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William Goldman (August 12, 1931 – November 16, 2018) was an American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. He first came to prominence in the 1950s as a novelist before turning to screenwriting. He won Academy Awards for his screenplays '' Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'' (1969) and ''
All the President's Men ''All the President's Men'' is a 1974 non-fiction book by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, two of the journalists who investigated the June 1972 break-in at the Watergate Office Building and the resultant political scandal for ''The Washingto ...
'' (1976). His other well-known works include his thriller novel '' Marathon Man'' (1974) and his cult classic comedy/fantasy novel '' The Princess Bride'' (1973), both of which he also adapted for film versions.


Early life

Goldman was born into a Jewish family in Chicago in 1931 and grew up in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, the second son of Marion (née Weil) and Maurice Clarence Goldman. Goldman's father initially was a successful businessman, working in Chicago and in a partnership, but he suffered from alcoholism, which cost him his business. He "came home to live and he was in his pajamas for the last five years of his life," according to Goldman. His father committed suicide while Goldman was still in high school. His mother was deaf, which created additional stress in the home.


Education

Goldman received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College in
Ohio Ohio () is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. Of the fifty U.S. states, it is the 34th-largest by area, and with a population of nearly 11.8 million, is the seventh-most populous and tenth-most densely populated. The sta ...
in 1952. The
Korean War , date = {{Ubl, 25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953 (''de facto'')({{Age in years, months, weeks and days, month1=6, day1=25, year1=1950, month2=7, day2=27, year2=1953), 25 June 1950 – present (''de jure'')({{Age in years, months, weeks a ...
was on, so he was drafted into the
Army An army (from Old French ''armee'', itself derived from the Latin verb ''armāre'', meaning "to arm", and related to the Latin noun ''arma'', meaning "arms" or "weapons"), ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on ...
shortly thereafter.Goldman, William 1931- (Harry Longbaugh, S. Morgenstern); PERSONAL
Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
Because he knew how to type, he was assigned as a clerk in
the Pentagon The Pentagon is the headquarters building of the United States Department of Defense. It was constructed on an accelerated schedule during World War II. As a symbol of the U.S. military, the phrase ''The Pentagon'' is often used as a meton ...
, Defense headquarters. He was discharged with the rank of corporal in September 1954. He returned to graduate studies under the GI Bill, earning a Master of Arts degree at
Columbia University Columbia University (also known as Columbia, and officially as Columbia University in the City of New York) is a private research university in New York City. Established in 1754 as King's College on the grounds of Trinity Church in Manhatt ...
, graduating in 1956. Throughout this period, he was writing short stories in the evenings, but struggled to have them published.


Career


Novelist

According to his memoir '' Adventures in the Screen Trade'' (1983), Goldman began to write when he took a creative-writing course in college. His grades in the class were "horrible". He was an editor of Oberlin's literary magazine. He submitted his short stories to the magazine anonymously; he recalls that the other editors read his submissions and 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 a master's thesis at Columbia University on the comedy of manners in America. His older brother
James Goldman James Goldman (June 30, 1927 – October 28, 1998) was an American playwright and screenwriter. He won an Academy Award for his screenplay '' The Lion in Winter'' (1968). His younger brother was novelist and screenwriter William Goldman. Biog ...
was a playwright and screenwriter. They shared an apartment in New York with their friend John Kander. Kander, who also an alumnus of Oberlin, was working on his PhD in music, and the Goldman brothers wrote the libretto for his dissertation. Kander was the composer of more than a dozen musicals, including ''
Cabaret Cabaret is a form of theatrical entertainment featuring music, song, dance, recitation, or drama. The performance venue might be a pub, a casino, a hotel, a restaurant, or a nightclub with a stage for performances. The audience, often dining o ...
'' and ''
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive Map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name ...
'', and all three of them eventually won Academy Awards. On June 25, 1956, Goldman began writing his first novel '' The Temple of Gold'', completing it in less than three weeks. He sent the manuscript to agent Joe McCrindle, who agreed to represent him; McCrindle submitted the novel to Knopf, who agreed to publish it if he doubled the length. It sold well enough in paperback to launch Goldman on his career. He wrote his second novel '' Your Turn to Curtsy, My Turn to Bow'' (1958) in a little more than a week. It was followed by ''Soldier in the Rain'' (1960), based on Goldman's time in the military. It sold well in paperback and was turned into a film, though Goldman had no involvement in the screenplay.


Theater work

Goldman and his brother received a grant to do some rewriting on the musical '' Tenderloin'' (1960). They then collaborated on their own play, ''
Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole ''Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole'' is a 1961 play by American brothers and playwrights James Goldman and William Goldman near the beginning of their careers. Both had served in the army in the 1950s. The comedy is about a supply sergeant at an ar ...
'' (1961), and on the musical, '' A Family Affair'' (1962), written with John Kander. Both plays had short runs. Goldman began writing ''
Boys and Girls Together ''Boys and Girls Together'' is a 1964 novel by William Goldman. The title is taken from lyrics in the song, "The Sidewalks of New York". Background Goldman says his creative impulse behind the book was his desire to write a long novel: At the tim ...
'', but found that he suffered
writer's block Writer's block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author is either unable to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown. Mike Rose found that this creative stall is not a result of commitment problems or th ...
. His writer's block continued, but he had an idea for the novel '' No Way to Treat a Lady'' (1964) based on the Boston Strangler. He wrote it in two weeks, and it was published under the pseudonym Harry Longbaugh—a variant spelling of the Sundance Kid's real name, which Goldman had been researching since the late 1950s. He then finished ''Boys and Girls Together'', which became a best seller.


Screenwriter

Cliff Robertson Clifford Parker Robertson III (September 9, 1923 – September 10, 2011) was an American actor whose career in film and television spanned over six decades. Robertson portrayed a young John F. Kennedy in the 1963 film '' PT 109'', and won the 19 ...
read an early draft of ''No Way to Treat a Lady'' and hired Goldman to adapt the short story ''
Flowers for Algernon ''Flowers for Algernon'' is a short story by American author Daniel Keyes, later expanded by him into a novel and subsequently adapted for film and other media. The short story, written in 1958 and first published in the April 1959 issue of '' ...
'' for the movies. Before he had even finished the script, Robertson recommended him to do some rewriting on the spy spoof '' Masquerade'' (1965), in which Robertson was starring. Goldman did that, then finished the ''Algernon'' script. Robertson disliked it, though, and hired
Stirling Silliphant Stirling Dale Silliphant (January 16, 1918 – April 26, 1996) was an American screenwriter and producer. He is best remembered for his screenplay for '' In the Heat of the Night'', for which he won an Academy Award in 1967, and for creating ...
, instead, to work on what became ''
Charly ''Charly'' (marketed and stylized as ''CHAЯLY'') is a 1968 American drama film directed and produced by Ralph Nelson and written by Stirling Silliphant. It is based on ''Flowers for Algernon'', a science-fiction short story (1958) and subseque ...
'' (1968). Producer Elliot Kastner had optioned the film rights to ''Boys and Girls Together''. Goldman suggested that Kastner make a film of the
Lew Archer Lew Archer is a fictional character created by American-Canadian writer Ross Macdonald. Archer is a private detective working in Southern California. Between the late 1940s and the early '70s, the character appeared in 18 novels and a handful o ...
novels of Ross Macdonald and offered to do an adaptation. Kastner agreed, and Goldman chose '' The Moving Target''. The result was '' Harper'' (1966) starring Paul Newman, which was a big hit.


''Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid''

Goldman returned to novels, writing '' The Thing of It Is...'' (1967). He taught at
Princeton Princeton University is a private research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the ni ...
and wished to write something, but he could not come up with an idea for a novel. Instead, he wrote '' Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'', his first original screenplay, which he had been researching for eight years. He sold it for $400,000, the highest price ever paid for an original screenplay at that time. The movie was released in 1969, a critical and commercial success that earned Goldman an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The money enabled Goldman to take some time off and research the nonfiction '' The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway'' (1969). Goldman adapted Steven Linakis's novel ''In the Spring the War Ended'' into a screenplay, but it was not filmed. Neither were scripts of ''The Thing of It Is'', which came close to being made several times in the early '70s, and '' Papillon'', on which he worked for six months and three drafts; the book was filmed, but little of Goldman's work was used. He returned to novels with ''
Father's Day Father's Day is a holiday of honoring fatherhood and paternal bonds, as well as the influence of fathers in society. In Catholic countries of Europe, it has been celebrated on 19 March as Saint Joseph's Day since the Middle Ages. In the Unite ...
'' (1971), a sequel to ''The Thing of It Is…''. He also wrote the screenplay for '' The Hot Rock'' (1972).


''The Princess Bride''

Goldman's next novel was '' The Princess Bride'' (1973); he also wrote a screenplay, but it was more than a decade before the film was made. That same year, he contracted a rare strain of pneumonia, which resulted in his being hospitalized and affected his health for months. This inspired him into a burst of creativity, including several novels and screenplays. Goldman's novel writing moved in a more commercial direction following the death of his editor
Hiram Haydn Hiram Collins Haydn (November 3, 1907 – December 2, 1973) This started with the children's book ''
Wigger ''Wigger'', or ''wigga'', is a term for a white person of European ethnic origin, who emulates the perceived mannerisms, language, and fashions associated with African-American culture, particularly hip hop. The term is a portmanteau of ''whit ...
'' (1974), followed by the thriller '' Marathon Man'' (1974), which he sold to Delacorte as part of a three-book deal worth $2 million. He sold movie rights to ''Marathon Man'' for $450,000. His second book for Delacorte was the thriller '' Magic'' (1976), which he sold to Joe Levine for $1 million. He did the screenplays for the film versions of ''Marathon Man'' (1976) and '' Magic'' (1978). He also wrote the screenplay for '' The Stepford Wives'' (1975), which he says was an unpleasant experience because director
Bryan Forbes Bryan Forbes CBE (; born John Theobald Clarke; 22 July 1926 – 8 May 2013) was an English film director, screenwriter, film producer, actor and novelist described as a "Renaissance man"Falk Q. . BAFTA. 17 October 2007. Retrieved 9 May 2013 and ...
rewrote most of it; Goldman tried to take his name off it, but they would not let him. He was reunited with director
George Roy Hill George Roy Hill (December 20, 1921 – December 27, 2002) was an American film director. He is most noted for directing such films as ''Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'' (1969) and ''The Sting'' (1973), both starring Paul Newman and Robert Re ...
and star Robert Redford on '' The Great Waldo Pepper'' (1975), which Goldman wrote from an idea of Hill's.


''All the President's Men''

Redford hired Goldman to write the script of ''
All the President's Men ''All the President's Men'' is a 1974 non-fiction book by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, two of the journalists who investigated the June 1972 break-in at the Watergate Office Building and the resultant political scandal for ''The Washingto ...
'' (1976). 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 Robert Upshur Woodward (born March 26, 1943) is an American investigative journalist. He started working for '' The Washington Post'' as a reporter in 1971 and now holds the title of associate editor. While a young reporter for ''The Washingt ...
's notes nor in Woodward and
Carl Bernstein Carl Milton Bernstein ( ; born February 14, 1944) is an American investigative journalist and author. While a young reporter for ''The Washington Post'' in 1972, Bernstein was teamed up with Bob Woodward, and the two did much of the original n ...
's book or articles. The book does have the far less-quotable line from Woodward to Senator
Sam Ervin Samuel James Ervin Jr. (September 27, 1896April 23, 1985) was an American politician. A Democrat, he served as a U.S. Senator from North Carolina from 1954 to 1974. A native of Morganton, he liked to call himself a "country lawyer", and often ...
, 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 ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer'' and ''The Guardian Weekly'', ''The Guardian'' is part of the Gu ...
'' 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 is reported as stating that Goldman did not actually write the 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."


Joseph E. Levine

Goldman had a happier experience when hired by
Joseph E. Levine Joseph Edward Levine (September 9, 1905 – July 31, 1987) was an American film distributor, financier and producer. At the time of his death, it was said he was involved in one or another capacity with 497 films. Levine was responsible for the ...
to write '' A Bridge Too Far'' (1977) based on the book by
Cornelius Ryan Cornelius Ryan (5 June 1920 – 23 November 1974) was an Irish-American journalist and author known mainly for writing popular military history. He was especially known for his histories of World War II events: '' The Longest Day: 6 June 1944 D- ...
. Goldman later wrote a promotional book, ''Story of A Bridge Too Far'' (1977), as a favor to Levine, and signed a three-film contract with the producer worth $1.5 million. He wrote a novel about Hollywood, ''
Tinsel Tinsel is a type of decorative material that mimics the effect of ice, consisting of thin strips of sparkling material attached to a thread. When in long narrow strips not attached to thread, it is called "lametta", and emulates icicles. It was o ...
'' (1979), which sold well. He wrote two more films for Levine, ''The Sea Kings'' and ''Year of the Comet'', but did not write a third. He did a script about
Tom Horn Thomas Horn Jr., (November 21, 1860 – November 20, 1903) was an American scout, cowboy, soldier, range detective, and Pinkerton agent in the 19th-century and early 20th-century American Old West. Believed to have committed 17 killings as a ...
; '' Mr. Horn'' (1979), was filmed for TV. Goldman was the original screenwriter for the film version of
Tom Wolfe Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Jr. (March 2, 1930 – May 14, 2018)Some sources say 1931; ''The New York Times'' and Reuters both initially reported 1931 in their obituaries before changing to 1930. See and was an American author and journalist widely ...
's novel '' The Right Stuff''; director Philip Kaufman wrote his own screenplay without using Goldman's material, because Kaufman wanted to include
Chuck Yeager Brigadier General Charles Elwood Yeager ( , February 13, 1923December 7, 2020) was a United States Air Force officer, flying ace, and record-setting test pilot who in October 1947 became the first pilot in history confirmed to have exceeded the ...
as a character; Goldman did not. He wrote a number of other screenplays around this time, including ''The Ski Bum''; a musical adaptation of '' Grand Hotel'' (1932) that was going to be directed by
Norman Jewison Norman Frederick Jewison (born July 21, 1926) is a retired Canadian film and television director, producer, and founder of the Canadian Film Centre. He has directed numerous feature films and has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best ...
; and ''Rescue'', the story of the rescue of Electronic Data Systems employees during the
Iranian Revolution The Iranian Revolution ( fa, انقلاب ایران, Enqelâb-e Irân, ), also known as the Islamic Revolution ( fa, انقلاب اسلامی, Enqelâb-e Eslâmī), was a series of events that culminated in the overthrow of the Pahlavi dyna ...
. None were made into films.


''Adventures in the Screen Trade'' and the "Leper Period"

After several of his screenplays were not filmed, Goldman found himself in less demand as a screenwriter. He published a memoir about his professional life in Hollywood, '' Adventures in the Screen Trade'' (1983), which summed up the entertainment industry in the opening sentence of the book, "Nobody knows anything." He focused on novels: '' Control'' (1982), '' The Silent Gondoliers'' (1983), '' The Color of Light'' (1984), ''
Heat In thermodynamics, heat is defined as the form of energy crossing the boundary of a thermodynamic system by virtue of a temperature difference across the boundary. A thermodynamic system does not ''contain'' heat. Nevertheless, the term is ...
'' (1985), and ''
Brothers A brother is a man or boy who shares one or more parents with another; a male sibling. The female counterpart is a sister. Although the term typically refers to a familial relationship, it is sometimes used endearingly to refer to non-familia ...
'' (1986). The latter, a sequel to ''Marathon Man'', was Goldman's last published novel.


Return to Hollywood

Goldman attributed his return to Hollywood to signing with talent agent Michael Ovitz at
Creative Artists Agency Creative Artists Agency LLC (CAA) is an American talent and sports agency based in Los Angeles, California. It is regarded as an influential company in the talent agency business and manages numerous clients. In March 2016, CAA had 1,800 emplo ...
. He went to work on '' Memoirs of an Invisible Man'', although he left the project relatively early. Hollywood's interest in Goldman was reawakened; he wrote the scripts for film versions of ''
Heat In thermodynamics, heat is defined as the form of energy crossing the boundary of a thermodynamic system by virtue of a temperature difference across the boundary. A thermodynamic system does not ''contain'' heat. Nevertheless, the term is ...
'' (1986) and '' The Princess Bride'' (1987). The latter was directed by
Rob Reiner Robert Norman Reiner (born March 6, 1947) is an American actor and filmmaker. As an actor, Reiner first came to national prominence with the role of Michael "Meathead" Stivic on the CBS sitcom ''All in the Family'' (1971–1979), a performan ...
for Castle Rock, which hired Goldman to write the screenplay for Rob Reiner's 1990 adaptation of Stephen King's novel '' Misery'', considered "one of ing'sleast adaptable novels". The movie, for which
Kathy Bates Kathleen Doyle Bates (born June 28, 1948) is an American actor and director. Known for her roles in comedic and dramatic films and television programs, she has received various accolades throughout her career spanning over five decades, includ ...
received an
Academy Award The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit for the American and international film industry. The awards are regarded by many as the most prestigious, significant awards in the entertainment ind ...
, performed well with critics and at the box office. Goldman continued to write nonfiction regularly. He published a collection of sports writing, '' Wait Till Next Year'' (1988) and an account of his time as a judge at both the Cannes Film Festival and the Miss America Pageant, ''
Hype and Glory ''Hype and Glory'' is a 1990 memoir from William Goldman which details his experiences as a judge at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival and Miss America Pageant. The book includes an interview with Clint Eastwood and a profile on Robert Redford. Much ...
'' (1990). Goldman began to work steadily as a " script doctor", doing uncredited work on films including ''
Twins Twins are two offspring produced by the same pregnancy.MedicineNet > Definition of TwinLast Editorial Review: 19 June 2000 Twins can be either ''monozygotic'' ('identical'), meaning that they develop from one zygote, which splits and forms two em ...
'' (1988), ''
A Few Good Men ''A Few Good Men'' is a 1992 American legal drama film based on Aaron Sorkin's 1989 play. It was written by Sorkin, directed by Rob Reiner, and produced by Reiner, David Brown and Andrew Scheinman. It stars an ensemble cast including Tom C ...
'' (1992), ''
Indecent Proposal ''Indecent Proposal'' is a 1993 American erotic drama film directed by Adrian Lyne and written by Amy Holden Jones. It is based on the 1988 novel by Jack Engelhard, in which a couple's marriage is disrupted by a stranger's offer of a million d ...
'' (1993), ''
Last Action Hero ''Last Action Hero'' is a 1993 American fantasy action comedy film directed and produced by John McTiernan and co-written by Shane Black and David Arnott. It is a satire of the action genre and associated clichés, containing several parodies ...
'' (1993), ''Malice'' (1994), '' Dolores Claiborne'' (1995), and '' Extreme Measures''. Most of these movies were by Castle Rock. He was credited on several other movies: '' Year of the Comet'' (1992), which was eventually filmed by Castle Rock, but was not a success; the biopic '' Chaplin'' (1992), directed by Richard Attenborough; '' Maverick'' (1994), a popular hit; '' The Chamber'' (1996), from a novel by
John Grisham John Ray Grisham Jr. (; born February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas) is an American novelist, lawyer and former member of the 7th district of the Mississippi House of Representatives, known for his popular legal thrillers. According to the Ame ...
; ''
The Ghost and the Darkness ''The Ghost and the Darkness'' is a 1996 American historical adventure film directed by Stephen Hopkins and starring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas. The screenplay, written by William Goldman, is a fictionalized account of the Tsavo man-eaters, ...
'' (1996), an original script based on a true story; '' Absolute Power'' (1997) for Clint Eastwood; and '' The General's Daughter'' (1999), from the novel by Nelson DeMille.


Later career

Goldman wrote another volume of memoirs, '' Which Lie Did I Tell?'' (2000), and a collection of his essays, '' The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood? and Other Essays'' (2001). His later screenplay credits include '' Hearts in Atlantis'' (2001) and ''
Dreamcatcher In some Native American and First Nations cultures, a dreamcatcher ( oj, asabikeshiinh, the inanimate form of the word for 'spider') is a handmade willow hoop, on which is woven a net or web. It may also be decorated with sacred items such as ...
'' (2003), both from novels by Stephen King. He adapted ''Misery'' into a stage play, which made its debut on Broadway in 2015 in a production starring
Bruce Willis Walter Bruce Willis (born March 19, 1955) is a retired American actor. He achieved fame with a leading role on the comedy-drama series ''Moonlighting'' (1985–1989) and appeared in over a hundred films, gaining recognition as an action hero a ...
and
Laurie Metcalf Laura Elizabeth Metcalf (born June 16, 1955) is an American actress. Often described as a character actor, she's known for her complex and versitile roles across the stage and screen. She has received various accolades throughout her career sp ...
. His script for ''Heat'' was filmed again as '' Wild Card'' (2015), starring Jason Statham.


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''." Three of Goldman's scripts have been voted into the
Writers Guild of America The Writers Guild of America is the joint efforts of two different US labor unions representing TV and film writers: * The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), headquartered in New York City and affiliated with the AFL–CIO * The Writers Gu ...
hall-of-fame's 101 Greatest Screenplays list. In his book evaluating Goldman's work, ''William Goldman: The Reluctant Storyteller'' (2014), Sean Egan said Goldman's achievements were made "without ever lunging for the lowest common denominator. Although his body of work has been consumed by millions, he has never let his populism overwhelm a glittering intelligence and penchant for upending expectation."


Self-appraisal

In 2000, Goldman said of his writing: Goldman also said of his work: "I on'tlike my writing. I wrote a movie called ''Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'' and I wrote a novel called ''The Princess Bride'' and those are the only two things I've ever written, not that I'm proud of, but that I can look at without humiliation."


Awards

He won two
Academy Award The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit for the American and international film industry. The awards are regarded by many as the most prestigious, significant awards in the entertainment ind ...
s: one for
Best Original Screenplay The Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay is the Academy Award for the best screenplay not based upon previously published material. It was created in 1940 as a separate writing award from the Academy Award for Best Story. Beginning with the ...
for '' Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'', and Best Adapted Screenplay for ''
All the President's Men ''All the President's Men'' is a 1974 non-fiction book by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, two of the journalists who investigated the June 1972 break-in at the Watergate Office Building and the resultant political scandal for ''The Washingto ...
''. He also won two Edgar Awards, from the
Mystery Writers of America Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is an organization of mystery and crime writers, based in New York City. The organization was founded in 1945 by Clayton Rawson, Anthony Boucher, Lawrence Treat, and Brett Halliday. It presents the Edgar Awa ...
, for Best Motion Picture Screenplay: for '' Harper'' in 1967, and for '' Magic'' (adapted from his 1976 novel) in 1979. In 1985, he received the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement from the
Writers Guild of America The Writers Guild of America is the joint efforts of two different US labor unions representing TV and film writers: * The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), headquartered in New York City and affiliated with the AFL–CIO * The Writers Gu ...
.


Personal life

He was married to Ilene Jones from 1961 until their divorce in 1991; the couple had two daughters, Jenny and Susanna. Ilene, a native of
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, it is the second-largest U.S. state by ...
, modeled for
Neiman Marcus Neiman Marcus Group, Inc. is an American integrated luxury retailer headquartered in Dallas, Texas, which owns Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Horchow, and Last Call. Since September 2021, NMG has been owned by a group of investment compani ...
; Ilene's brother was actor
Allen Case Allen Case (born Alan Case Lavelle Jones, October 8, 1934 – August 25, 1986) was an American television actor most noted for the lead role of Deputy Clay McCord in NBC-TV's '' The Deputy'' (1959–1961) opposite series regular Henry Fonda, wh ...
. Goldman said that his favorite writers were
Miguel de Cervantes Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (; 29 September 1547 (assumed) – 22 April 1616 NS) was an Early Modern Spanish writer widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world's pre-eminent novelists. He is best kno ...
, Anton Chekhov, Somerset Maugham,
Irwin Shaw Irwin Shaw (February 27, 1913 – May 16, 1984) was an American playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and short-story author whose written works have sold more than 14 million copies. He is best known for two of his novels: '' The Young Lions'' ...
, and
Leo Tolstoy Count Lev Nikolayevich TolstoyTolstoy pronounced his first name as , which corresponds to the romanization ''Lyov''. () (; russian: link=no, Лев Николаевич Толстой,In Tolstoy's day, his name was written as in pre-refor ...
. He was a die-hard fan of the New York Knicks, having held season tickets at Madison Square Garden for over 40 years. He contributed a writing section to Bill Simmons's bestselling book about the history of the NBA, in which he discussed the career of
Dave DeBusschere David Albert DeBusschere (October 16, 1940 – May 14, 2003) was an American professional National Basketball Association (NBA) player and coach and Major League Baseball (MLB) player. He played for the Chicago White Sox of MLB in 1962 and 1963 a ...
.


Death

Goldman died in
Manhattan Manhattan (), known regionally as the City, is the most densely populated and geographically smallest of the five boroughs of New York City. The borough is also coextensive with New York County, one of the original counties of the U.S. state ...
on November 16, 2018, due to complications from colon cancer and
pneumonia Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung primarily affecting the small air sacs known as alveoli. Symptoms typically include some combination of productive or dry cough, chest pain, fever, and difficulty breathing. The severi ...
.


Works


Theatre


Produced

* ''Tenderloin'' (1960), uncredited doctoring work * ''
Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole ''Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole'' is a 1961 play by American brothers and playwrights James Goldman and William Goldman near the beginning of their careers. Both had served in the army in the 1950s. The comedy is about a supply sergeant at an ar ...
'' (1961), with
James Goldman James Goldman (June 30, 1927 – October 28, 1998) was an American playwright and screenwriter. He won an Academy Award for his screenplay '' The Lion in Winter'' (1968). His younger brother was novelist and screenwriter William Goldman. Biog ...
* '' A Family Affair'' (1962), lyrics; book was by
James Goldman James Goldman (June 30, 1927 – October 28, 1998) was an American playwright and screenwriter. He won an Academy Award for his screenplay '' The Lion in Winter'' (1968). His younger brother was novelist and screenwriter William Goldman. Biog ...
, music by John Kander * '' Misery'' (2012), adapted from the novel '' Misery''


Unproduced

* ''Madonna and Child'' – with James Goldman * ''Now I Am Six'' * ''Something Blue'' – musical * musical of ''Boys and Girls Together'' (aka ''Magic Town'') * ''Nagurski'' – musical * ''The Man Who Owned Chicago'' – musical with James Goldman and John Kander * musical of ''The Princess Bride'' – with
Adam Guettel Adam Guettel (; born December 16, 1964) is an American composer- lyricist of musical theater and opera. The grandson of musical theatre composer Richard Rodgers, he is best known for his musical '' The Light in the Piazza'', for which he won the ...
(abandoned after royalty disputes)


Screenplays


Produced

Consultant * ''
A Few Good Men ''A Few Good Men'' is a 1992 American legal drama film based on Aaron Sorkin's 1989 play. It was written by Sorkin, directed by Rob Reiner, and produced by Reiner, David Brown and Andrew Scheinman. It stars an ensemble cast including Tom C ...
'' (1992) * '' Malice'' (1993) * '' Dolores Claiborne'' (1995) * '' Extreme Measures'' (1996) * ''
Good Will Hunting ''Good Will Hunting'' is a 1997 American psychological drama film directed by Gus Van Sant, and written by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. It stars Robin Williams, Damon, Affleck, Stellan Skarsgård and Minnie Driver. The film received positive r ...
'' (1997) Uncredited * ''
Twins Twins are two offspring produced by the same pregnancy.MedicineNet > Definition of TwinLast Editorial Review: 19 June 2000 Twins can be either ''monozygotic'' ('identical'), meaning that they develop from one zygote, which splits and forms two em ...
'' (1988) * ''
Indecent Proposal ''Indecent Proposal'' is a 1993 American erotic drama film directed by Adrian Lyne and written by Amy Holden Jones. It is based on the 1988 novel by Jack Engelhard, in which a couple's marriage is disrupted by a stranger's offer of a million d ...
'' (1993) * ''
Last Action Hero ''Last Action Hero'' is a 1993 American fantasy action comedy film directed and produced by John McTiernan and co-written by Shane Black and David Arnott. It is a satire of the action genre and associated clichés, containing several parodies ...
'' (1993) * '' Fierce Creatures'' (1997)


Unproduced

* ''Flowers for Algernon: Good Old Charley Gordon'' (1964) – an adaptation of the story ''
Flowers for Algernon ''Flowers for Algernon'' is a short story by American author Daniel Keyes, later expanded by him into a novel and subsequently adapted for film and other media. The short story, written in 1958 and first published in the April 1959 issue of '' ...
'' done for actor
Cliff Robertson Clifford Parker Robertson III (September 9, 1923 – September 10, 2011) was an American actor whose career in film and television spanned over six decades. Robertson portrayed a young John F. Kennedy in the 1963 film '' PT 109'', and won the 19 ...
– Robertson was unhappy with the version and hired
Stirling Silliphant Stirling Dale Silliphant (January 16, 1918 – April 26, 1996) was an American screenwriter and producer. He is best remembered for his screenplay for '' In the Heat of the Night'', for which he won an Academy Award in 1967, and for creating ...
to write what became ''
Charly ''Charly'' (marketed and stylized as ''CHAЯLY'') is a 1968 American drama film directed and produced by Ralph Nelson and written by Stirling Silliphant. It is based on ''Flowers for Algernon'', a science-fiction short story (1958) and subseque ...
'' (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 Steven Linakis about American deserters in Europe at the end of World War Two. Lawrence Turman was producer and
Martin Ritt Martin Ritt (March 2, 1914 – December 8, 1990) was an American director and actor who worked in both film and theater, noted for his socially conscious films. Some of the films he directed include '' The Long, Hot Summer'' (1958), '' The Black ...
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 Norman Frederick Jewison (born July 21, 1926) is a retired Canadian film and television director, producer, and founder of the Canadian Film Centre. He has directed numerous feature films and has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best ...
to direct * ''The Sea Kings'' (late 1970s) – a pirate movie about the relationship between
Stede Bonnet Stede Bonnet (1688 – 10 December 1718) was an early 18th-century English/Barbadian pirate, also known as the Gentleman Pirate for the reason that he was a moderately wealthy landowner before turning to a life of crime. Bonnet was born in ...
and
Blackbeard Edward Teach (alternatively spelled Edward Thatch, – 22 November 1718), better known as Blackbeard, was an English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of Britain's North American colonies. Little is known abou ...
, the first of a three-picture deal with
Joseph E. Levine Joseph Edward Levine (September 9, 1905 – July 31, 1987) was an American film distributor, financier and producer. At the time of his death, it was said he was involved in one or another capacity with 497 films. Levine was responsible for the ...
– Goldman says he wrote the part of Blackbeard for Sean Connery and at one stage
Richard Lester Richard Lester Liebman (born January 19, 1932) is an American retired film director based in the United Kingdom. He is best known for directing the Beatles' films '' A Hard Day's Night'' (1964) and '' Help!'' (1965), and the superhero films ' ...
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 Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Jr. (March 2, 1930 – May 14, 2018)Some sources say 1931; ''The New York Times'' and Reuters both initially reported 1931 in their obituaries before changing to 1930. See and was an American author and journalist widely ...
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 The Iranian Revolution ( fa, انقلاب ایران, Enqelâb-e Irân, ), also known as the Islamic Revolution ( fa, انقلاب اسلامی, Enqelâb-e Eslâmī), was a series of events that culminated in the overthrow of the Pahlavi dyna ...
– Goldman says this foundered when Clint Eastwood, the only suitable star to play Bull Simons, elected to make ''
Firefox Mozilla Firefox, or simply Firefox, is a free and open-source web browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation. It uses the Gecko rendering engine to display web pages, which implements current ...
'' * ''Flora Quick, Dead or Alive'' * ''The National Pastime'' * ''Singing Out Loud'' – unproduced musical worked on with
Rob Reiner Robert Norman Reiner (born March 6, 1947) is an American actor and filmmaker. As an actor, Reiner first came to national prominence with the role of Michael "Meathead" Stivic on the CBS sitcom ''All in the Family'' (1971–1979), a performan ...
and Stephen Sondheim * '' Low Fives'' (1992) – comedy about an African who plays for a basketball team in a small college, commissioned by
Danny DeVito Daniel Michael DeVito Jr. (born November 17, 1944) is an American actor, comedian, and filmmaker. He gained prominence for his portrayal of the taxi dispatcher Louie De Palma in the television series ''Taxi'' (1978–1983), which won him a Gold ...
and intended to star John Cleese and DeVito * ''Shazam!'' (c 2003) – adaptation of Captain Marvel comic book * '' The Shooter'' – an adaptation of the Steven Hunter novel '' Point of Impact'' that was to have been directed by
Lee Tamahori Warren Lee Tamahori (; born 17 June 1950) is a New Zealand filmmaker best known for directing the 1994 film '' Once Were Warriors'', the 2001 film '' Along Came a Spider'', and 2002's James Bond film '' Die Another Day''. Upbringing and early care ...
* '' Mission: Impossible 2'' – script that was not used


Television

* '' Mr. Horn'' (1979) * '' City in Fear'' (1980) – contributed to idea


Novels

''The Thing of It Is'' series: # '' The Thing of It Is...'' (1967) # ''
Father's Day Father's Day is a holiday of honoring fatherhood and paternal bonds, as well as the influence of fathers in society. In Catholic countries of Europe, it has been celebrated on 19 March as Saint Joseph's Day since the Middle Ages. In the Unite ...
'' (1971) ''Babe Levy'' series: # '' Marathon Man'' (1974) # ''
Brothers A brother is a man or boy who shares one or more parents with another; a male sibling. The female counterpart is a sister. Although the term typically refers to a familial relationship, it is sometimes used endearingly to refer to non-familia ...
'' (1986) Stand-alones: * '' The Temple of Gold'' (1957) * '' Your Turn to Curtsy, My Turn to Bow'' (1958) * '' Soldier in the Rain'' (1960) * ''
Boys and Girls Together ''Boys and Girls Together'' is a 1964 novel by William Goldman. The title is taken from lyrics in the song, "The Sidewalks of New York". Background Goldman says his creative impulse behind the book was his desire to write a long novel: At the tim ...
'' (1964) * '' No Way to Treat a Lady'' (1964) * '' The Princess Bride'' (1973) * '' Magic'' (1976) * ''
Tinsel Tinsel is a type of decorative material that mimics the effect of ice, consisting of thin strips of sparkling material attached to a thread. When in long narrow strips not attached to thread, it is called "lametta", and emulates icicles. It was o ...
'' (1979) * '' Control'' (1982) * '' The Silent Gondoliers'' (1983) * '' The Color of Light'' (1984) * ''
Heat In thermodynamics, heat is defined as the form of energy crossing the boundary of a thermodynamic system by virtue of a temperature difference across the boundary. A thermodynamic system does not ''contain'' heat. Nevertheless, the term is ...
'', published in the United Kingdom as ''Edged Weapons'' (1985)


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

* "The Ice Cream Eat", ''Transatlantic Review'' Winter 1959 * "Da Vinci", ''New World Writing'' no. 17, 1960 * "Till the Right Girls Come Along", ''Transatlantic Review'', Winter 1961 * "Something Blue", '' Rogue'', April 1963, pp. 13–83 * "The Simple Pleasures of the Rich", ''Transatlantic Review'' Autumn-Winter 1974


Non-fiction

* , article * '' The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway'' (1969), guide * '' The Story of 'A Bridge Too Far''' (1977), guide * ''Adventures in the Screen Trade'' series: (guides) *# '' Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting'' (1983) *# '' Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade'' (2000) * '' Wait Till Next Year'' (1988), with Mike Lupica, memoir * ''
Hype and Glory ''Hype and Glory'' is a 1990 memoir from William Goldman which details his experiences as a judge at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival and Miss America Pageant. The book includes an interview with Clint Eastwood and a profile on Robert Redford. Much ...
'' (1990), memoir * ''Four Screenplays'' (1995), screenplays of ''Marathon Man'', ''Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'', ''The Princess Bride'', and ''Misery'', with an essay on each * ''Five Screenplays'' (1997), screenplays of ''All the President's Men'', ''Magic'', ''Harper'', ''Maverick'', and ''The Great Waldo Pepper'', with an essay on each * ''The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood? and Other Essays'' (2001), essays


Adaptations

* '' Soldier in the Rain'' (1963), film directed by
Ralph Nelson Ralph Nelson (August 12, 1916 – December 21, 1987) was an American film and television director, producer, writer, and actor. He was best known for directing '' Lilies of the Field'' (1963), '' Father Goose'' (1964), and '' Charly'' (1968 ...
, based on novel ''Soldier in the Rain'' * '' No Way to Treat a Lady'' (1968), film directed by
Jack Smight John Ronald Smight (March 9, 1925 – September 1, 2003) was an American theatre and film director. His film credits include ''Harper'' (1966), '' No Way to Treat a Lady'' (1968), '' Airport 1975'' (1974), '' Midway'' (1976), and '' Fast Break ...
, based on novel '' No Way to Treat a Lady'' * '' Marathon Man'' (1976), film directed by
John Schlesinger John Richard Schlesinger (; 16 February 1926 – 25 July 2003) was an English film and stage director. He won the Academy Award for Best Director for ''Midnight Cowboy'', and was nominated for the same award for two other films ('' Darling'' an ...
, based on novel '' Marathon Man'' * '' Magic'' (1978), film directed by Richard Attenborough, based on novel '' Magic'' * ''
Heat In thermodynamics, heat is defined as the form of energy crossing the boundary of a thermodynamic system by virtue of a temperature difference across the boundary. A thermodynamic system does not ''contain'' heat. Nevertheless, the term is ...
'' (1986), film directed by Dick Richards and
Jerry Jameson Jerry Jameson (born November 26, 1934) is an American television and film director, editor and producer. Biography Highly prolific, he began career in 1964 as an editor on the episode " The Song Festers" of ''The Andy Griffith Show'', soon m ...
, based on novel ''
Heat In thermodynamics, heat is defined as the form of energy crossing the boundary of a thermodynamic system by virtue of a temperature difference across the boundary. A thermodynamic system does not ''contain'' heat. Nevertheless, the term is ...
'' * '' The Princess Bride'' (1987), film directed by
Rob Reiner Robert Norman Reiner (born March 6, 1947) is an American actor and filmmaker. As an actor, Reiner first came to national prominence with the role of Michael "Meathead" Stivic on the CBS sitcom ''All in the Family'' (1971–1979), a performan ...
, based on novel '' The Princess Bride'' * ''The Princess Bride'' (2012), short film directed by Emma Bradfield and Tyler Harrah, based on novel ''The Princess Bride'' * '' Wild Card'' (2015), film directed by
Simon West Simon Alexander West (born 1961) is an English film director and producer. He has primarily worked in the action genre, most notably as the director of the films ''Con Air'', '' Lara Croft: Tomb Raider'', '' The Mechanic'', and '' The Expenda ...
, based on novel ''Heat'' * ''5 Minutes'' (2018), short film directed by Javan Garza, based on novel ''Magic'' * '' Home Movie: The Princess Bride'' (2020), miniseries directed by Jason Reitman, based on novel ''The Princess Bride''


References


Books cited

* * * * *


External links

* *
Finding aid to William Goldman papers at Columbia University. Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
* * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Goldman, William 1931 births 2018 deaths 20th-century American dramatists and playwrights 20th-century American novelists 21st-century American dramatists and playwrights American children's writers American male dramatists and playwrights American male novelists American male screenwriters Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award winners Best Original Screenplay Academy Award winners Best Screenplay BAFTA Award winners Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences alumni Columbia University alumni Deaths from cancer in New York (state) Deaths from colorectal cancer Deaths from pneumonia in New York City Edgar Award winners Hugo Award-winning writers Jewish American dramatists and playwrights Jewish American novelists Jewish American screenwriters Military personnel from Chicago Novelists from Illinois Novelists from New York (state) Oberlin College alumni People from Highland Park, Illinois Screenwriters from Illinois Screenwriters from New York (state) Writers Guild of America Award winners Writers from Chicago Writers from New York City 20th-century American male writers 21st-century American male writers 21st-century American Jews