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William Goldman

Biography

Legendary screenwriter and author who received an Academy Award in 1969 for composing the script to Butch Cassidy as well as the Sundance Child and a different one in 1976 for his screenplay for all your President’s Males. He graduated from Columbia College or university in 1956, where he acquired his Master’s. He had written the screenplays for the movies Marathon Man as well as the Princess Bride-to-be, both which were predicated on books he had written himself. He divorced wife Ilene Jones in 1991. The few had two kids. He had written an adaptation from the publication Misery, that was compiled by Stephen King.

Quick Facts


Full Name William Goldman
Date Of Birth August 12, 1931
Place Of Birth Highland Park, IL
Profession Screenwriter
Education Columbia University, Oberlin College
Nationality American
Spouse Ilene Jones
Children Jenny Rebecca Goldman, Susanna Goldman
Parents Marion Weil, Maurice Clarence Goldman
Siblings James Goldman
Awards Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, Academy Award for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay, Edgar Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay, Writers Guild of America Award - Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement, BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay, Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Drama, Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Drama
Nominations Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay - Motion Picture, Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written Drama
Movies The Princess Bride, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President's Men, Misery, Marathon Man, A Bridge Too Far, Harper, The Stepford Wives, Maverick, Wild Card, The Ghost and the Darkness, Absolute Power, The General's Daughter, Soldier in the Rain, Dreamcatcher, The Hot Rock, Hearts in Atlantis, The Great Waldo Pepper, Masquerade, Chaplin, No Way to Treat a Lady, The Chamber, Year of the Comet, Magic, Heat, Last Action Hero, Butch and Sundance: The Early Days, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Papillon, Miss America
Star Sign Leo

  • Facts
  • Filmography
  • Awards
  • Salaries
  • Quotes
  • Trademarks
  • Pictures

#Fact
1He 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).
2A notorious Anglophobe, although he has described London as his favorite city.
3Is an avid red wine connoisseur and wrote the wine adventure caper, Year of the Comet (1992) as a result.
4In 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.
5Daughters Jenny Rebecca Goldman (born 1962) and Susanna Goldman (born 1965).
6Turned down the opportunity to write The Godfather (1972) and Superman (1978).
7Member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1988
8Goldman 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.
9He 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.
10Rumored 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.
11Goldman 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.
12He was an uncredited screenwriter on the 1993 Arnold Schwarzenegger film Last Action Hero (1993).
13Education: B.A., Oberlin College, 1952; M.A., Columbia University, 1956
14He leaves his Manhattan apartment in the morning and writes in a nearby office. At around 5:00 p.m., he's 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 admits.
15After 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.
16His 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.
17Younger brother of James Goldman.
18Author 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."
19Winner of the 1985 Laurel Award for lifetime achievement in screenwriting.
20Wrote a script for Mission: Impossible II (2000).
21In 2000, published a sequel to his famous (some would say infamous) 1982 book "Adventures in the Screen Trade", titled "Which Lie Did I Tell?".


Writer

Writer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Jake and the Giants2015inspired
Wild Card2015novel "Heat" / screenplay
The Princess Bride2012Short novel
Dreamcatcher2003screenplay
Hearts in Atlantis2001screenplay
The General's Daughter1999screenplay
Absolute Power1997screenplay
Fierce Creatures1997uncredited
The Ghost and the Darkness1996written by
The Chamber1996screenplay
Da Vinci1996Short story
Maverick1994written by
Chaplin1992screenplay
Year of the Comet1992written by
Memoirs of an Invisible Man1992screenplay
Misery1990screenplay
The Princess Bride1987book / screenplay
Heat1986novel / screenplay
Butch and Sundance: The Early Days1979characters
Mr. Horn1979TV Movie
Magic1978novel / screenplay
A Bridge Too Far1977screenplay
Marathon Man1976from: his novel / screenplay
All the President's Men1976screenplay
The Great Waldo Pepper1975screenplay
The Stepford Wives1975screenplay
Papillon1973contributing writer - uncredited
The Hot Rock1972screenplay
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid1969written by
No Way to Treat a Lady1968based on the novel by
Harper1966screenplay
Masquerade1965screenplay
Soldier in the Rain1963novel

Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Dolores Claiborne1995consultant
Malice1993consultant

Actor

Actor

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Garden's Defining Moments2015TV Mini-Series

Producer

Producer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Butch and Sundance: The Early Days1979producer

Thanks

Thanks

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Checkpoint Echo2006Short special thanks
Out of the Shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat2006Video documentary short special thanks
Telling the Truth About Lies: The Making of 'All the President's Men'2006Video documentary short special thanks
Amateur2005/IIShort special thanks
Going the Distance: Remembering 'Marathon Man'2001Video documentary short special thanks
American Masters2000TV Series documentary thanks - 1 episode
Under Suspicion2000grateful acknowledgment
Good Will Hunting1997thanks
Fierce Creatures1997special thanks
The War of the Roses1989the producers wish to thank

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Screenwriting for Dummies2006Video documentary shortHimself
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes: America's Greatest Quips, Comebacks and Catchphrases2005TV Special documentaryHimself
On Location with 'Gunga Din'2004Video documentary shortHimself
HBO First Look2003TV Series documentaryHimself - Screenwriter
American Experience2002TV Series documentaryHimself
Film Genre2002TV Series documentaryHimself
Misery Loves Company2002Video documentary shortHimself
As You Wish: The Story of 'The Princess Bride'2001Video documentary shortHimself
History vs. Hollywood2001TV Series documentaryHimself
Going the Distance: Remembering 'Marathon Man'2001Video documentary shortHimself
The Human Face2001TV Mini-Series documentaryHimself
Biography1995-2000TV Series documentaryHimself
American Masters2000TV Series documentaryHimself - Screenwriter / Novelist
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies: America's Greatest Movies1998TV Special documentaryHimself
Charlie Rose1997TV SeriesHimself - Guest
The South Bank Show1990-1992TV Series documentaryHimself
Talking Pictures1988TV Series documentaryHimself
Screenwriters: Word Into Image1982TV SeriesHimself
The 49th Annual Academy Awards1977TV SpecialHimself - Winner: Best Adapted Screenplay
The Making of 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'1970Documentary shortHimself - Narrated by
Nobody Knows Anything: Except William Goldman2017filmingHimself
Richard Attenborough: A Life2014TV MovieHimself - Screenwriter, A Bridge Too Far
Fry's Planet Word2011TV Series documentaryHimself
A Cinematic Life: The Art & Influence of Conrad Hall2010Video shortHimself
The Gospel According to Bill2010Video documentary shortHimself
Tales from the Script2009DocumentaryHimself
ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway2007DocumentaryHimself
Miracles and Mystery: Creating 'The Green Mile'2006Video documentaryHimself
Dateline NBC2006TV Series documentaryHimself
Out of the Shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat2006Video documentary shortHimself
Telling the Truth About Lies: The Making of 'All the President's Men'2006Video documentary shortHimself
All of What Follows Is True: The Making of 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'2006Video documentary shortHimself

Won awards

Won awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
2000Lifetime Achievement AwardLas Vegas Film Critics Society Awards
1994Career Achievement AwardNational Board of Review, USAFor screenwriting
1988HugoHugo AwardsBest Dramatic PresentationThe Princess Bride (1987)· Rob Reiner (director)
1985Laurel Award for Screen Writing AchievementWriters Guild of America, USA
1979EdgarEdgar Allan Poe AwardsBest Motion PictureMagic (1978)
1977OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another MediumAll the President's Men (1976)
1977WGA Award (Screen)Writers Guild of America, USABest Drama Adapted from Another MediumAll the President's Men (1976)
1971BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest ScreenplayButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
1970OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Material Not Previously Published or ProducedButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
1970WGA Award (Screen)Writers Guild of America, USABest Drama Written Directly for the ScreenButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
1967EdgarEdgar Allan Poe AwardsBest Motion PictureHarper (1966)

Nominated awards

Nominated awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
2002PFCS AwardPhoenix Film Critics Society AwardsBest Screenplay - AdaptationHearts in Atlantis (2001)
1992Saturn AwardAcademy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USABest WritingMisery (1990)
1991USC Scripter AwardUSC Scripter AwardMisery (1990)· Stephen King (author)
1989USC Scripter AwardUSC Scripter AwardThe Princess Bride (1987)
1988Saturn AwardAcademy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USABest WritingThe Princess Bride (1987)
1988WGA Award (Screen)Writers Guild of America, USABest Screenplay Based on Material from Another MediumThe Princess Bride (1987)
1977Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest Screenplay - Motion PictureMarathon Man (1976)
1977Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest Screenplay - Motion PictureAll the President's Men (1976)
1977BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest ScreenplayAll the President's Men (1976)
1977EdgarEdgar Allan Poe AwardsBest Motion PictureMarathon Man (1976)
1977WGA Award (Screen)Writers Guild of America, USABest Drama Adapted from Another MediumMarathon Man (1976)
1973EdgarEdgar Allan Poe AwardsBest Motion PictureThe Hot Rock (1972)
1970Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest ScreenplayButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
1967WGA Award (Screen)Writers Guild of America, USABest Written American DramaHarper (1966)

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

#Quote
1I 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.
2Understand 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.
3Directors - 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.
4I make a point of never reading anything I've written in rewrites.
5[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.
6Directors 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.
7On 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.
8[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.
9[on Norman Jewison] A tough, feisty, no-nonsense director.
10[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.
11[on Richard Attenborough] By far the finest, most decent human being I've ever met in the picture business.
12[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.
13[on Sidney Lumet] Lumet never keeps anybody waiting -- no director has earned a larger reputation for efficiency and organization.
14[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."
15[about Hollywood:] "Nobody knows anything."


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