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This article is about the screenwriter/novelist. For the mathematician, see William Goldman (professor).
William Goldman

William Goldman at the 2008 Screenwriting Expo
Born August 12, 1931 (1931-08-12) (age 78)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Pen name S. Morgenstern
Occupation Screenwriter, novelist, playwright, non-fiction author.
Genres Fiction, Literature, Thriller, Drama
Spouse(s) Ilene Jones (1961–1991)

William Goldman (born August 12, 1931) is an American novelist, playwright, and two-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter. He lives in New York City.

Goldman has won two Academy Awards: an Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and an Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay for All the President's Men. He has also won two Edgar Awards, from the Mystery Writers of America, for Best Motion Picture Screenplay: for Harper in 1967, and for Magic (adapted from his own 1976 novel) in 1979.

Contents

Biography

Goldman grew up in a Jewish family in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois. His brother was James Goldman, a playwright and screenwriter who died in 1998. William Goldman obtained a BA degree at Oberlin College in 1952 and a MA degree at Columbia University in 1956.

He was married to Ilene Jones until their divorce in 1991. The couple had two daughters.

Writing career

According to his memoir, Adventures in the Screen Trade, Goldman began writing when he took a creative writing course in college. He did not originally intend to become a screenwriter. His main interests were poetry, short stories, and novels. William Goldman published five novels and had three plays produced on Broadway before he began to write screenplays. He wrote mostly serious literary works until the death of his first agent, when he started writing thrillers, the first of which was Marathon Man.[citation needed]

Goldman researched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for eight years and used Harry Longbaugh (a variant spelling of the Sundance Kid's real name) as his pseudonym for No Way to Treat a Lady. After deciding he did not want to write a cowboy novel, he turned the story into his first original screenplay and sold it for a record $400,000.[1] He went on to use several of his novels as the foundation for his screenplays, such as the The Princess Bride.

Among the many other popular scripts written by Goldman are The Stepford Wives (1975), Marathon Man (based on his novel) (1976); A Bridge Too Far (1977); Misery (1990); Chaplin (1992); Maverick (1994) and Absolute Power (1997). 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’s notes nor in Woodward and Carl Bernstein's book or articles.[2]

In the 1980s he wrote a series of memoirs looking at his professional life on Broadway and in Hollywood. In one of these he famously sized up the entertainment industry by concluding: "Nobody knows anything."[3] His favorite writers are Irwin Shaw, Ingmar Bergman, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ross Macdonald, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Maugham, and Cervantes.[4]

Autobiographical fiction

Simon Morgenstern is both a pseudonym and a narrative device invented by Goldman to add another layer to his novel The Princess Bride. He presents his novel as being an abridged version of a work by the fictional Morgenstern, an author from the equally fictional country of Florin. The name is almost certainly a reference to Johann Carl Simon Morgenstern who coined the term Bildungsroman describing the genre of story.

The details of Goldman's life given in the introduction and commentary for The Princess Bride are also largely fictional. For instance, he says that his wife is a psychiatrist and that he was inspired to abridge Morgenstern's The Princess Bride for his only child, a son. (The Princess Bride actually originated as a bedtime story for Goldman's two daughters.) He not only treats Morgenstern and the countries of Florin and Guilder as real, but even claims that his own father was Florinese and had immigrated to America.

At one point in The Princess Bride, Goldman's commentary indicates that he had wanted to add a passage elaborating a scene skipped over by Morgenstern. He explains that his editors would not allow him to take such liberties with the "original" text, and encourages readers to write to his publisher to request a copy of this scene. Both the original publisher and its successor have responded to such requests with letters describing their supposed legal problems with the Morgenstern estate.

In the 15th Anniversary Edition of The Princess Bride, Goldman claimed that he wanted to adapt the sequel written by Morgenstern, Buttercup's Baby, but he was unable to do so because Morgenstern's estate wanted Stephen King to do the abridgment instead. He also continued the fictional details of his own life, claiming that his psychiatrist wife had divorced him, and his son had grown to have a son of his own.

Goldman also wrote The Silent Gondoliers under the Morgenstern name.

Credits

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Broadway

Screenplays (Produced)

Screenplays (Unproduced)

  • SHAZAM Uncredited: Goodwill Hunting
  • Low Fives
  • The Sea Kings
  • The Thing Of It Is

Television

Novels

Non-fiction and memoirs

  • The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway - 1969
  • The Story of 'A Bridge Too Far' - 1977
  • Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting - 1983
  • Wait Till Next Year (with Mike Lupica) -1988
  • Hype and Glory - 1990
  • Four Screenplays - 1995 (Marathon Man, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Princess Bride, and Misery, with an essay on each)
  • Five Screenplays - 1997 (All the President's Men, Magic, Harper, Maverick, and The Great Waldo Pepper, with an essay on each)
  • Which Lie Did I Tell? (More Adventures in the Screen Trade) - 2000
  • The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood? and Other Essays - 2001

Children's books

  • Wigger (1974)

References

  1. ^ "Moving Pictures Magazine" Dec 2006/Jan 2007 - Interview by Christopher Piehler
  2. ^ Rich, Frank. 2005. [1]| ‘Don’t follow the money’], The New York Times, 12 June
  3. ^ Goldman, William (1983): Adventures in the Screen Trade, New York: Warner Books, p.39
  4. ^ http://www.cnn.com/COMMUNITY/transcripts/william_goldman_chat.html

External links


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