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1989: Gore Vidal's Billy the Kid Debuts on TNT
May 10, 2012  | By Christy Slewinski
 
On this day in 1989, TNT debuted the made-for-TV movie Gore Vidal's Billy the Kid. The film, starring Val Kilmer, told the story of legendary American outlaw William H. Bonney. Kilmer's co-stars included Wilford Brimley, Duncan Regehr, John O'Hurley and Ned Vaughn. Author Gore Vidal had an uncredited role as a preacher in the film. The 1989 film gave Vidal a second opportunity to tell the story of Billy the Kid the way he felt it should be told.

In July, 1955, NBC's Philco TV Playhouse presented Vidal's teleplay, The Death of Billy the Kid, starring a young Paul Newman in the title role. Following the acclaimed TV broadcast, Warner Bros. purchased the movie rights to Vidal's story, and hired first-time film director Arthur Penn - whose future works would include Bonnie and Clyde and Little Big Man - to helm the project. Newman, once again, portrayed Billy the Kid. The finished product, 1958's The Left Handed Gun, was a colossal disappointment to the author. 
 
 
 
 
 
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