||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2010)|
Goldman at the 2008 Screenwriting Expo
August 12, 1931 |
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Pen name||S. Morgenstern|
|Occupation||Non-fiction author, novelist, playwright, screenwriter|
|Alma mater|| • Oberlin College (BA 1952)
• Columbia University (MA 1956)
|Genres||Drama, fiction, literature, thriller|
|Spouse(s)||Ilene Jones (1961–1991; divorced; 2 children)|
|Relative(s)||James Goldman (brother)|
William Goldman (born August 12, 1931) is an American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. He came to prominence in the 1950s as a novelist, before turning to writing for film. He has won two Academy Awards for his screenplay, first for the western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and again for All the President's Men (1974), about journalists who broke the Watergate scandal of President Richard Nixon. His other notable works include his thriller novel Marathon Man and comedy-fantasy novel The Princess Bride, both of which Goldman adapted for film.
Early life and education 
Goldman grew up in a Jewish family in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, the son of Marion (née Weil) and Maurice Clarence Goldman, who worked in business. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College in 1952 then went into the army. He knew how to type, so was sent to the Pentagon where he worked as a clerk until discharged with the rank of corporal in September 1954. He then went to Columbia University where he graduated with a Master of Arts degree in 1956. All this time he wrote short stories in the evenings, but struggled to get them published.
He and his brother James, the playwright, shared an apartment with their friend John Kander (also Oberlin and Columbia MA) and helped out Kander, a composer, by writing the libretto for his dissertation. All three later won separate Academy Awards. (Kander was the composer of Cabaret, Chicago and a dozen other famous musicals.) Goldman lives in a penthouse apartment in New York City. His brother, James Goldman, who died in 1998, was a playwright and screenwriter.
Novelist, playwright and screenwriter 
According to his memoir, Adventures in the Screen Trade (1983), Goldman began writing when he took a creative-writing course in college. His grades in the class were "horrible". An editor of Oberlin's literary magazine, he would submit short stories to the magazine anonymously; he recalls that the other editors, upon reading his submissions, remarked "We can't possibly publish this shit." He did not originally intend to become a screenwriter. His main interests were poetry, short stories, and novels. In 1956 he completed an MA thesis at Columbia University on the comedy of manners in America.
Goldman's first novel, Temple of Gold, was written in less than three weeks. Goldman published five novels, and had three plays produced on Broadway, before he began to write screenplays. He wrote mostly serious literary works until the death of his first agent,[when?] when he started writing thrillers, the first of which was Marathon Man.
Goldman began writing screenplays in his 30s when Cliff Robertson hired him to adapt Flowers for Algernon. Robertson then hired him to do some rewriting on Masquerade, which was Goldman's first screen credit.
Goldman researched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for eight years, and used Harry Longbaugh (a variant spelling of the Sundance Kid's real name) as his pseudonym for No Way to Treat a Lady. After deciding he did not want to write a cowboy novel, he turned the story into his first original screenplay and sold it for a record $400,000 in the late 1960s. Goldman felt that the script's potential, and the eight years of research involved in writing it, justified the fee. He went on to use several of his novels as the foundation for his screenplays, such as The Princess Bride. His book No Way to Treat a Lady was made into a film in 1968, but Goldman did not write the adaptation, which varied from the book.
In 1973 Goldman succumbed to a rare strain of pneumonia which resulted in him being hospitalised and affected his health for months. This inspired him into a burst of creativity, including several novels and screenplays. He says his novel writing moved in a more commercial direction following the death of his editor Hiram Haydn.
Goldman wrote the famous line "Follow the money" for the screenplay of All the President's Men; while the line is often attributed to Deep Throat, it is not found in Bob Woodward’s notes nor in Woodward and Carl Bernstein's book or articles. However, the book does have the far less quotable line from Woodward to Senator Sam Ervin, who was about to begin his own investigation: "The key was the secret campaign cash, and it should all be traced..."
Goldman was unhappy with the movie; The Guardian says that he changes the subject when asked about the movie, but suggests that his displeasure may be because he was pressured to add a romantic interest to the film. In his memoir, Goldman says of the film that if he could live his life over, he would have written the same screenplays, "Only I wouldn't have come near All the President's Men." He said that he has never written as many versions of a screenplay as he did for that movie. Speaking of his choice to write the script, he said "Many movies that get made are not long on art and are long on commerce. This was a project that seemed it might be both. You don't get many and you can't turn them down."
In Michael Feeney Callan's book Robert Redford: The Biography Redford states that Goldman didn't actually write the filming screenplay for the movie, a story that was excerpted in Vanity Fair. Written By magazine conducted a thorough investigation of the screenplay's many drafts and concluded, "Goldman was the sole author of All The President's Men. Period."
Goldman was the original screenwriter for the film version of Tom Wolfe's novel The Right Stuff; director Philip Kaufman wrote his own screenplay without using Goldman's material, because Kaufman wanted to include Chuck Yeager as a character; Goldman did not.
He wrote the screenplay for Rob Reiner's 1990 adaptation of Stephen King's novel Misery, considered "one of [King's] least adaptable novels". The movie performed well with critics and at the box office, and earned Kathy Bates an Academy Award.
Among the other scripts Goldman has written are The Stepford Wives (1975), Marathon Man (based on his novel) (1976), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Chaplin (1992), Maverick (1994) and Absolute Power (1997).
One of Goldman's best-known unproduced scripts is a pirate adventure, The Sea Kings. It reportedly was to star Sean Connery and Roger Moore as pirates Blackbeard and Bonnet, but the budget was too high and the project was scrapped.
In the 1980s Goldman wrote a series of memoirs looking at his professional life on Broadway and in Hollywood. In the first of these, Adventures in the Screen Trade, he famously summed up the entertainment industry in the opening sentence of the book, "Nobody knows anything."
Michael Sragow, reviewing The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood? and Other Essays, writes, "Much of his gruff humor and charm derives from emphatic statements of the obvious. In writing about movies, seeing the obvious is an undeniable gift—and pounding it home conveys how difficult it can be for common sense to penetrate hype. Goldman also applies a fine-honed sledgehammer to Good Will Hunting, a movie on which he consulted for one day and insists he likes. He observes that Robin Williams, playing (he chortles) 'the shrink with only one patient,' finds an awesomely simple solution to curing the mental torment of the young genius Matt Damon: he tells the boy, 'It's not your fault,' 10 times. Goldman, like a gleeful prosecutor, repeats the phrase for us 10 times, in italics.
Sragow also describes Which Lie Did I Tell? (More Adventures in the Screen Trade): "In addition to brief descriptions of topics like spitballing (brainstorming story notions) and expansions or reprints of behind-the-scenes stories already published as introductions to Goldman's screenplays, it contains famous scenes from other writers' screenplays; how-to advice on judging ideas, on turning ideas into stories and on writing them in a way that hooks the attention of a director or a star; and a partial draft of a script, with reactions from esteemed peers."
Autobiographical fiction 
||This section of a biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2011)|
Simon Morgenstern is both a pseudonym and a narrative device invented by Goldman to add another layer to his novel The Princess Bride. He presents his novel as being an abridged version of a work by the fictional Morgenstern, an author from the equally fictional country of Florin. The name may be a reference to Johann Carl Simon Morgenstern who coined the term Bildungsroman describing the genre of story.
The details of Goldman's life given in the introduction and commentary for The Princess Bride are also largely fictional. For instance, he claims his wife is a psychiatrist and that he was inspired to abridge Morgenstern's The Princess Bride for his only child, a son. (The Princess Bride actually originated as a bedtime story for Goldman's two daughters.) He not only treats Morgenstern and the countries of Florin and Guilder as real, but even claims that his own father was Florinese and had immigrated to America. At one point in The Princess Bride, Goldman's commentary indicates that he had wanted to add a passage elaborating a scene skipped over by Morgenstern. He explains that his editors would not allow him to take such liberties with the "original" text, and encourages readers to write to his publisher to request a copy of this scene. Both the original publisher and its successor have responded to such requests with letters describing their supposed legal problems with the Morgenstern estate.
In the 15th and 25th Anniversary Edition of The Princess Bride, Goldman claimed that he wanted to adapt the sequel written by Morgenstern, Buttercup's Baby, but he was unable to do so because Morgenstern's estate wanted Stephen King to do the abridgment instead. He also continued the fictional details of his own life, claiming that his psychiatrist wife had divorced him, and his son had grown to have a son of his own.
Critical reception 
In their feature on Goldman, IGN said "It's a testament to just how truly great William Goldman is at his best that I actually had to think hard about what to select as his 'Must-See' cinematic work". The site described his script for All the President's Men as a "model of storytelling clarity ... and artful manipulation".
Art Kleiner, writing in 1987, said, "William Goldman, a very skilled storyteller, wrote several of the most well-known films of the past 18 years—including Marathon Man, part of All the President's Men, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."
Goldman once said this about his own writing in 2000:
Someone pointed out to me that the most sympathetic characters in my books always died miserably. I didn't consciously know I was doing that. I didn't. I mean, I didn't wake up each morning and think, today I think I'll make a really terrific guy so I can kill him. It just worked out that way. I haven't written a novel in over a decade... and someone very wise suggested that I might have stopped writing novels because my rage was gone. Its possible. All this doesn't mean a helluva lot, except probably there is a reason I was the guy who gave Babe over to Szell in the "Is it safe?" scene and that I was the guy who put Westley into The Machine. I think I have a way with pain. When I come to that kind of sequence I have a certain confidence that I can make it play. Because I come from such a dark corner.
He has won two Academy Awards: an Award for Best Original Screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and an Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for All the President's Men. He has also won two Edgar Awards, from the Mystery Writers of America, for Best Motion Picture Screenplay: for Harper in 1967, and for Magic (adapted from his 1976 novel) in 1979.
Personal life 
Screenplays (produced) 
- Masquerade (with Michael Relph) (1965)
- Harper (1966; Edgar Award) - based on the novel by Ross Macdonald
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969; Academy Award)
- The Hot Rock (1972) - based on the novel by Donald E. Westlake
- The Stepford Wives (1975) - based on the novel by Ira Levin
- The Great Waldo Pepper (1975)
- Marathon Man (1976) - based on his novel
- All the President's Men (1976; Academy Award) - based on the book by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
- A Bridge Too Far (1977) - based on the book by Cornelius Ryan
- Magic (1978; Edgar Award) - based on his novel
- Heat (1987) - based on his novel
- The Princess Bride (1987) - based on his novel
- Twins (1988; uncredited)
- Misery (1990) - based on the novel by Stephen King
- A Few Good Men (1992; consultant) - based on the play by Aaron Sorkin
- Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)
- Year of the Comet (1992)
- Chaplin (1992)
- Indecent Proposal (1993; uncredited)
- Last Action Hero (1993; uncredited)
- Malice (1993; consultant)
- Maverick (1994) - based on the TV series
- Dolores Claiborne (1995; consultant) - based on the novel by Stephen King
- The Chamber (1996) - based on the novel by John Grisham
- Extreme Measures (1996; consultant)
- The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) - based on The Man-Eaters of Tsavo
- Fierce Creatures (1997; uncredited)
- Good Will Hunting (1997; consultant)
- Absolute Power (1997)
- The General's Daughter (1999)
- Hearts in Atlantis (2001) - based on the novel by Stephen King
- Dreamcatcher (2003) - based on the novel by Stephen King
- Heat (2014) - based on his own novel
Screenplays (unproduced) 
- Flowers for Algernon: Good Old Charley Gordon (1964) - an adaptation of the story Flowers for Algernon done for actor Cliff Robertson - Robertson was unhappy with the version and hired Stirling Silliphant to write what became Charly (1968)
- The Chill (1967) - adaptation of the 1964 Lew Archer novel by Ross Macdonald
- In the Spring the War Ended (1968) - from the novel by Stephen Linakis about American deserters in Europe at the end of World War Two. Martin Ritt was attached as director but the studio, 20th Century Fox, decided not to make it because they wanted Pentagon co-operation for Patton (1970).
- The Thing of It Is... aka That's Life (1968) - adapted from his novel
- Piano Man - adaptation of his novel Father's Day
- Papillon - adaptation of the novel which was not used
- Grand Hotel (late 1970s/early 1980s) - musical remake of the 1932 MGM film, with Norman Jewison to direct
- The Sea Kings (late 1970s) - a pirate movie about the relationship between Stede Bonnet and Blackbeard, the first of a three-picture deal with Joseph E. Levine - Goldman says he wrote the part of Blackbeard for Sean Connery and at one stage Richard Lester was attached as director - Goldman says Connery and Roger Moore were considered stars, then later Roger and Dudley Moore- however the film was too expensive to make
- The Ski Bum aka Hot Shot (1981) - based on the article "The Ski Bum as an Endangered Species" by Jean Vallely - Goldman says this was never made due to tension between the producer and the studio
- The Right Stuff - adaptation of the Tom Wolfe book that was not used
- Rescue! (1980–81) - story of the rescue of employees of Ross Perot by Arthur D. Simons during the Iranian revolution - Goldman says this foundered when Clint Eastwood, the only suitable star to play Bull Simmonds, elected to make Firefox
- Flora Quick, Dead or Alive
- The National Pastime
- Singing Out Loud - unproduced musical worked on with Rob Reiner and Stephen Sondheim
- Low Fives (1992) - comedy about an African who plays for a basketball team in a small college, commissioned by Danny De Vito and intended to star John Cleese and de Vito
- Mission Impossible 2 - script that was not used
- Mr. Horn (1979)
- The Temple of Gold (1957)
- Your Turn to Curtsy, My Turn to Bow (1958)
- Soldier in the Rain (1960)
- Boys and Girls Together (1964)
- No Way to Treat a Lady (1964)
- The Thing of It Is... (1967)
- Father's Day (1971; sequel to The Thing of It Is)
- The Princess Bride (1973)
- Marathon Man (1974)
- Magic (1976)
- Tinsel (1979)
- Control (1982)
- The Silent Gondoliers (1983)
- The Color of Light (1984)
- Heat (published in the United Kingdom as Edged Weapons) (1985)
- Brothers (1986)
Non-fiction and memoirs 
- The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway (1969)
- The Story of 'A Bridge Too Far' (1977)
- Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting (1983)
- Wait Till Next Year (with Mike Lupica) (1988)
- Hype and Glory (1990)
- Four Screenplays (1995) (Marathon Man, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Princess Bride, and Misery, with an essay on each)
- Five Screenplays (1997) (All the President's Men, Magic, Harper, Maverick, and The Great Waldo Pepper, with an essay on each)
- Which Lie Did I Tell? (More Adventures in the Screen Trade) (2000)
- The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood? and Other Essays (2001)
Children's books 
- Wigger (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974). Separated from her blanket, Wigger, an orphan nearly dies of loneliness until an extraordinary wind from Zurich brings them together again.
Short stories 
- "Something Blue", Rogue, April 1958, pp. 13–83.
- "Till the Right Girls Come Along", Transatlantic Review, 1958, pp. 50–61.
Notable articles 
- "The Good-Bye Look", New York Times Book Review, 1 June 1969, p. 1.
- He graduated from Highland Park High School in 1948. William Goldman Biography (1931-)
- Queenan, Joe (April 25, 2009). "Newman, Hoffman, Redford and me". The Guardian (London). p. 6. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
- William Goldman Papers, 1949-1997 at Columbia University
- Goldman, William (December 1, 2001) (Transcript). chat books. (Interview). CNN.com. http://www.cnn.com/COMMUNITY/transcripts/william_goldman_chat.html. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- "Butch Cassidy' Was: My Western, 'Magic' Is My Hitchcock' 'Magic' Is My Hitchcock", By RALPH TYLER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 12 Nov 1978: D23.
- "Featured Filmmaker: William Goldman". Movies. IGN. 18 February 2003. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
- Richard Andersen, William Goldman, Twayne Publishers, 1979 p 20
- Dennis Brown, Shoptalk, Newmarket Press, 1992 p 75
- Rich, Frank (12 June 2005). "Don't Follow the Money". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- Woodward & Bernstein 1974, p. 248.
- Stayton, Richard (April/May 2011). "Fade In". Written By (Los Angeles: Writers Guild of America, West). ISSN 1092-468X. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
- Lussler, Germain (May 30, 2011). "New Robert Redford Biography Claims William Goldman Didn't Write 'All The President's Men'". /Film. /Film. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
- Callan, Michael Feeney (April 2011). "Washington Monument". Vanity Fair (Condé Nast). Retrieved July 11, 2011.
- Goldman 1983, p. 39.
- Williams, Christian (February 12, 2006). "If You're Out By Monday, Never Ask Why". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL). Retrieved July 11, 2011. "I had heard that the rules were different in Hollywood, where, as the screenwriter William Goldman famously put it, 'nobody knows anything.'"
- Turan, Kenneth (January 17, 2007). "What dark horse will be the next 'Sunshine'?". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL). Retrieved July 11, 2011. "... it becomes more apparent every year that William Goldman's great rule of studio film-making applies to the independent world as well: Nobody knows anything."
- Sragow, Michael (April 9, 2000). "Famous Screenwriter's School: William Goldman on how to succeed in movies and still be ticked off". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved February 18, 2013.
- Zipes, Jack (1995). "Recent Trends in the Contemporary American Fairy Tale". In Sanders, Joseph L. (ed.). Functions of the Fantastic: selected essays from the Thirteenth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy. 65. Thirteenth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 8–9. ISBN 978-0-313-29521-8. "Goldman recreates himself as the fictitious author of this work; that is, he uses a mask in the tradition of eighteenth-century novels ..."
- Kleiner, Art (Summer 1987). "Adventures in the Screen Trade". Whole Earth Review (San Francisco: Point Foundation). Text "page 120" ignored (help)
- Goldman, 2000 p 151-152
- Taylor, Angela (1973-08-26). "Fashions For Fall Looking Good On The Go. - On The Go On The Go - Article - Nytimes.Com". Select.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
- "Archives | The Dallas Morning News, dallasnews.com". Nl.newsbank.com. 1986-08-27. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
- Ilson, Carol, Harold Prince: a director's journey p56
- Series IV: Manuscripts William Goldman papers at Columbia University
- Goldman, 2000 p 238-239
- Goldman, 1982 p 262-273
- 'EXCERPT from 'Which Lie Did I Tell? More Adventures in the Screen Trade' by William Goldman
- Just mean to the girls, The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 11 Aug 1979: 11.
- Goldman, 2000 p 6-7
- Goldman, 2000 p 8
- Goldman, 2000 p 267-268
- "Wigger". WorldCat. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
Books cited 
- Goldman, William (1983). Adventures in the Screen Trade. Abacus. ISBN 978-0-349-10705-9.
- Goldman, William, Which Lie Did I Tell?, Bloomsbury 2000
- Woodward, Bob; Bernstein, Carl (1974). All the President's Men. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-21781-5.
- William Goldman at the Internet Movie Database
- Works by William Goldman on Open Library at the Internet Archive
- William Goldman at WN