William Goldman Poster


Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trivia (21)  | Personal Quotes (20)  | Salary (3)

Overview (3)

Born in Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA  (complications from colon cancer and pneumonia)
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Screenwriter, novelist, playwright, non-fiction author. Born in Highland Park, Illinois, USA, began his career as a novelist in 1957. Started writing screenplays in 1965 with "Masquerade". A two-time Academy Award Winner, he is one of the most successful screenwriters and script doctors in Hollywood.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: David Montgomery <djmont@aol.com>

Family (3)

Spouse Ilene Jones (15 April 1961 - 1991)  (divorced)  (2 children)
Parents Weil, Marion
Goldman, Maurice Clarence
Relatives James Goldman (sibling)

Trivia (21)

In 2000, published a sequel to his famous (some would say infamous) 1982 book "Adventures in the Screen Trade", titled "Which Lie Did I Tell?".
Wrote a script for Mission: Impossible II (2000) that was not used. The assignment was eventually passed to Robert Towne.
Winner of the 1985 Laurel Award for lifetime achievement in screenwriting.
Author of two of the best books ever written about show business, "Adventures in the Screen Trade" and "Hype and Glory." Author of the famous quote about Hollywood, "Nobody Knows Anything."
His first editions prices vary with condition, but a first edition of Marathon Man (1976) can fetch above $100, while The Princess Bride (1987) may sell for well over $500.
After the breakup of his 27-year marriage, Goldman landed two gigs most middle-aged men would kill for. He became the only man ever to judge both the Cannes Film Festival and the Miss America Pageant in the same year. He documented his experiences in Hype and Glory, a now out-of-print memoir.
He used to leave his Manhattan apartment in the morning and write in a nearby office. At around 5:00 p.m., he was more than happy to stop writing, leave the office, and enjoy the rest of the day. "The sooner I'm done, the sooner I can go to the movies," he admitted.
Education: B.A., Oberlin College, 1952; M.A., Columbia University, 1956
Goldman was recruited as a Hollywood screenwriter after the publication of his novel "Boys and Girls Together", still in print after 40 years. An earlier novel of his, "Soldier in the Rain", already had been bought by Hollywood and served as the basis of the 1963 film starring Steve McQueen and Jackie Gleason.
Rumored to be the true author of the Academy Award-winning screenplay of Good Will Hunting (1997). Goldman denied authorship at a Writers Guild of America meeting. In other comments, Goldman has said that he merely met with co-authors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon for one day to offer encouragement and a little advice, specifically to eliminate a subplot dealing with the FBI, as the screenplay already was in fine form.
He knew he'd succeed as a screenwriter as soon as he wrote the opening scene in Harper (1966) in which Harper is forced to recycle used coffee grounds for his morning cup of coffee. Harper's dismay at the result, as realized by Paul Newman on screen, immediately created empathy between the character and the audience. Ironically, that opening sequence was the last thing he wrote for that script.
Goldman believed that Rocky (1976) beat All the President's Men (1976) for the 1976 Best Picture Academy Award due its spectacular box office run and the fact that Hollywood loved the real-life, Lana Turner-esque story of Sylvester Stallone's emergence into super-stardom from obscurity. Goldman believes that if the Hollywood community knew about Stallone's hubris, it would not have voted his film the Oscar.
Member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1988
Turned down the opportunity to write The Godfather (1972) and Superman (1978).
He had two daughters with his wife, Ilene: Jenny Rebecca (born 1962) and Susanna (born 1965, died 2015).
In the book "Hollywood Animal", fellow screenwriter Joe Eszterhas calls Goldman various expletives for "writing for the director's vision" and not for his own original ideas.
Was an avid red wine connoisseur and wrote the wine adventure caper, Year of the Comet (1992), as a result.
A notorious Anglophobe, although he described London as his favorite city.
He wrote the screenplays for five films starring Robert Redford: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), The Hot Rock (1972), The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), All the President's Men (1976) and A Bridge Too Far (1977).
Son of Marion (Weil) and Maurice Clarence Goldman. A fourth-generation American, his family were Jewish emigrants from Austria, Germany, and Bohemia. Younger brother of James Goldman.
Wrote three screenplays which were selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), All the President's Men (1976) and The Princess Bride (1987).

Personal Quotes (20)

[about Hollywood] Nobody knows anything.
[on the significance of the movie All the President's Men (1976)] "No less acute [an] observer of American politics than Governor Ronald Reagan of California said that he thought the movie eventually cost Gerald Ford the presidency against Jimmy Carter, because the film's release in April 1976 and its long run flushed to the surface again all the realities of Watergate that the Republicans had tried so hard to bury. We are talking then about a movie that may be one of the few that just might have changed the entire course of American history."
[on Sidney Lumet] Lumet never keeps anybody waiting -- no director has earned a larger reputation for efficiency and organization.
[on Alan J. Pakula] Alan is a gentleman. We had mutual acquaintances in the business and they said nothing but good things about him as a human being. Neither can I. He is well-educated and serious about his work.
[on Richard Attenborough] By far the finest, most decent human being I've ever met in the picture business.
[on Woody Allen] Most stars like to be thought of as being private people, being shy. We even grant those attributes to Woody Allen, this in spite of the fact that he must be the most visible celebrity in New York.
[on Norman Jewison] A tough, feisty, no-nonsense director.
[on the persistent rumor that he, and not Ben Affleck & Matt Damon, is the actual author of the screenplay for Good Will Hunting (1997)] I would love to say that I wrote it. Here is the truth. In my obit, it will say that I wrote it. People don't want to think those two cute guys wrote it. What happened was, they had the script. It was their script. They gave it to Rob Reiner to read, and there was a great deal of stuff in the script dealing with the F.B.I. trying to use Matt Damon for spy work because he was so brilliant in math. Rob said, "Get rid of it". They then sent them in to see me for a day - I met with them in New York - and all I said to them was, "Rob's right. Get rid of the F.B.I. stuff. Go with the family, go with Boston, go with all that wonderful stuff". And they did. I think people refuse to admit it because their careers have been so far from writing, and I think it's too bad. I'll tell you who wrote a marvelous script once, Sylvester Stallone. Rocky (1976)'s a marvelous script. God, read it, it's wonderful. It's just got marvelous stuff. And then he stopped suddenly because it's easier being a movie star and making all that money than going in your pit and writing a script. But I did not write [Good Will Hunting], alas. I would not have written the "It's not your fault" scene. I'm going to assume that 148 percent of the people in this room have seen a therapist. I certainly have, for a long time. Hollywood always has this idea that it's this shrink with only one patient. I mean, that scene with Robin Williams gushing and Matt Damon and they're hugging, "It's not your fault, it's not your fault". I thought, Oh God, Freud is so agonized over this scene. But Hollywood tends to do that with therapists.
On what he felt to be miscasting of The Stepford Wives (1975): You don't commit murder and make a new creation to have it look like Nanette Newman.
Directors lose it around age 60, they're either too rich or they can't get work anymore. And it's physically debilitating work. That's why Gran Torino (2008) amazes me. Clint Eastwood is nearly 80, and he can still make a movie like that. He is having the most amazing career.
[on Mike Nichols] Nichols' work is frivolous -- charming, light and titanically inconsequential. What Nichols is is brilliant. Brilliant and trivial and self-serving and frigid.
I make a point of never reading anything I've written in rewrites.
Directors - even though we all know from the media's portrayal of them that they are men and women of wisdom and artistic vision, masters of the subtle use of symbolism - are more often than not a bunch of insecure assholes.
Understand this: all the sleaze you've heard about Hollywood? All the illiterate scumbags who scuttle down the corridors of power? They are there, all right, and worse than you can imagine.
I know an author whose book was optioned for a movie, on the condition that the main character be made a much younger man. When the wind is right I can almost hear his screams.
Some screenplays are like Jacob Marley: dead to begin with. Many more, however, are recommended or passed on within the first 15 to 20 pages. By then, a typical story analyst (script-reader) or studio exec will be either hooked or bored. If he's hooked, Hallelujah. If he's bored, then Houston, we have a very serious problem.
[2000 interview, on his "nobody knows anything" quote] Nobody has the least idea, I believe, what will work and what won't work for audiences. Even the most successful director of all time, Mr Spielberg - look what happened to Amistad (1997)? Do you think he thought it was going to bomb? No! They don't know.
[confronted with alternate script for "All the Presidents Men"] They say I stood up and said "Gentlemen, I'm too old and too rich for this shit". Wouldn't it be great if that were true?
[2009 interview on The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)] Weren't those lions terrifying? If you can believe in the existence of evil, you can understand that story. Stephen Hopkins did a terrific job on that film. But it wasn't a great commercial success. Nobody wanted the lions to be that successful. We live in a Disney world. Maybe we miscast the lions.
If Crime didn't pay, there would be no crime.

Salary (3)

Harper (1966) $80,000
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) $400,000
Last Action Hero (1993) $1,000,000

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