Budd Schulberg

“Ava enjoyed her friendship with Ernest Hemingway, their times together in Spain and Cuba. His books were among her favorite. She had taken pride in her association with his work on-screen and took to heart the compliments he had offered for her perfomances.
Ava’s friendships with writers were among the most prized relationships in her life.With Robert Graves she continued to visit and exchange notes and letters. She wrote to him at low points of her life, with intimate confessions of her fears and disappointments. He would send her the words of advice or comfort, sometimes a small poem, often with a little drawing beside it.
She visited him in Majorca and in England, and went with him to Oxford to attend his final lecture as professor of poetry at the university. At the reception afterward she chatted with ”Lord of the Rings“ author J.R.R. Tolkien, who found her "easy and agreeable”…
There were other writers she counted as friends: Budd Schulberg, James Baldwin, Henry Miller, the author of “Tropic of Cancer” begged for an introduction to Ava from George Cukor. The old Brooklyn roue thought her the sexiest female he’d ever seen. They exchanged letters, and she sometimes called him for a chat at his Pacific Palisades home. He sent her autographed copies of his latest works. A print he sent her of his watercolor “Three Heads”, signed and inscribed to “Divine Ava”, hung in her London residence for many years.“

- Lee Server, biographer


Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald➣ September 24, 1896—December 21, 1940

“Anyway, I told him I knew these books and I liked them a lot, putting it mildly. Scott was amazed. He said, ‘I didn’t think anybody your age read any of those books. You know they’re practically out of print.’ I think he said he’d made thirteen bucks in the previous year; he said he had only sold three copies of one and five of the other. He kept saying, ‘I’m surprised that anybody your age reads me anymore.’” -Budd Schulberg

“He wished for immortality and the verbal music he made early on held out the possibility of that wish fulfillment. But when he died at the age of forty-four, there was no indication that his imprint would outlive him. For me, he also left a touch of magic, intriguing us continuously to try to fathom his cleverness. My memory harbors a gentle man with a nearly collapsed dream whose prevailing gift gave him the strength to keep doing what he did best—to write.” -Frances Kroll Ring

In 1923, Dartmouth College held its first “Queen of the Snows” competition, a pageant that soon became an obsession for undergraduate socialites and their followers, and a national media event.  But in 1939, in addition to the debutantes from Radcliffe and Barnard, the campus played host to a group of visitors from Hollywood. Fitzgerald and the writer Budd Schulberg, a recent Dartmouth graduate, had been hired by the producer Walter Wanger, then working for United Artists, to develop a script based on the celebration.

It was Fitzgerald’s latest attempt at a professional comeback. It had been five hard years since the publication of “Tender Is the Night,” and he had spent them battling alcoholism, attempting – and largely failing – to jump start a screenwriting career, and occasionally writing self-lacerating confessionals for Esquire magazine.

By the time the pair disembarked from the Winter Carnival Special train from New York, Fitzgerald had already been drunk for about 24 hours, according to Mr. Schulberg. Unaware of the author’s alcoholism, Mr. Schulberg’s father had presented the travelers with two bottles of Mumm Champagne for their flight from Burbank. In New York, Fitzgerald had snuck out to a bar. And somehow, Mr. Schulberg recalled during a phone interview last month, Fitzgerald was able to procure liquor on the train as well. During the whole visit, Fitzgerald maintained a constant state of unproductive inebriation, much to the dismay of Wanger, who attended the festivities as well.

“Walter Wanger had arranged for the head of the English department and some of the top people there to meet with us and hear our projection of story lines for the film,” Mr. Schulberg said. “Both of us looked disreputable. I don’t think, honestly, we’d changed our clothes since we’d left the airplane. And on top of all the other drinking, a favorite sociology professor of mine was a huge fan of Fitzgerald’s, and so to celebrate, at a moment when I was trying to taper Scott off, he came to the room with a bottle of whiskey and it all started all over again.”

The two never achieved sobriety and worked little. When pressed, Fitzgerald would launch into rambling memories, Mr. Schulberg said, or instigate a discussion of the character of the new generation of college undergraduates. On Saturday night, after visiting parties at the Alpha Delta Phi and Psi Upsilon fraternity houses, they returned to the inn in yet another earnest attempt to start work on their screenplay.

“We went down to the coffee shop to try to sober up,” Mr. Schulberg said. “We went around from the back where the coffee shop was to the front steps of the inn, and there was Walter Wanger, looking immaculate and 10 feet tall. And when he saw us, his words were, ‘I don’t know when the next train out of here is, but you two boys are going to be on it.’ ” The two men returned to New York, where, with no hotel and with Fitzgerald running a 104-degree fever, they checked into Doctors Hospital. Fitzgerald stayed there for three days before returning to Hollywood. (x)

Remember that night in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said, “Kid, this ain’t your night. We’re going for the price on Wilson.” You remember that? “This ain’t your night”! My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville! You was my brother, Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn’t have to take them dives for the short-end money.
—  Budd Schulberg, On the Waterfront

“I believed him because the truth is never hard to recognize. Nothing is ever quite so drab and repetitious and forlorn and ludicrous as truth.”
― Budd Schulberg, What Makes Sammy Run?: A Novel

NYC-born (raised Hollywood) novelist and screenwriter, Budd Schulberg was born on this day in 1914, well-known for his screenplay for “On the Waterfront” (1954), which won eight Academy Awards.

Budd Schulberg,

I’m not insane about Brando for [On The Waterfront]. In fact, in my opinion he is quite wrong. But he’s a fine actor and if he’s really excited about it and will work like a beginner trying to get a start, he can be fine. He’s got to be hungry and anxious. The power to be that disappears with your picture on an ad. If we don’t get Brando, I’m for Paul Newman. This boy will definitely be a film star. I have absolutely no doubt. He’s just as good looking as Brando, and his masculinity, which is strong, is also more actual. He’s not as good an actor as Brando yet, and probably will never be. But he’s a darn good actor with plenty of power, plenty of insides, plenty of sex.

Elia Kazan, July 1953