Robert Towne, an Academy Award-winning screenwriter who wrote the 1974 classic Chinatown during a career that spanned more than five decades, has died. He was 89.

Multiple media outlets reported Tuesday, July 2, that Towne’s publicist Carri McClure shared that the screenwriter and film producer died Monday, July 1, at his Los Angeles home. The Associated Press added that his publicist noted that he was surrounded by family and that she would not comment on his cause of death.

Towne was born on November 23, 1934 in Los Angeles. He is best remembered for winning an Oscar at the 1975 Academy Awards for his screenplay for Chinatownstarring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway and directed by Roman Polanski. His win came in the midst of three consecutive years of nominations for his screenplays; in 1974 he received a nomination for writing The last detailwhich also starred Nicholson, and in 1976 Towne and Warren Beatty were both nominated for Best Original Screenplay for their work on the film Shampoo.

Towne’s first few film screenplays came for productions directed by Roger Corman in the early 1960s, as well as television episodes for The Outer Borders, Breaking point And The Lloyd Bridges Showamong others. He notably first worked with Beatty, now 87, as an uncredited script consultant on his classic 1967 film Bonnie and Clydewhich paved the way for a long career as a ‘script writer’ for films, although he did not write them entirely.

Robert Towne.

E. Charbonneau/WireImage


Other films on which Towne worked as an uncredited writer include: The godfather1974 The Parallax View and 1978 Heaven can wait. The godfather filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola even thanked Towne at the 1973 Oscars for writing The godfather‘s iconic garden scene between Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, while accepting the award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

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In 1985, Towne also received a fourth Oscar nomination for his work on the 1984 film. Greystroke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Towards the end of the 20th century and into the 21st century, he wrote several films starring Tom Cruise, including the first two Mission Impossible movies and also from the 90s Days of thunderstorms and 1993’s The firm.

Robert Towne in 1981.

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Towne’s last screenwriting credits were for the 2006 film Ask the dust and two episodes of the 2010s television series Welcome to the basementHe was also listed as a consulting producer on the seventh season of Mad menaccording to IMDb.

According to multiple sources, Towne is survived by his wife Luisa Towne, his two daughters (one of whom was from a previous marriage to the late actress Julie Payne) and his brother Roger.