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William Goldman, Oscar-winning screenwriter of Butch Cassidy and All The President’s Men, dies at 87, Entertainment News & Top Stories

LOS ANGELES (NYTIMES) – William Goldman, who gained Academy Awards for his screenplays for Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid and All The President’s Men and who, regardless of being one in all Hollywood’s most profitable screenwriters, was an outspoken critic of the film business, died on Friday in Manhattan. He was 87.

The trigger was colon most cancers and pneumonia, stated Susan Burden, his associate.

In his lengthy profession, which started within the 1960s and lasted into the 21st century, Goldman additionally wrote the screenplays for common movies like Misery, A Bridge Too Far, The Stepford Wives and Chaplin.

He was a prolific novelist as effectively, and several other of his screenplays have been tailored from his personal novels, notably The Princess Bride and Marathon Man.

In a business the place writers usually function in relative obscurity, Goldman turned a celeb in his personal proper; in his heyday, his title was as a lot an asset to a movie’s manufacturing and success as these of the director and stars.

Eight of his movies every grossed greater than US$100 million domestically.

Called “the world’s greatest and most famous living screenwriter” by the critic Joe Queenan in a 2009 profile in The Guardian, Goldman achieved renown in Hollywood within the late 1960s when he bought his first unique screenplay, for Butch Cassidy, to 20th Century Fox for US$400,000 (the equal of greater than US$2.75 million in 2018 , or S$three.7 million), a file for a screenplay on the time.

Goldman had written the screenplay – the story of two outlaws from historical past who attempt to evade the legislation within the Old West – in 1965 whereas instructing inventive writing at Princeton University.

Released in 1969, Butch Cassidy, starring Paul Newman as Cassidy and Robert Redford because the Sundance Kid, helped propel the comparatively unheralded Redford to superstardom and established Goldman as a significant Hollywood participant.

Despite his Hollywood success, although, Goldman considered the movie business with a jaundiced eye. As he usually identified, he thought of himself not a screenwriter however a novelist who wrote screenplays. He wrote greater than 20 novels, some utilizing pen names, along with greater than 20 screenplays.

He additionally wrote stage performs, however with little success. Two of them opened on Broadway within the early 1960s however shortly closed. Late in his profession he tailored his script for Misery, based mostly on Stephen King’s thriller, for Broadway, however that was a disappointment as effectively, opening to poor opinions and shutting after 102 performances.

Goldman selected to stay in New York City reasonably than in Los Angeles, to keep away from what he considered because the distractions and irrationality of the Hollywood scene.

“Screenplay writing is not an art form,” he stated in a Publishers Weekly interview in 1983, the yr his best-selling insider’s view of Hollywood, Adventures In The Screen Trade, was revealed.

“It’s a skill; it’s carpentry; it’s structure. I don’t mean to knock it – it ain’t easy. But if it’s all you do, if you only write screenplays, it is ultimately denigrating to the soul. You may get lucky and get rich, but you sure won’t get happy.”


In Adventures In The Screen Trade, Goldman made headlines in his famously thin-skinned business when he declared, “Nobody knows anything,” a succinct evaluation of the film business that was embraced by Hollywood insiders and movie critics alike.

Expanding on his remark, he wrote, “Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work.”

Goldman stated many occasions that he didn’t contemplate himself a very gifted author, however he displayed a deft contact as a storyteller when it got here to writing screenplays.

“I have a theory that we gravitate toward affection,” he stated in a 1978 interview with The New York Times. “I have a facility for screenwriting. It’s gone very well. I needed something else to write besides novels, which are physically hard and take time. Since nobody wanted my stories and people seemed to want my screenplays, I gravitated towards affection.”

William Goldman was born on Aug 12, 1931, in Highland Park, Illinois, to Maurice and Marion (Weil) Goldman. His father was a businessman whose profitable profession was scuttled by alcoholism. As a baby, William Goldman watched numerous movies on the venerable Alcyon Theatre in Highland Park; he later stated that that was in all probability the place he acquired lots of his greatest concepts.

At Oberlin College in Ohio, the place he enrolled with the intent of changing into a author, he encountered the primary disappointments of his nascent profession.

“I was so programmed to fail,” he informed The Guardian. “I had shown no signs of talent as a young man.”

He managed to get the worst grade in his inventive writing class, and regardless of being fiction editor of the college’s literary journal, he was unable to get a single story revealed in it. “Everything was submitted anonymously and every issue I would sneak in a story and the three of us” – Goldman and two different editors – “would meet and I would listen while they both agreed whoever wrote this thing (my thing) was not about to get published,” Goldman wrote in Adventures In The Screen Trade.

Undaunted, after graduating with a level in English from Oberlin he went to graduate faculty at Columbia. On receiving a grasp’s diploma in 1956, he instantly started engaged on his first novel.

“I was so panicked that I would end up my life as a copywriter in an ad agency in Chicago that I wrote The Temple Of Gold in less than three weeks,” he stated in a web based chat in 2001. “I had no idea what I was doing.” It was revealed in 1957.


After publishing 5 novels, Goldman was disconsolate about his blended opinions and modest success. But his fortunes started to show when the actor Cliff Robertson, who had learn Goldman’s 1964 novel, No Way To Treat A Lady, approached him about writing a screenplay adaptation of Flowers For Algernon, Daniel Keyes’ best-selling science fiction novel a couple of mentally challenged man who is become a genius.

Goldman agreed after which, realising that he had no thought how you can write a screenplay, panicked. Unable to sleep, he recalled, he rushed from his New York City house at midnight, headed to an all-night bookstore in Times Square and found a single quantity on screenwriting.

Though he was ultimately fired by Robertson – “probably because it was a terrible screenplay,” Goldman later stated – he stored at it. (The film was later made as Charly, with a screenplay by Stirling Silliphant. Robertson gained an Oscar for his efficiency.)

Goldman attributed the file sale of his Butch Cassidy script to “a brilliant piece of agenting” by Evarts Ziegler, who engineered a bidding conflict for the script, although Goldman was just about unknown in Hollywood. The movie went on to grow to be the highest-grossing of 1969 and gained 4 Academy Awards, together with for greatest unique screenplay.

Of his many novels, Goldman was significantly keen on The Princess Bride, which was revealed in 1973. But it took nearly 15 years of missteps and false begins for his personal adaptation of it to make it to the display screen. It was finally directed by Rob Reiner, who was far much less skilled as a director than Goldman was as a screenwriter.

“I was walking on air,” Reiner later recalled. “William Goldman said it was OK for me to do this.”

In 2012, at a 25th-anniversary reunion of the Princess Bride solid, which included Mandy Patinkin and Robin Wright, Goldman was requested if he deliberate a sequel. “I’m desperate to make it and write it and I don’t know how,” he stated. “I would love to make it more than anything else I’ve not written.”

Conversely, Goldman was deeply disillusioned along with his expertise writing All The President’s Men, based mostly on the guide by The Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (performed by Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) about their function in exposing the Watergate scandal. It was a problematic undertaking by which Goldman butted heads with Redford, who was the producer in addition to the co-star, and who in later years performed down Goldman’s participation.

Goldman’s screenplay – which included the well-known line “Follow the money,” not found within the guide – gained him his second Academy Award, for greatest tailored screenplay. But he later wrote: “If you were to ask me ‘What would you change if you had your movie life to live over?’ I’d tell you that I’d have written exactly the screenplays I’ve written. Only I wouldn’t have come near All The President’s Men.”

Goldman was additionally a sought-after script physician, well-known for his uncredited work. He was extensively believed to have written the script for Good Will Hunting, the 1997 movie that introduced Matt Damon and Ben Affleck the Oscar for greatest unique screenplay. He denied having a hand in it.

“I would love to say that I wrote Good Will Hunting,” Goldman stated at a Writers Guild of America seminar in 2003. “But I did not write it, alas.”

Along with Burden, he’s survived by his daughter, Jenny Goldman, and a grandson. Another daughter, Susanna Goldman, died in 2015. His marriage to Ilene Jones led to divorce in 1991, after 30 years.

Goldman was, Queenan wrote in 2009, “the classic case of the creative genius who respects the rules, but has lived his entire life as if the rules do not apply to him.”

Goldman expressed his philosophy of writing merely in Adventures In The Screen Trade: “As a writer I believe that all the basic human truths are known. And what we try to do as best we can is come at those truths from our own unique angle, to reilluminate those truths in a hopefully different way.”

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