Linda Woolverton is an American screenwriter, playwright, and
novelist, whose most prominent works include the screenplays and books
of several acclaimed Disney films and stage musicals. She is the first
woman to have written an animated feature for Disney, Beauty and the
Beast (1991), which was also the first animated film ever to be
nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. She also helped
write the screenplay for the film The Lion King, and adapted her own
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast screenplay into the book of the Broadway
adaptation of the film, for which she received a Tony Award
Her most recent works include the screenplay of Alice in Wonderland, a
huge box office success, making her the first and only female
screenwriter with a sole writing credit on a billion-dollar film,
and the screenplay of Maleficent.
1 Early life and education
2.1 First works
2.2 Works for Disney
2.3 Other works
2.4 Upcoming works
4 Personal life
5.2 Theatrical productions
6 Awards and nominations
8 External links
Early life and education
Woolverton was born in 1952 in Long Beach, California. As a child, she
began acting in the local children's theater as an escape from what
she has described as a "traumatic childhood." She graduated from
high school in 1969 with honors in the school's theater program. She
California State University, Long Beach, graduating with
a BFA in Theater Arts in 1973. After the college graduation, she
California State University, Fullerton, to receive a
master's degree in Theater for Children. She completed her master's
degree in 1976.
Upon the completion of her master's degree, she formed her own
children's theater company. She wrote, directed and performed all over
California in churches, malls, schools, and local theaters. She also
began to work as a coach to children acting in commercials in 1979.
In 1980, she began working as a secretary for CBS, where she
eventually became a programming executive concentrating on both
children's and late-night programming. During her lunch breaks,
Woolverton wrote her first novel, the young adult Star Wind.
Eventually quitting the job in 1984, she began to work as a substitute
teacher when she wrote her second novel, the also young-adult Running
Before the Wind. Released in 1986 and 1987, respectively, both were
published by Houghton Mifflin.
During this time, she also began penning scripts for children's
television shows. From 1986 to 1989, she wrote episodes for animated
series as Star Wars: Ewoks, Dennis the Menace, The Real Ghostbusters,
My Little Pony and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. Eventually, she
expressed her wish to work for Disney's theatrical department, but was
discouraged by her agent, who said to her that she "wasn't ready." Not
agreeing with it, she went over to Disney offices in Burbank,
California, and dropped off a copy of
Running Before the Wind for a
secretary, asking her to "give it to somebody to read." Two days
later, she received a call from by the then Disney
Katzenberg calling her for an interview.
Works for Disney
Woolverton was hired to write the script for Disney Animation's Beauty
and the Beast, becoming the first woman to write an animated feature
for the studio. From early 1985 to 1988, two different teams of
writers took a turn at turning Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont's
tale into a feature film, but Woolverton succeeded in adapting the
story by incorporating her new ideas into the plot, like making the
protagonist a bookaholic. Upon its release in 1991, Beauty and the
Beast received universal critical acclaim, becoming the first animated
film ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and
winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or
The success of
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast led Woolverton to work in several
projects with Disney. She co-wrote the screenplay of the live-action
film Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, released in 1993, and
worked again with Disney Animation helping in the pre-production story
development of Aladdin, released in 1992, and co-writing the
screenplay of The Lion King, released in 1994. Both Aladdin and The
Lion King were huge box office successes and received critical
acclaim. During this time she also adapted her own Beauty and the
Beast screenplay into a Broadway musical, which opened to critical
acclaim in 1994, leading her to be nominated for a
Tony Award for Best
Book in a Musical and winning an Olivier Award for Best New
She provided additional story material for Mulan, released in 1998,
and co-wrote the book of the Disney musical Aida, which opened on
Broadway on 2000 for critical acclaim. In 2007, she completed a
screenplay where an older Alice, from Lewis Carroll's Alice's
Adventures in Wonderland, goes back to Wonderland, from an idea she
had in her head for many years. She presented this screenplay to
producers Suzanne Todd, Jennifer Todd, and Joe Roth, who took it to
Disney. The studio immediately accepted the project, attaching Tim
Burton to direct. Alice in Wonderland, released in 2010, was a huge
box office success, earning more than $1 billion, and making
Woolverton the first and only female screenwriter with a sole writing
credit on a billion-dollar film.
After Alice in Wonderland, she was invited to write the screenplay of
Maleficent, a retelling of the animated film Sleeping Beauty from the
point of view of the villain Maleficent. Similar to Beauty and the
Beast, the film was in development hell until she was attached to
write it. According to her, her version of the story was a
"reinvention, not just the retelling of the same story."
Maleficent was released in 2014.
Woolverton wrote the screenplay for Alice Through the Looking Glass,
the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, released in May 2016.
She wrote the book of the non-Disney Broadway musical Lestat, an
The Vampire Chronicles
The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, which pre-debuted
in 2006 in San Francisco becoming the highest-earning pre-Broadway
play in San Francisco history. The musical opened on Broadway on 2007.
She also co-wrote the narration of the documentary film Arctic Tale,
released in 2007.
In June 2015, it was announced that she is developing a sequel to
In 2014, she announced that she was pitching a pilot for a television
series. It was later announced that Lifetime has picked
the adaptation of
The Clan of the Cave Bear books with Woolverton as
executive-producer of the series and writer of the pilot episode.
"Strong female characters"
Woolverton's works are known for its strong female characters. She
is recognized for have paved the way inside Disney to the creation of
strong female protagonists, mainly due to her writing of Belle, the
protagonist of Beauty and the Beast. Belle is an intelligent and
strong young woman, a Disney heroine who does "something other than
wait for her prince to come." Empire hailed Belle as "a feminist
heroine who [is] more rounded than previous Disney characters."
Woolverton herself said that Belle "moved us forward a few inches. She
was a reader. She didn't rely on her beauty to get herself through the
world. She wasn't a victim waiting for her prince to come. She was a
In Alice in Wonderland, she gave the protagonist Alice Kingsleigh an
adventurous, inquisitive, nonconforming personality, which leads the
character to question the values of the Victorian society, and
ultimately dismantle an engagement to become a world explorer. For
this, Elle said: "In her version of Wonderland, she [Linda Woolverton]
gave audiences a female character that was not dependent on a man for
happiness or commercial success." Describing her work in the film,
Woolverton said: "My whole point in Alice was that you have to forge
your own path. You can't go down anybody else's [road]. It's your
dream; it's your life. You don't have to be told by other people what
to make of yourself. You decide."
Reflecting on her female characters, Woolverton said: "I came up as a
feminist, in my day. And when I was first approached to do Beauty and
the Beast, I knew that you couldn’t do a throwback Disney
victim/heroine. We weren’t going to buy it as women after a whole
awakening in the 70s. No one is going to accept that. So that started
me on a path at relooking at these Disney princesses in a sort of
different way. I feel that you have to have an empowering message or
you’re not going to be relevant. If you don’t stay relevant to how
people are and how women are approaching life now, it’s not going to
Woolverton is divorced from producer Lee Flicker, and they have a
daughter together, Keaton, born in 1991. She lives in Hancock
Park, Los Angeles, and has two dogs.
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast (1991; screenplay)
Aladdin (1992; pre-production story development)
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993; screenplay)
The Lion King
The Lion King (1994; screenplay)
Mulan (1998; additional story material)
Arctic Tale (2007; narration screenplay)
Alice in Wonderland (2010; screenplay)
Maleficent (2014; screenplay)
Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016; screenplay)
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast (1994; book)
The Lion King
The Lion King (1997; production assistance)
Aida (2000; book)
Lestat (2003; book)
Star Wind (1986)
Running Before the Wind (1987)
Wildfire (1986, writer; 2 episodes)
Star Wars: Ewoks (1986, writer; 2 episodes)
My Little Pony 'n Friends (1986, writer; 2 episodes presented as two
parts of one)
Dennis the Menace (1986, writer; 65 episodes with three individuals
The Real Ghostbusters
The Real Ghostbusters (1987, writer; 1 episode)
Teen Wolf (1986-1987, writer; 8 episodes)
Garbage Pail Kids (1987, writer; 2 episodes)
CBS Storybreak (1988, writer; 1 episode)
The Adventures of Raggedy Ann and Andy (1988)
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers (1989, writer; 1 episode)
The Clan of the Cave Bear (2015; writer and executive-producer; TV
Awards and nominations
Nomination for Best Book of a Musical for Beauty and the Beast
Laurence Olivier Award
WINNER for Best New Musical for
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast (1998)
Newport Beach Film Festival
WINNER for Outstanding Contribution to Screenwriting (2016)
^ a b c d Dutka, Elaine (January 19, 1992). "MOVIES : Ms. Beauty
and the Beast : Writer of Disney Hit Explains Her 'Woman of the
'90s'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 30, 2014.
^ a b c "Beauty and the Beast". Tony Awards. tonyawards.com. Retrieved
May 25, 2014.
^ a b c Terrill, Ashley. "LADIES, LEADING: From screenwriters to
cinematographers, 15 top-tier trailblazers making behind-the-scenes
movie magic - Linda Woolverton". Elle. elle.com. Retrieved May 25,
^ a b Walter, Brett. "
Linda Woolverton - Biography - IMDb". IMDb.
imdb.com. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
^ a b c d e Woolard, John (September 8, 1996). "Life is a fairy tale
for Disney screenwriter Linda Woolverton". Star-Banner. Retrieved May
Linda Woolverton - IMDb". IMDb. imdb.com. Retrieved May 25,
^ Senger, Amy. "2014 Newport Beach Film Festival: A
'Maleficent' Screenwriter Linda Woolverton". Pacific Punch.
pacific-punch.com. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
^ a b "OLIVIER AWARDS – Best Musicals Winners". West End Theatre.
westendtheatre.com. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
^ "'Alice in Wonderland' screenwriter is ready for haters: 'It's
audacious, what we've done'". Hero Complex. herocomplex.latimes.com.
February 8, 2010. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
^ Kang, Inkoo. "Angelina Jolie and
New Featurette". Women and Hollywood.
blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
^ Shaw, Lucas. "Will the 'Maleficent' and 'Lion King' Writer Finally
Get to Direct Her Own Epic?". TheWrap. thewrap.com. Retrieved June 1,
^ Wloszczyna, Susan. "
Linda Woolverton on Adapting
Fairy Tales for a New Generation". Women and Hollywood.
blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
^ a b Gachman, Dina. "Spotlight:
Linda Woolverton on
Working with Angelina Jolie and Turning a Villain into a Hero". Studio
System News. studiosystemnews.com. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
^ Friedlander, Whitney (July 9, 2014). "Lifetime Adapting 'Clan of the
Cave Bear' With Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Allison Shearmur". Variety.
variety.com. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
^ Rothman, Lily (May 30, 2014). "The Same Woman Wrote
Beauty and the Beast—Here's How They're Linked". TIME. time.com.
Retrieved May 31, 2014.
^ Cochrane, Emma. "Beauty And The Beast". Empire. Bauer Consumer
Media. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved March
^ a b Silverstein, Melissa. "
Makers Presents 'Women in Hollywood';
Linda Woolverton on What's Changed and What
Hasn't". Indiewire. indiewire.com. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
^ "The Impact of Legendary Linda Woolverton, Writer of Maleficent".
Wide Lantern. widelantern.com. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
^ Fallon, Kevin. "The 'Maleficent' Screenwriter also Wrote 'The Lion
King' and 'Beauty and the Beast'". The Daily Beast. thedailybeast.com.
Retrieved June 1, 2014.
Newport Beach Film Festival will Honor Outstanding Contribution
to Global Cinema in a
Special Celebration at the Balboa Bay Resort
Saturday, April 23, 2016". The Newport Beach Film Festival. Archived
from the original on 20 April 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
Linda Woolverton on IMDb
Linda Woolverton Video produced by Makers: Women Who Make America
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