Joan Didion, Iconic Journalist, Dead at 87

Portrait of American author Joan Didion as she sits in a chair in front of a bookshelf, Berkeley, California, April 1981.
Janet Fries/Getty Images

The groundbreaking American writer died after a battle with Parkinson's disease.

Groundbreaking American writer Joan Didion died at her home in Manhattan on Thursday after a battle with Parkinson's disease, The New York Times reports. She was 87 years old.

Didion began her career in the '60s, when she won a Vogue magazine essay contest. The University of California, Berkeley graduate went on to publish five novels and six screenplays. She won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2005 and was a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Biography/Autobiography for her book, The Year of Magical Thinking.

Didion was also known for covering the Hollywood lifestyle, as well as her political writing. 

"She was fearless, original and a marvelous observer," Robert B. Silvers, who was the editor of The New York Review of Books, which began publishing Didion's work in the 1970s, said in a 2009 interview with The New York Times. "She was very skeptical of the conventional view and brilliant at finding the person or situation that was telling about the broader picture. She was a great reporter."

She was the subject of a 2017 Netflix documentary, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, about her life and work. Most recently, she published Let Me Tell You What I Mean, a collection of 12 essays she wrote between 1968 and 2000.

Didion experienced two tragedies in her personal life that inspired her most critically acclaimed work. 2005's The Year of Magical Thinking was about the grief she experienced after the sudden death of her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne, after he suffered a heart attack in 2003. She wrote 2011's Blue Nights about the 2005 death of their daughter, Quintana, from acute pancreatitis.

For more stars we've lost this year, see the clip below: