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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Gene Wilder Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1961-2000
Creator: Wilder, Gene (1933)
Extent: 3.75 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0526
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Actor, film star, writer, director and producer, University of Iowa alumnus (1955). The Wilder papers include scripts and drafts of scripts, contracts and related papers, and a group of photographs.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs: Boxes 7, 8; Videotape: Box 8; Audio cassette: Box 8

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: The present collection is the joint gift of Mr. Wilder and his brother-in-law, Gilbert Pearlman, and was accessioned in 2001. Additional material was contributed by Sharon R. Fox in July and December 2001 and March 2003.

Preferred Citation: Gene Wilder Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman
Email: lib-spec@uiowa.edu
Website: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/sc

Born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 11, 1933, Gene Wilder is the son of William J. and Jeanne (Baer) Silberman. He adopted Gene Wilder for his professional name at the age of 26, because, I had always liked Gene because of Thomas Wolfe's character Eugene Gant in Look Homeward, Angel, and Of Time and the River. And I was always a great admirer of Thornton Wilder.
 
He briefly attended the Black-Foxe Military Institute in Los Angeles, then completed high school in Milwaukee in 1951. A student of acting from the age of twelve, he attended the University of Iowa, took part in student dramatic productions, played in summer stock during vacations, and obtained his B.A. degree in 1955, then enrolled in the Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, England, where he studied judo, fencing, gymnastics, and voice.
 
Wilder's 1961 off-Broadway New York debut was in Arnold Wesker's Roots. In his first Broadway appearance, November 1961, he played in Graham Greene's comedy The Complaisant Lover, winning the Clarence Derwent Award.
 
Wilder went to Hollywood in the late 1960's to perform first in Bonnie and Clyde, then in The Producers, and later in Young Frankenstein (1974), which he co-wrote, and in The World's Greatest Lover (1975), of which he was star, writer, director, and producer. Other films included Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Paramount, 1971), Stanley Donen's The Little Prince (Paramount, 1974), Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask (United Artists, 1972), and Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles (Warner Brothers, 1974). He directed his own script, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (Twentieth Century-Fox, 1975) and played the lead in Silver Streak (Twentieth Century-Fox, 1976). More recent films include The Frisco Kid (1979) , Stir Crazy (1980), The Woman in Red (1984), See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989), and Another You (1991).
 
Wilder has also taken on numerous television roles including three NBC's Dupont Show of the Week presentations during 1962. He appeared as the Head Waiter in Reunion with Death on The Defenders (CBS, 1962), Yonkel in Home for Passover on Eternal Light (NBC, 1966), and Bernard in Death of a Salesman (CBS, 1966). Recent appearances have included a series Something Wilder (1994), Murder in a Small Town (1999), Alice in Wonderland (1999), and The Lady in Question (1999).

Following donor notes, the collection has been organized in six series. The first five (Boxes 1-7) were the gift of Mr. Wilder and his brother-in-law Gil Pearlman:

I. Scripts - produced (written or co-written by and strarring Gene Wilder).

II. Scripts - produced (starring, but not written by, Gene Wilder)

III. Scripts -- unproduced (written or co-written by Gene Wilder)

IV. Correspondence and Documents

V. Photographs and Clipped Images of Gene Wilder

The sixth series (Box 8) consists of publicity and fan club materials gathered and given to the collection by Ms. Sharon R. Fox of Chicago. Folders within each box are numbered.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: SCRIPTS -- PRODUCED (WRITTEN OR CO-WRITTEN BY AND STARRING GENE WILDER)
Series 2: SCRIPTS -- PRODUCED (STARRING, BUT NOT WRITTEN BY, GENE WILDER)
Series 3: SCRIPTS -- UNPRODUCED (WRITTEN OR CO-WRITTEN BY GENE WILDER)
Series 4: CORRESPONDENCE AND DOCUMENTS
Series 5: PHOTOGRAPHS AND CLIPPED IMAGES OF GENE WILDER
Series 6: SHARON FOX - GENE WILDER MATERIALS RECEIVED 7/24/2001, 12/7/2001 & 3/14/2003

  • Series 1: SCRIPTS -- PRODUCED (WRITTEN OR CO-WRITTEN BY AND STARRING GENE WILDER)
  • Box 1:
  • Young Frankenstein, 4th draft, February 7 - 1974
  • The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, draft of February - 1975
  • The World's Greatest Lover, final draft, January 3 - 1977
  • Skippy (aka "Sunday Lovers"), 2nd draft of October 8 - 1979
  • The Woman In Red (draft titled "My First Affair"), January 7 - 1983
  • The Woman In Red (draft titled "Boys Will Be Boys"), January 28 - 1983
  • The Woman In Red (combined continuity), July 10 - 1984
  • See No Evil, Hear No Evil (shooting script by Gene Wilder)
  • Box 2:
  • See No Evil, Hear No Evil (shooting script by Gene Wilder)
  • See No Evil, Hear No Evil (shooting script by Gene Wilder), draft: August 25 and with revises through November 18 - 1988
  • See No Evil, Hear No Evil (screenplay by Arne Sultan & Earl Barret and Andrew Kurtzman & Eliot Wald)
  • Haunted Honeymoon, draft of June 20 - 1985
  • Murder In A Small Town, [Television] 1st draft, January - 1998
  • Murder In A Small Town, 1st revision, March 4 - 1998
  • Murder In A Small Town, 2nd revision, March 26 - 1998
  • Murder In A Small Town, 3rd revision (final), April 23 - 1998
  • The Lady In Question, [Television] - 2nd revision, February 11 - 1999
    Under original title, "Why Kill the Old Lady?"
  • Box 3:
  • The Lady In Question, [Television] - 2nd revision, February 11 - 1999
    Under original title, "Why Kill the Old Lady?"
  • The Lady In Question, [Television] - Final draft, March 14 - 1999
  • Series 2: SCRIPTS -- PRODUCED (STARRING, BUT NOT WRITTEN BY, GENE WILDER)
  • Box 3:
  • Stir Crazy, draft of January 18 - 1980
    Earlier title "Prison Rodeo"
  • "New York Times" (early title of Funny About Love, with Gene Wilder Notes) - 1989-1990
  • "New York Times," 2nd copy with revises spanning November through January - 1989-1990
  • Another You (with Gene Wilder Notes), shooting draft, September 17 - 1990
  • Series 3: SCRIPTS -- UNPRODUCED (WRITTEN OR CO-WRITTEN BY GENE WILDER)
  • Box 3:
  • Dying For A Laugh, 1st draft, November 5 - 1999
    Under original title, "A Barrel of Money"
  • Dying For A Laugh, 2nd draft , January 20 - 2000
  • Box 4:
  • Hesitation Waltz
  • Tough Guy
  • Kissing, drafts of December 31, with new structures January 20 - 1982-1983
  • Kissing, marked "work copy", January 20 - 1983
  • The Naked Lady, 2nd draft, April 1 - 1980
    2 copies, 1 marked
  • Box 5:
  • All Day Suckers (aka "Double Whoopee"), draft of March 15 - 1983
  • Double Whoopee, draft of December 7 - 1987
  • Series 4: CORRESPONDENCE AND DOCUMENTS
  • Sub-Series: Gene Wilder - Gilbert Pearlman correspondence on:
  • Box 5:
  • Murder In A Small Town
  • The Lady in Question (original title "Why Kill the Old Lady?")
  • Dying For A Laugh (original title "A Barrel of Money")
  • Another You, notes
  • Double Whoopee, notes; treatment; contract; correspondence
  • Frisco Kid, (aka "No Knife") notes; correspondence
  • Funny About Love, (aka "New York Times") contract with Duffy Films; memorandum of agreement
  • Box 6:
  • Grand Pere, Legal Correspondence (film not made)
  • Hanky Panky, Columbia Pictures Agreement
  • Haunted Honeymoon, publicity packet
  • Henry Orlow, concept for a screenplay
  • Hold The Baby, original-idea outline
    3 pages
  • Young Frankenstein, contract with 20th-Century Fox (with Jouer)
  • Agreements between Pal Mel and The Ladd Company - 1981
  • See No Evil, Hear No Evil, notes
  • Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, notes, contracts
  • Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, novelization agreement
  • Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, order shots, story boards
  • Skippy (aka "Sunday Lovers"), correspondence; notes
  • Box 7:
  • Stir Crazy, correspondence; contract
  • The Woman In Red, correspondence; contracts; schedule
  • Boys Will Be Boys, correspondence; contracts
  • The World's Greatest Lover, budget; shooting schedules
  • The Naked Lady, correspondence
  • Silver Streak, contracts
  • Series 5: PHOTOGRAPHS AND CLIPPED IMAGES OF GENE WILDER
  • Sub-Series: Stage
  • Box 7:
  • Stage photos
  • with Carol Channing in G.B. Shaw's The Millionaires (clipped from Life Magazine)
  • with Marsh Hunt and Ann Revere in James Agee's A Death in the Family
  • with Walter Pidgeon in Graham Greene's The Complaisant Lover - 1961
  • Sub-Series: Films
  • Box 7:
  • Films photos
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (3)
  • Bonnie and Clyde (2 clipped images)
  • Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex
  • The Frisco Kid (2; one with Robert Aldrich)
  • The Little Prince
  • The Producers
  • Silver Streak (2: with Richard Pryor; with Jill Clayburgh)
  • Start the Revolution Without Me (on set; with Donald Sutherland)
  • Stir Crazy (with Richard Pryor)
  • The World's Greatest Lover (with Sandra Roveta)
  • Young Frankenstein, (2) cover of Action: Directors Guild of America: January-February - 1975
  • Gene Wilder with Prince Charles in a crowd on street (in New York City?)
  • Two images adhered to glass. Handle with care!
    The Conservation Lab was unable in 4/2001 to remove the two images adhered to glass without damage to the photographic emulsion. Handle Box 7 with care!
  • Blazing Saddles
    image is adhered to glass
  • Young Frankenstein with Teri Garr
    image is adhered to glass
  • Series 6: SHARON FOX - GENE WILDER MATERIALS RECEIVED 7/24/2001, 12/7/2001 & 3/14/2003
  • Box 8:
  • Studio portrait and candid photographs of Gene Wilder; other printed portraits and drawings.
  • Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, 8 production stills
  • Blazing Saddles, cast and credit sheets
  • Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx, 3 production stills
  • Silver Streak
  • Production still
  • Clippings
  • Geneology, the Gene Wilder Fan Club Journal, Summer - 1977
  • Silver Streak, T-shirt for publicity purposes
  • Two Times Two, 2 production stills
  • The World's Greatest Lover
  • 3 production stills
  • Candid of Gene Wilder with Sharon Fox
  • Clippings
  • Geneology, with photograph of Gene Wilder and Sharon Fox, Fall - 1977
  • Geneology, Spring - 1978
  • Videotape in beta format
  • Lobby card
  • The World's Greatest Lover, Press kit (with several production stills)
  • Clipped articles; Gene Wilder Fan Club ephemera
  • A Touch of Madness, poetry by Judith Nathanson, drawings by Christine Gardener.
  • Miscellaneous
  • Cassette recording labeled "Gene at Sher[man] Oaks Coll[ege]"
  • Return address of the Gene Wilder Fan Club
  • Transcription of an interview with Gene Wilder
    Undated photocopy
  • Approximately 23 letters and postcards from Judith Nathanson on Gene Wilder Fan Club letterheads - 1976-1978
  • Additional letters and postcards from Nathanson.
  • Playbills
  • Lunch Hour, Ethel Barrymore Theatre Playbill for this play starring Gilda Radner and Sam Waterston, directed by Mike Nichols
  • Gilda Radner Live from New York, Winter Garden Theatre Playbill
  • Chicago Tribune TV Week, with cover story on ABC production Gilda Radner, April 28 - 2002

This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.


Browse:
Film & Television Writing and Directing
Study of Theatre Arts and Popular Culture