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Budd Schulberg

Budd Schulberg
File:Budd Schulberg - 1967.jpg
Schulberg in 1967
Born Seymour Wilson Schulberg
(1914-03-27)March 27, 1914
New York, New York
Died August 5, 2009(2009-08-05) (aged 95)
Quiogue, New York
Occupation Film writer, sports writer, novelist
Period 1937–1982
Spouse Virginia Lee Ray
(m.1936-1943; divorced; 1 child)
Agnes Victoria Anderson
(m.1943-1964; divorced; 2 children)
Geraldine Brooks
(m.1964-1977; her death)
Betsy Ann Langman
(m.1978-2009; his death; 2 children)

Budd Schulberg (March 27, 1914 – August 5, 2009) was an American screenwriter, television producer, novelist and sports writer. He was known for his 1941 novel, What Makes Sammy Run?, his 1947 novel The Harder They Fall, his 1954 Academy Award-winning screenplay for On the Waterfront, and his 1957 screenplay for A Face in the Crowd.

Early life

Born Seymour Wilson Schulberg, he was the son of Hollywood film-producer B. P. Schulberg and Adeline (Jaffe) Schulberg, who founded a talent agency taken over by her brother, agent/film producer Sam Jaffe.

Schulberg attended Deerfield Academy and then went on to Dartmouth College, where he was actively involved in the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern humor magazine and was a member of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity.[1] In 1939, he collaborated on the screenplay for Winter Carnival, a light comedy set at Dartmouth. One of his collaborators was F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was fired because of his alcoholic binge during a visit with Schulberg to Dartmouth.[2] Dartmouth College awarded Schulberg an honorary degree in 1960.

World War II

While serving in the Navy during World War II, Schulberg was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), working with John Ford's documentary unit. Following VE Day, he was reportedly among the first American servicemen to liberate the Nazi concentration camps.[3] He was involved in gathering evidence against war criminals for the Nuremberg Trials, an assignment that included arresting documentary film maker Leni Riefenstahl at her chalet in Kitzbühel, Austria, ostensibly to have her identify the faces of Nazi war criminals in German film footage captured by the Allied troops.[4]


Being the son of a successful Hollywood producer, Schulberg had an insider's viewpoint on the true happenings of Hollywood, and his literature and film reflected this.

His most famed writing What Makes Sammy Run? allowed the public to see the harshness of Hollywood stardom via Sammy Glick's Cinderella story that does not end happily ever after. This novel was criticized by some as being self-directed antisemitism.[5]

Schulberg in 1954

In 1950, Schulberg published The Disenchanted, about a young screenwriter who collaborates on a screenplay about a college winter festival with a famous novelist at the nadir of his career. The novelist (who was then assumed by reviewers to be a thinly disguised portrait of Fitzgerald, who had died ten years earlier) is portrayed as a tragic and flawed figure, with whom the young screenwriter becomes disillusioned. The novel was the 10th bestselling novel in the United States in 1950[6] and was adapted as a Broadway play in 1958, starring Jason Robards (who won a Tony Award for his performance) and George Grizzard as the character loosely based on Schulberg. In 1958, Schulberg wrote and co-produced (with his younger brother, Stuart) the film Wind Across the Everglades, directed by Nicholas Ray.

Schulberg wrote the 1957 film A Face in the Crowd starring newcomer Andy Griffith in which an obscure country singer rises to fame, and becomes extraordinarily manipulative to preserve his success and power.

Schulberg encountered political controversy in 1951 when screenwriter Richard Collins, testifying to the House Un-American Activities Committee, named Schulberg as a former member of the Communist Party.[7] Schulberg testified as a friendly witness that Party members had sought to influence the content of What Makes Sammy Run and "named names" of other Hollywood communists.[8]

Schulberg was also a sports writer and former chief boxing correspondent for Sports Illustrated. He was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2002 in recognition of his contributions to the sport.[citation needed]

In 1965, after a devastating riot had ripped apart the fabric of the Watts section of Los Angeles, Schulberg formed the Watts Writers Workshop in an attempt to ease frustrations and bring artistic training to the economically impoverished district.[citation needed]

In 1982 Schulberg wrote "Moving Pictures, Memoirs of a Hollywood Prince", an autobiography covering his youth in Hollywood growing up in the '20s and '30s among the famous motion picture actors and producers as the son of B.P. Schulberg, head of Paramount Studios.

Personal life and death

Schulberg's third marriage, to actress Geraldine Brooks, ended with her death; they had no children. He is survived by his fourth wife, the former Betsy Ann Langman, and four of his five children: Victoria (by first wife, Virginia Ray, known as Jigee, who subsequently married Peter Viertel), Stephen and David (by second wife, Victoria; David was a Vietnam veteran who predeceased his father), Benn and Jessica (by fourth wife). His niece Sandra Schulberg[9] was an executive producer of the Academy Award nominated film Quills, among other movies. His mother, of The Ad Schulberg Agency, served as his agent until her death in 1977. His brother, Stuart Schulberg, was a movie and television producer (David Brinkley's Journal, The Today Show). His sister, Sonya Schulberg (O'Sullivan) is an occasional writer (novel They Cried a Little and stories).

Budd Schulberg died in his home at 12 Saint George Place, Quiogue, New York, aged 95.

See also


  1. ^ Membership Directory, 2010, Pi Lambda Phi Inc
  2. ^ Tanz, Jason (7 Feb 2003). "Lost Weekend: F. Scott and Budd Go to Dartmouth". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Cullum, Paul (6 July 2006). "A Face in the In Crowd". LA Weekly. 
  4. ^ Kennicott, Philip (29 Nov 2005). "Art of Justice: The Filmmakers At Nuremberg". Washington Post. 
  5. ^ "Budd Schulberg: The Screen Playwright as the Author," in The Cineaste Interviews, ed. Dan Georgakas and Lenny Rubenstein (Chicago: Lake View Press, 1983)
  6. ^ Publishers Weekly list of bestselling novels in the United States in the 1950s
  7. ^ Joyce, Gare (June 2004). "Unrepentant". The Walrus. 
  8. ^ Trussell, C. P. (24 May 1951). "Schulberg Tells of Red Dictation: Move To Control His Writing Cause Him to Leave Party" (PDF). The New York Times. [Schulberg] testified voluntarily before [HUAC] today that he became a Communist during the late Nineteen Thirties but quit the party when it tried to dictate what he should write…. He named John Howard Lawson, one of the Hollywood Ten, as trying to pressure him to write under party guidance, and 'named names' of Waldo Salt, Ring Lardner Jr., Lester Cole, John Bright, Paul Jarrico, Gordon Kahn, writers; Herbert Biberman, director; and Meta Reis Rosenberg, agent. 
  9. ^ Sandra Schulberg at the Internet Movie Database

Further reading

  • Beck, Nicholas. Budd Schulberg: A Bio-Bibliography Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2001.

External links