Budd Schulberg, novelist and screenwriter, dies
See, this is what happens when you live to be 95, and the work you’re most likely to be remembered for is 30, 40 or 50 years in the past.
A bit of a Renaissance man when it came to writing — he did all kinds, with equal distinction — Schulberg is perhaps best known for writing the script for On the Waterfront, the 1954 classic movie in which a young Marlon Brando, as a washed-up boxer, challenges Mob control of the docks where he works. Schulberg won an Oscar for the screenplay. His other film work included another ’50s classic, A Face in the Crowd, an early expose of the corrosive power of television, featured a bitter, funny performance by Andy Griffith.
As a novelist, Schulberg wrote What Makes Sammy Run?, a scathing examination of the venality of Hollywood. It came out in 1941, exerting an enormous influence. The name “Sammy Glick” became a byword for unscrupulous ambition in showbiz–Ari Gold, on HBO’s Entourage, is a direct fictional descendent. Schulberg, however, lived to see his novel evolve into an inspirational book. “Young people today seem to admire Sammy,” Schulberg once said. “I do find it rather disconcerting.”
Schulberg’s other novels include The Disenchanted. The story of a young screenwriter collaborating with a famous but broken-down novelist on a screenplay, it was based on Schulberg’s disastrous attempt to work with F. Scott Fitzgerald in the late 1930s. The novel was a best seller, and Schulberg turned it into a Broadway play that earned a Tony Award for Jason Robards. A boxing novel, The Harder They Fall, was made into a film starring Humphrey Bogart.
The son of a Paramount Pictures executive, Schulberg grew up on back lots and movie sets. He saw first hand the slimy behavior depicted in What Makes Sammy Run? — a book that so incensed Hollywood moguls that he was barred from screenwriting for years.
A one-time Communist, Schulberg gained notoriety in 1951, during the infamous House Un-American Activities hearings, when he “named names” of communists he believed were infiltrating the Screen Writers Guild. By 2008, all was forgiven: The Writers Guild gave Schulberg a lifetime achievement award
In addition to everything else, Schulberg was an early editor at Sports Illustrated. In 2003 he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.