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Aaron Latham, 1943–2022

Thursday, July 28, 2022
Aaron Latham, 1943–2022

Aaron Latham, a prolific writer of movies, books and magazine articles, died July 23, 2022, at Bryn Mawr Hospital in Bryn Mawr, Pa., of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was 78.

He always thought of himself as a Texas writer, having been born in Spur, though he was educated in the East, at Amherst College and then Princeton University, where he earned a PhD in English letters. His thesis became a popular book called “Crazy Sundays: F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood.”

Latham started his career as a beat reporter at the Washington Post in the late 1960s, moving on to writing longerform magazine articles for New York Magazine and Esquire. His 1975 profile of Gilley’s Houston honky-tonk became the movie “Urban Cowboy,” for which he wrote the screenplay. The 1980 film starred John Travolta and Debra Winger.

Latham went on to write another movie for Travolta called “Perfect,” and then “The Program,” starring James Caan, about college football.

He also wrote a book about the CIA, titled “Orchids for Mother”; another, “The Frozen Leopard,” about tracking wild animals in Africa; and three novels he thought of as a Texas trilogy.

Latham was always close to his parents in Spur: his father, Clyde Latham, a high school football coach, and his mother, Launa, who taught school and wrote and illustrated children’s books.

He is survived by his wife, journalist Lesley Stahl of NBC’s “60 Minutes”; his daughter, TV producer Taylor Latham; and two granddaughters, Jordan Major and Chloe Major.

Latham died with his wife and daughter holding him on either side, the soundtrack of “Urban Cowboy” in the air.

A graveside service will be held at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, July 28, 2022, at the Spur Memorial Cemetery under the direction of Zapata Funeral Home.