Bill Wittliff stories

Bill Wittliff, the Texas screenwriter who wrote the teleplay for the iconic miniseries Lonesome Dove, died on Sunday in Austin at age 79.

Witliff co-wrote Honeysuckle Rose (1980) and wrote Red Headed Stranger (1986) starring Willie Nelson.  He wrote Barbarosa (1982) starring both Willie Nelson and Gary Busey.

Witliff joined J.P. Bryan for a conversation at The Bryan Museum in Galveston on August 4, 2018. He shared stories of growing up during World War II with his mother, who ran a small telephone office in Gregory, Texas. He used that as the foundation for Raggedy Man, a film starring Sissy Spacek playing a version of his mom. He also shared a couple of slightly off-color stories about Willie Nelson and Gary Busey. Watch the video below if you don’t mind a few curse words.

After he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, Wittliff and his wife founded The Encino Press, an Austin-based book publishing company that specialized in tales about Texas and the Southwest, in 1964. 

To preserve the creative process of authors and artists in this region, Witliff and his wife Sally created The Wittliff Collections, including manuscripts from Larry McMurtry, Horton Foote, and J. Frank Dobie; more than 19,000 photographs of the Southwest and Mexico, and music from Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

According to reports, Wittliff and Sally had celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary Saturday, and he died after visiting their Plum Creek ranch near Luling, Texas.

His survivors also include his children, William and Allison; his brother, James, and several grandchildren. Article written by

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