Calder Willingham papers

Calder Willingham papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Hargrett Manuscripts
Creator: Willingham, Calder, 1922-1995
Title: Calder Willingham papers
Dates: 1949-1985
Quantity: 5.8 Linear feet (13 document boxes, 3 half boxes)
Abstract:The collection consists of papers of Calder Willingham from 1949-1985. The majority of the collection consists of drafts of manuscripts; drafts and proofs of the ETERNAL FIRE; and annotated screenplays of several film and stage productions that Willingham either wrote or collaborated on. The papers also contain some correspondence (1949-1979) to and from other writers, agents, and publishers. In additional, there are unmailed letters by Willingham, written mainly to vent his opinion on a particular matter or situation, not with the intention of mailing them. Of particular interest are the annotated screenplays of several film and stage productions that Willingham either wrote or collaborated on. These include "The Graduate," "Little Big Man," "Patton," and "Paths of Glory."
Coll. Number: ms2443

Biographical/Historical Note

Calder Willingham was an accomplished novelist, playwright, and screenwriter who created some of the most memorable characters in the American cinematic and literary canons. Characterized by raw sexual overtones, several of Willingham's novels are set in the South, with Georgia providing the backdrop for two of his novels, Eternal Fire and Rambling Rose. Born in Atlanta on December 23, 1922, Calder Baynard Willingham grew up in Rome. Upon graduating from high school, he enrolled briefly at the Citadel, a military college in Charleston, South Carolina. His experience there provided him with fodder for his first novel, End as a Man. After completing his education at the University of Virginia, Willingham moved north to New York City, where he associated with many of the era's literary giants, including Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and Gore Vidal. When End as a Man appeared in 1947, Willingham established himself as a leading author in his own right. The novel presented a scathing and lurid assessment of the overblown machismo Willingham encountered at the Citadel.

A reviewer for the Washington Post Book World, writing many years later in 1987, called the author "a dangerous sort of writer, mucking about with all sorts of taboos, his dark humor not always covering his tracks." Obscenity charges were filed but later dropped against the book's publisher, Vanguard Press, and in 1953, a theatrical adaptation of the novel enjoyed an off-Broadway success. Willingham wrote the screenplay for a 1957 film version of the work, entitled The Strange One, which marked the film debut of actor Ben Gazzara.

Willingham spent the next several years as a screenwriter, working with several prominent actors and producers and cowriting such films as Paths of Glory (1957) and One-Eyed Jacks (1961). Willingham and Buck Henry collaborated on the screenplay for The Graduate (1967), which they adapted from a novel by Charles Webb. The film, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, became one of the most popular and acclaimed films of 1967, and critics continue to hold it in high esteem. The screenplay earned Henry and Willingham an Academy Award nomination for its fairly ruthless dissection of middle-class hypocrisy, materialism, and lifelessness. Three years later, Willingham again earned accolades for his screen adaptation of the Thomas Berger novel Little Big Man (1970). Also starring Dustin Hoffman, this comedic drama turns the traditional "heroic" tale of the American West on its head by focusing on the apocryphal life and times of Jack Crabb, the lone white survivor of Custer's last stand. Over the next two decades, Willingham continued to write novels and adapt screenplays for television and Hollywood, although never with the same success he enjoyed with The Graduate and Little Big Man.

In 1972 he published Rambling Rose, a semiautobiographical account of Willingham's adolescence in Rome. The story revolves around the sexual tensions that emerge when a rural Georgia family hires Rose, an alluring housemaid from Birmingham, Alabama. In 1991 Willingham adapted the novel for film. Starring Laura Dern, Robert Duvall, and Diane Ladd, the film received lukewarm reviews but earned Academy Award nominations for both Dern and Ladd. Despite his years as a screenwriter, Willingham did not see much value in his work for Hollywood and considered his calling to be that of a novelist. His other novels include Geraldine Bradshaw (1950), Reach to the Stars (1951), Natural Child (1952), To Eat a Peach (1955), Eternal Fire (1963), Providence Island (1969), The Big Nickel (1975), and The Building of Venus Four (1977).

He also published a collection of stories and nonfiction, The Gates of Hell, in 1951. As a fiction writer, Willingham worked in a variety of genres, spanning conventional coming-of-age plots to science fiction to narratives about sex and family life. Eternal Fire, in particular, satirizes the tradition of Southern Gothic fiction. On February 19, 1995, Willingham died of lung cancer in Laconia, New Hampshire. In 2006 the Writers Guilds of America, east and west, placed the script for The Graduate at number 13 on their list of the 101 greatest screenplays. He was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2008. New Georgia Encyclopedia - Calder Willingham (1922-1995) http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-1244 (Retrieved January 5, 2010)


Arrangement

Arranged by record type.


Index Terms

American literature--20th century
Authors, American--Georgia.
Dramatists--Georgia.
Motion pictures--United States.
Screenplays.
Screenwriters--Georgia.
Scripts (documents)

General Notes

Cataloged as part of the Georgia Archives and Manuscripts Automated Access Project: A Special Collections Gateway Program of the University Center in Georgia.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Calder Willingham papers. MS 2443. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries.

Provenance

The Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library purchased the papers of novelist and screenwriter Calder Willingham in February of 1986.


Related Material

For other Calder Willingham collections in the Hargrett Library, see also Calder Willingham "Rambling Rose" script, MS 3779; Calder Willingham "On the Yard" screenplay, MS 3351; Calder Willingham "Toscanini and Picasso" script, MS 3491; Calder Willingham letter to Wesley Hartley, MS 3510; and Calder Willingham typescript and letter, MS 3696.


Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

 

Series 1: Correspondence

Box
1Series 1 Correspondence
Correspondence, 1949-1959
Correspondence, 1960-1969
Correspondence, 1970-1979
Correspondence, Undated
Unmailed correspondence to Pauline Kael
"Unmailed letters mailed late"
Correspondence - Andrew Mayne, 1992 - 1993
Correspondence - Steven Spielberg, 1993
 

Series 2: Drafts and Proofs

Box
2Series 2 Drafts and Proofs
Miscellaneous Drafts
Miscellaneous Drafts
Draft; Acidosis
Draft; Advice to Pinkie
Draft; After Love Animals are Sad
Draft; Alcestis
Draft; Bee and the Blossom
Draft; Binaural Amplification
Draft; Blind Date
Draft; Bus Travel Makes a Man Passionate
Draft; Clud Rides Again
Draft; Destination Nowhere
Draft; Expedience
Draft; Ham Ector
Draft; A Hermeneutical Note by The Author
Draft; Ideas for Musical Comedies
Draft; I'll Keep You in Mind
Draft; The Importance of Norway
Draft; A Little Man is Following Me
Draft; Magic is So Seldom
Draft; Me Healt Comes Foist
Draft; True Myth Maker of the Post Bellum South
Draft; Notes on a Rotting Goose
Draft; Notes on Marjorie Morningstar
Draft; Notes on Revisions of "Family Reunion"
Draft; The Old Man on the Subject of Jewdom
Draft; The Peckerpucking Pond
Draft; Pop Literature
Draft; Robert Marquales
Draft; The Sad and Awful Plight of Contemporary Literature
Draft; The Shrunk Inheritance
Draft; Something About Dixie
Draft; Thieves Like Us
Draft; Torture the Pony
Draft; A Trip South
Draft; The Valley of a Thousand Smokes
Draft; The Voyage of the Espy
Draft; What Star So Humble
Draft; What Mrs. Sexsmith Said
BoxFolder
31Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
3Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
4Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
5Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
BoxFolder
41Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
3Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
4Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
BoxFolder
51Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
3Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
4Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
5Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
6Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
BoxFolder
61Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
3Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
4Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
5Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
6Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
7Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
BoxFolder
71Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
3Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
4Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
5Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
6Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
7Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
BoxFolder
81Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
3Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
4Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
5Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
6Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
7Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
BoxFolder
91Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
3Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
4Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
5Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
6Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
7Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
8Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
BoxFolder
101Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
3Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
4Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
5Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
6Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
7Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
8Drafts, Proofs; The Eternal Fire
 

Series 3: Bound Volumes

Box
11Series 3 Bound Volumes
The Automobile Man
The Building of Venus Four Part 1
The Building of Venus Four Part 2, Part 3
End as a Man
End as a Man (copy 2)
The Gold Ram
The Sign of the Ram
Box
12 In His Steps
The Last One Left
The Last One Left (copy 2)
Little Big Man
Little Big Man (copy 2)
Box
13 Paths of Glory
Paths of Glory (copy 2)
Patton
Patton (copy 2)
Providence Island
Box
14 The Ten Commandments
A Widow's Mite
Time and Tide
Toscanini and Picasso
Ruined Milk
The World and William Walker
 

Series 4: The Coming of Harry Diadem

BoxFolder
15Galley ProofSeries 4 The Coming of Harry Diadem
 
BoxFolder
15ATexts The Big Nickel
 
Texts The Building of Venus Four
 
Texts Reach to the Stars