I am and I don’t believe I’ve even come close,” Conroy wrote on Facebook on February 15, when he announced his pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
With the help from doctors at the hospital “I intend to fight it hard,” he wrote.
Conroy’s books, even a cookbook that he authored, were regulars on The New York Times best-seller list.
The late author, who had been living in Beaufort since 1993 and was currently writing another novel, is survived by his wife, novelist Cassandra King, the Beaufort Gazette reported.