Robert Altman (February 20, 1925 to November 20, 2006) was one of America’s greatest and most original film directors, starting with M*A*S*H, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye, then onto Nashville and 3 Women, and the rather disastrous Popeye, starring Robin Williams. One of his best known films is Short Cuts, which introduced Julianne Moore to the big screen. Perhaps he’s best known for satirizing Hollywood so bravely – and sardonically – in The Player (1992). Gosford Park near the end of his career, was a surprise big hit – the writer of it, Julian Fellowes, going on to create Downton Abbey.
Altman was a true Hollywood outsider – who was considered an insider. He got five Oscar nominations for best director, but showed up to every industry event high on marijuana – and proud of it. He was the pioneer of large ensemble casts, and of characters speaking on top of each other – almost hyper natural speech.
Also having moved on to the other side on November 20 in history are the epic novelist (War & Peace, Anna Karenina) Leo Tolstoy (in 1910, of pneumonia at 82, and the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco (1936 to 1975).