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Budd Schulberg was a gifted writer whose novels, plays, and screenplays often commented on the ills of modern American society. Schulberg explored the ruthless ambition and obsessive materialism spawned by American capitalism. His writings deal with the American drive to succeed and its dynamics of success and failure. Among his most famous works are the controversial novel, What Makes Sammy Run? (1941), a story about a success driven office boy's quick rise to movie executive, and the film On the Waterfront (1954), concerning a young man's moral conflict as to whether he should inform the authorities about violent mob domination of the New York docks. The film won several Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay, and starred a young Marlon Brando.
Schulberg was raised in Hollywood, the son of producer and Hollywood mogul B.P. Schulberg. His much acclaimed autobiography, Moving Pictures: Memories of a Hollywood Prince (1981), is a tribute to his parents and documents the rise of American film industry.
Image courtesy the Spruance Collection of the Bucks County Historical Society.
Education and Training:
Dartmouth College, BA, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1936
United Sates Navy, Lieutenant, 1943-1946
Teachers and Influences:
Budd Schulberg's father, Benjamin "B. P." Schulberg, was a Hollywood film pioneer and head of productions at Paramount Studios. He aslo had his own film studio.
Budd Schulberg worked as screenwriter for David O. Selznick, Samuel Goldwyn, and Walter Wanger in Hollywood. He was a boxing editor for Sports Illustrated and the sport was a reoccurring theme in his work.
He was influenced by F. Scott Fitzgerald, with whom he wrote Winter Carnival and on whom he based his novel and play, The Disenchanted. Other influences included Mark Twain, Frank Norris, Jack London, Upton Sinclair, John Steinbeck, Leo Tolstoy, Dostoevski, Herman Mellville, Joseph Conrad, and Ernest Hemingway.
Colleagues were Henry Faulkner, Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, Nathanael West, Samson Raphaelson, Daulton Trumbo, Charles Brackett, John O'Hara, his brother Stuart Schulberg, and director Elia Kazan.
Connection to Bucks County
Immediately after World War II, after being in charge of photographic evidence for the Nuremberg trials, Schulberg did not know where to settle. His first novel, What Makes Sammy Run? (1941), had so angered the Hollywood establishment that they threatened to "deport him." Even though Schulberg was one of only a few screenwriters actually raised in Hollywood, Tinseltown did not want him back. However, many of his Hollywood writer friends lived in Bucks County part-time, including Dorothy Parker and Alan Campbell, the late Nathanael West, Moss Hart, and Samson Raphaelson. Impressed by what they had to say about Bucks County, Budd Schulberg and his wife Victoria and their two children moved to the Newtown area in 1946. Two years later he purchased an eighteenth-century stone farm house, Inghamdale, on York Road near New Hope. While he lived at Inghamdale he wrote the screen play for On the Waterfront (1954). He commuted between New Hope and New York-area docks while doing research for the film and during its production. The sequel, the novel Waterfront (1955) was also written while he lived at Inghamdale. He wrote the novels The Harder They Fall (1947) and The Disenchanted (1950) while living at Inghamdale. Fascinated by boxing, Schulberg built a boxing ring in the barn on the farm and made a few attempts at farming by raising pigs, chickens and sheep. Schulberg left Bucks County in 1955. He later lived on Long Island where he also died. Schulberg fondly rememberd Bucks County as " the best place I ever found for writing."
Colleagues and Affiliations
Among his colleagues and friends were Mike Ellis, producer and owner of the Bucks County Playhouse and St. John Terrell, producer and owner of the Lambertville Music Circus; authors and screen writers Dorothy Parker and Alan Campbell (Schulberg assisted on the script for A Star is Born), Samson Raphaelson, Nathaniel West, Moss Hart, Arthur Koestler, Felix Holt, Earl Mohn, and Joseph Schrank.
Schulberg was friends with painter Charles Child and his wife, Fredericka Child. Sylvia Baumgarten Cozzens, wife of author James Gould Cozzens who lived in nearby Lambertville, New Jersey, was Schulberg's literary agent.
Outstanding Work in Fiction, American Library Association, National Book Critics, The Disenchanted, 1950
Academy Award, Best Screenplay, On the Waterfront, 1954
Venice Festival Award, On the Waterfront, 1954
Foreign Correspondents Award, On the Waterfront, 1954
Screen Writers Guild Award, On the Waterfront, 1954
New York Critics Award, On the Waterfront, 1954
Christopher Award, novel, Waterfront, 1955
German Film Critics Award, screenplay, A Face in The Crowd, 1957
Special Emmy Award, Angry Voices in Watts
NAACP Image Award
Recipient of Humanitarian Awards including Amistad Award, Watts Head Start Award, New England Theatre Conference Award, and Muscular Dystrophy Association Award
Army Commendation Ribbon, for gathering photographic evidence of war crimes for Nuremberg trials, 1945-1946
Doctor of Law (honorary), Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1960
Doctor of Law (honorary), Long Island University, Greenville, New York, 1983
Doctor of Law (honorary), Hofstra University, Hemstead, New York, 1985