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Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
The collected papers of literary giant Budd Schulberg, Dartmouth Class of 1936, have joined Dartmouth's Rauner Special Collections Library in the Dartmouth College Library, which purchased the collection from the writer for an undisclosed sum. (The acquisition was funded by the Office of the Provost.) Schulberg is best known as the author of the novel What Makes Sammy Run? and the Academy Award-winning screenplay for On the Waterfront, but the 92-year-old writer is also remembered for his contentious role in the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings and for his decades of social justice work.
The collected papers, which total 234 linear feet, exhaustively document the writings and work of Schulberg, as well as provide a window into his personal life and the many high-profile figures with whom he associated and collaborated. The collection features correspondence with his long-time friend Elia Kazan (director of On the Waterfront), Robert F. Kennedy, F. Scott Fitzgerald and a host of Hollywood celebrities and powerbrokers.
The papers are still undergoing review by the Rauner Library staff, but already gems including a hand-noted draft of the script for On the Waterfront and early drafts of other projects have come to light. Until the collection is fully processed, access to it will be limited. However, those interested in seeing the collection can make an appointment to do so with the Rauner Library staff.
The processing challenges presented by the large collection are eminently worthwhile, said Dean of the Libraries and Librarian of the College Jeffrey Horrell. "We are thrilled the Schulberg papers have become part of the Rauner collection at Dartmouth. They provide extraordinary insight into a wide range of events which have shaped America's cultural and political landscape. The research potential of the Schulberg papers for Dartmouth students and faculty and the greater scholarly community will be extremely valuable for generations to come."
Following negotiations over the sale, Schulberg and the College finalized the agreement in May 2006. The decision was especially pleasing to Schulberg who said, "To have my papers at Dartmouth is truly a dream come true. When I was a freshman heeling for The Dartmouth [the College newspaper] I could not have foreseen in my rosiest projection that I would be honored this way. I am truly delighted."
The acquisition is an important addition to the collection, said Jay Satterfield, the Special Collections Librarian, because, "Budd Schulberg has been enmeshed in the social and political fabric of American culture for nearly 80 years. The rich trove of papers that have come to Dartmouth elucidates the twentieth-century interrelationship of art, politics, and even sports in America. This tremendous collection presents Dartmouth students, faculty and visiting researchers with a myriad of research opportunities, including an important glimpse into the institution's own history through the abandoned collaboration with F. Scott Fitzgerald."
Schulberg, born in 1914, is the son of B.P. Schulberg, who headed Paramount Pictures, and Adeline Jafee-Schulberg, sister to agent/film producer Sam Jaffe. Schulberg attended Deerfield Academy before coming to Dartmouth, where he wrote for both The Dartmouth and for the college humor magazine, The Jack-O-Lantern, until his graduation in 1936.
Thanks in part to his life-long connections to Hollywood insiders, Schulberg returned to Dartmouth in 1939 with F. Scott Fitzgerald to collaborate on a screenplay for a film set at Dartmouth's Winter Carnival, a project from which Fitzgerald was ultimately fired for heavy drinking. Schulberg later wrote about his experience with Fitzgerald in his roman á clef, The Disenchanted.
In 1941, Schulberg risked his position as a Hollywood screenwriter when he published his first novel, What Makes Sammy Run? The novel, which introduced the iconic character of Sammy Glick, chronicled the cut-throat, dog-eat-dog world of the Hollywood screenwriter. It was criticized by both the left and the right for its depiction of unions and it cost Schulberg a job as a screenwriter. However, the book was an enormous success and well-received by critics, including Fitzgerald.
Schulberg, like a number of his fellow writers, had once belonged to the Communist Party. He split with the Party due to differences over Stalin's Soviet regime and because he believed that the Party wished to influence his work. In 1951, writer Richard Collins, a former Communist Party member who had been blacklisted, agreed to give friendly testimony before HUAC in which he named Schulberg as another former member. Schulberg, faced with the prospect of blacklisting, compounded by his own disillusionment with the Party, agreed to be a "friendly witness" and named Communist sympathizers. His willingness, along with Kazan, to "name names" earned him the enmity of many of his colleagues and remains a polarizing issue.
In 1954, Schulberg and Kazan collaborated on the film On the Waterfront. The film, which stars Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint, tells the story of an ex-prize fighter and dock worker who goes against the waterfront code and "names names" in the investigation of the mobsters controlling the dock. Winner of eight Academy Awards, including one for Best Screenplay, the film was considered by many to be Schulberg and Kazan's response to their critics.
Throughout his life and career, Schulberg has demonstrated his love of boxing. He served as Sports Illustrated's first boxing editor and is the author of Sparring with Hemingway: And Other Legends of the Fight Game (1995) and Loser and Still Champion (1971), a biography of Muhammad Ali. In 2003, he was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame.
As Schulberg's papers illustrate, his 1951 experience with HUAC did nothing to dampen the writer's enthusiasm for social justice. Following six days of devastating riots in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1965, Schulberg began visiting Watts, eventually offering a free writing workshop there. The program grew, spawning branch programs and drawing attention to the unsolved issues of civil rights and social justice. In 1966, Schulberg and other original members of the workshop were invited to testify about these issues before a Senate subcommittee.
Provost Barry Scherr said, "Budd Schulberg is both an alumnus and an important figure in the world of the arts, and so we had a special interest in obtaining his papers. And then there is the intrinsic value of the collection itself. The collection contains a lot of important correspondence, as well as other significant material related to the films on which he worked and to his literary writings. This archive is thus a major addition to our holdings."
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