A Brief Affair That Spawned a Fortune

Posted on May 11, 2017 by Martin Oaks under Memorial
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Robert James Waller

Robert James Waller, an author with a Midas touch, recently passed away at the age of 77 in Fredericksburg, Texas. His “The Bridges of Madison County” was a small idea that produced a prodigious fortune.

While on sabbatical in the early 1990’s, he photographed the atmospheric covered bridges in Madison County, Iowa, an experience which inspired a pitch-perfect plot for a seminal love affair. Written in about two weeks, “Madison County” forthrightly recounted a four day romance between a free spirited photographer and married Italian War bride. Some found it “trite,” others “syrupy,” but the general public’s verdict was decidedly positive.

The Bridges of Madison County

The novel became one of the bestselling books of the century – more than 60 million copies sold around the world. It was number one on the New York Times bestseller list in 1992; it remained on the list for more than 3 years. Embraced by major figures such as Oprah Winfrey, this sentimental, almost ingenuous tale struck a nerve: love found and lost, a yearning that is life changing, memories that refuse to die — all themes with deep appeal.

bridges of madison county

In 1995, Clint Eastwood produced and directed a film version. It too was a golden egg: more than $182 million worldwide gross. Not quite as lean as the book, and perhaps not quite as much as an overkill, it has an unhurried pace which draws the viewer into the material. Critics found it both “schmaltzy” and “satisfying.” It earned Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination in 1996.

The Bridges” legacy continued in 2013 as a musical. Not as popular in this form, it nonetheless received Drama Desk, Outer Critic’s Circle, Drama League, and Tony nominations.

Waller returned to the material twice with “A Thousand Country Roads,” and “High Plains Tango,” novels that did not produce spectacular sales.

The legacy of “Bridges” continued in Waller’s life up until the time he passed away – he received letters from readers to his very end.

He was cremated by a local Fredericksburg, Texas Funeral Home.


Call Martin Oaks for an immediate response (469)605-7215. Inexpensive, affordable cremation services are available through the funeral directors who work with Martin Oaks in and around the DFW area. We are the affordable option. Onsite cremation. All services must be arranged through the licensed funeral directors who work with Martin Oaks.

Martin Oaks is located in Lewisville, TX, right between Flower Mound, TX and Denton, TX, minutes from Richardson and neighboring DFW areas.






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