Peter Bogdanovich (Serbian: Петар Богдановић, Petar Bogdanović, born July 30, 1939) is an American film historian, director, writer, actor, producer, and critic. He was part of the wave of "New Hollywood" directors, which included William Friedkin, Brian De Palma, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Michael Cimino, and Francis Ford Coppola. His most critically acclaimed film is The Last Picture Show (1971).
The son of immigrants fleeing the Nazis - his father, Borislav Bogdanovich, is a Serbian painter and pianist and his mother, Herma Bogdanovich, descended from an Austrian Jewish family - Bogdanovich was conceived in Europe but born in America. He was an actor in the 1950s, studying his craft with acting teacher Stella Adler (he was only 16 but lied about his age and said he was 18 to qualify), and appeared on television and in summer stock. In the early 1960s, Bogdanovich was known as a film programmer at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. An obsessive cinema-goer, seeing up to 400 movies a year in his youth, Bogdanovich showcased the work of American directors such as Orson Welles and John Ford, whom he later wrote a book about based on the notes he had produced for the MoMA retrospective of the director, and Howard Hawks. Bogdanovich also brought attention to such forgotten pioneers of American cinema as Allan Dwan.
Bogdanovich was influenced by the French critics of the 1950s who wrote for Cahiers du Cinéma, especially critic-turned-director François Truffaut. Before becoming a director himself, he built his reputation as a film writer with articles in Esquire. These articles were collected in Pieces of Time (1973). In 1968, following the example of Cahiers du Cinéma critics Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, and Éric Rohmer who had created the Nouvelle Vague ("New Wave") by making their own films, Bogdanovich decided to become a director. With his wife Polly Platt, he headed for Los Angeles, skipping out on the rent in the process. Intent on breaking into the industry, Bogdanovich would ask publicists for movie premiere and industry party invitations. At one screening, Bogdanovich was viewing a film and director Roger Corman was sitting behind him. The two struck up a conversation when Corman mentioned he liked a cinema piece Bogdanovich wrote for Esquire. Corman offered him a directing job which Bogdanovich accepted immediately. He worked with Corman on Targets, which starred Boris Karloff, and Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women, under the pseudonym Derek Thomas. Bogdanovich later said of the Corman school of filmmaking, "I went from getting the laundry to directing the picture in three weeks. Altogether, I worked 22 weeks – preproduction, shooting, second unit, cutting, dubbing – I haven't learned as much since."