'Forrest Gump' author Winston Groom dead at 77

FILE - In this Aug. 21, 1995, file photo, Winston Groom, author of "Forrest Gump," the book on which the film was based, signs copies of "Gump & Co.," the sequel to "Forrest Gump", at a New York City bookstore. Groom, the author of the novel "Forrest Gump" that was made into a six-Oscar winning 1994 movie that became a soaring pop culture hit, has died, an Alabama official close to the writer said Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. He was 77. (AP Photo/Anders Krusberg, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 21, 1995, file photo, Winston Groom, author of "Forrest Gump," the book on which the film was based, signs copies of "Gump & Co.," the sequel to "Forrest Gump", at a New York City bookstore. Groom, the author of the novel "Forrest Gump" that was made into a six-Oscar winning 1994 movie that became a soaring pop culture hit, has died, an Alabama official close to the writer said Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. He was 77. (AP Photo/Anders Krusberg, File) (AP1995)

FAIRHOPE, Ala. – Winston Groom, the writer whose novel “Forrest Gump” was made into a six-Oscar winning 1994 movie that became a soaring pop cultural phenomenon, has died at age 77.

Mayor Karin Wilson of Fairhope, Alabama, said in a message on social media that Groom had died in that south Alabama town. A local funeral home also confirmed the death and said arrangements were pending.

“While he will be remembered for creating Forrest Gump, Winston Groom was a talented journalist & noted author of American history. Our hearts & prayers are extended to his family,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.

“Forrest Gump” was the improbable tale of a slow-witted but mathematically gifted man who was a participant or witness to key points of 20th Century history — from Alabama segregationist Gov. George Wallace's “stand at the schoolhouse door," to meetings with presidents.

It was the best known book by Groom, who grew up in Mobile, Alabama, and graduated from the University of Alabama in 1965, according to a biography posted by the university.

Groom served in the Army’s Fourth Infantry Division from 1965 to 1969, the university said. His service included a tour in Vietnam — one of the settings for “Forrest Gump.”

He wrote 16 books, fiction and nonfiction. One, “Conversations with the Enemy,” about a American prisoner of war in Vietnam accused of collaboration, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, according to the university.

It was “Forrest Gump” — and the success of the 1994 movie starring Tom Hanks in the iconic role of Gump, as well as Sally Field and Gary Sinise — that earned him widespread fame and some financial success.