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William Goldman

William Goldman


Screenwriter, Writer, Playwright
Date of Birth: August 12th, 1931
Sign: Leo
Place of Birth: Highland Park, Illinois, USA
Education: Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio; Columbia University New York
Creative Artists Agency (CAA)
9830 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212, USA
Tel.: 310-288-4545
Fax.: 310-288-4800
Personal quote: Nobody Knows Anything. (referring to Hollywood)
Because he is not a director or an actor, many people outside the movie industry do not know the name William Goldman, but those within or around the industry certainly do. Joe Roth, a producer and former chairman of Walt Disney studios, has declared Goldman "the most observant, knowledgeable and intuitive screenwriter in the business today." Not only has he written some of the most memorable and loved screenplays to date, but his numerous novels on the screen trade have described a brutally honest look at the motion picture industry that even those wearing rose colored glasses can't deny. 

William Goldman was born on August 12th, 1931 in Highland Park, Illinois, USA. He began his professional writing career in his early to mid 20's. He wrote many short stories of which most if not all were rejected. He also wrote three plays including Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole and A Family Affair (both of these in 1961). All three of his plays opened on Broadway, and all three were big disasters. Goldman had also written five novels up to this point, The Temple of Gold (1957), Your Turn to Curtsy, My Turn to Bow (1958), Soldier in the Rain (1960), Boys and Girls Together (1964), and No Way to Treat a Lady (1964). Two of these books, Soldier in the Rain and No Way to Treat a Lady, were both adapted into films, although Goldman did not have anything to do with the writing of the screenplay.

In 1964, Goldman was finally asked by Cliff Robertson to write a screenplay. He had never really seen a screenplay, but wrote one for Robertson and sent it to him. The screenplay was rejected and Goldman was subsequently fired. 
After doctoring a screenplay for Masquerade in 1965, Goldman's next venture into the scriptwriting business came in 1966, when a producer whom had read Boys and Girls Together approached him. Goldman found an interesting novel by author Ross Macdonald and told the producer that he would write a script on speculation (not getting paid until the work was completed), as he did for most of his work at that time. The script was named Harper, the movie stared Paul Newman and was Goldman's first hit as a screenwriter.

After the success of Harper, another producer asked Goldman to adapt a screenplay from a World War 2 novel by author Stephen Linakis titled In the Spring the War Ended. The script was liked and was passed around Fox studios, the studio that owned the rights to the novel. Unfortunately at the time, Fox was also embarking on a World War 2 epic entitled Patton. Goldman's script was buried and never pursued.

One night, he asked his 4 and 7 year old daughters what they wanted his next story to be about, one replied "princesses," the other "brides." Thus The Princess Bride was born. 

Over Christmas vacation in 1965-1966, Goldman was teaching creative writing at Princeton University in New Jersey. During this time he wrote a screenplay called Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Initially every studio he showed it to turned down the screenplay. Eventually 20th Century Fox took on the project and William Goldman's place in movie history was set. From that moment on, Goldman new writing screenplays was going to be a big part of his life. Even today he considers George Roy Hill the greatest director he has ever worked with, and this particular movie stands as Goldman's biggest commercial success of his career. 

Following the success of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Goldman continued to write both novels and screenplays. In 1973 he wrote the novel The Princess Bride. The title of the novel came about through his daughters, who at the time were 7 and 4. He would make up bedtime stories for them, and one night, asking them what they wanted his next story to be about, one replied "princesses," the other "brides." It took along time and a lot of heartache for Goldman to complete the novel, and he admits that to this day it is the only novel of his that he really likes. Although Goldman wrote the screenplay for the film shortly after he wrote the novel, many years passed before the movie became a reality.

Goldman's next few screenplays, The Hot Rock (1972), The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), and The Stepford Wives (1975) were relatively successful, but it was in 1976 when he adapted the screenplay for All the President's Men that he once again received acclaim for writing one of the years best.

After the death of long time friend and editor Hiram Haydn (which occurred just after he edited The Princess Bride), Goldman decided he would really like to write a thriller. He remembered as a child having to go to the dentist, and how this particular dentist did not believe in Novocain. This became the basis for his novel Marathon Man, which was later, adapted into a screenplay and released in 1976. Goldman's next two screenplays, A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Magic (1978) were also adapted from novels that he had written years before.

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