Bettina Gilois, Emmy-Nominated Writer on 'Bessie,' Dies at 58

Bettina Gilois — Getty — H 2020
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She also worked on films including 'McFarland, USA,' 'Glory Road' and 'Fire Birds.'

Bettina Gilois, an Emmy-nominated writer who worked on the screenplays for the Kevin Costner film McFarland, USA and the Queen Latifah-starring HBO biopic Bessie, has died. She was 58.

Gilois, who was battling cancer, died Sunday in her sleep at her home in Los Angeles, her friend Joshua Plant told The Hollywood Reporter.

A native of Berlin who attended Columbia University, Gilois also co-wrote the 2006 feature Glory Road, about the history-making Texas Western college basketball team of the 1960s, and The Lost Wife of Robert Durst, a 2017 Lifetime telefilm that starred Katharine McPhee.

She served as a producer on Fire Birds (1990), starring Nicolas Cage, and Triple Bogey on a Par Five Hole (1991).

In 2015, Gilois received her Emmy nom for co-writing Bessie, the story of legendary blues performer Bessie Smith. She shared the credit with Dee Rees, Christopher Cleveland and Horton Foote.

More recently, she worked on Muscle Shoals, a Johnny Depp-produced series about the famed Alabama recording studio. 

Gilois also co-wrote the 2006 book Mi Vida Loca: The Crazy Life of Johnny Tapia, about the late, troubled boxer, and Billion Dollar Painter: The Triumph and Tragedy of Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light, published in 2014.

Survivors include her son, Caliber, and daughter, Shiloh.