(Goldman with James Caan on the set of "A Bridge Too Far"- 1976)
BY LEE PFEIFFER
There's an old joke among writers about the naive young starlet who thought she could make it in Hollywood by sleeping with screenwriters. Indeed, the people who made it possible for hit films to exist by writing the scenarios the actors carried out on screen were often regarded as being very low on the industry totem pole- and relatively low-paid as well. Not so with novelist and screenwriter William Goldman, who elevated regard for screenwriters while demanding- and receiving- the kind of breakthrough salaries that revolutionized the film industry's respect for writers. Goldman has died from cancer in Manhattan at age 87. He was known to be opinionated, abrasive and demanding, but no one questioned his talents. He won Oscars for "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "All the President's Men". Among his other screenplays: "Harper" (aka "The Moving Target"), "Marathon Man" (adapted from his own novel), "A Bridge Too Far", "The Princess Bride", "No Way to Treat a Lady", "The Hot Rock", "The Stepford Wives", "The Great Waldo Pepper", "Magic", "The Princess Bride" (adapted from his own novel), "Misery", "Year of the Comet", "Chaplin", "Maverick" and "The Ghost and the Darkness". Goldman was inspired to take up screenwriting after buying a book about the profession in an all-night Times Square book shop. His first novel to be adapted for the screen was "Soldier in the Rain", though the screenplay was written by Blake Edwards and Maurice Richlin. Goldman's book "Adventures in the Screen Trade", a scathing look at the film industry, is still widely-read. He famously wrote of his conclusion about competence among studio executives: "Nobody knows anything". Goldman's brother James, was also an Oscar winner, having written the play "The Lion in Winter" for which he received the award for Adapted Screenplay. Even if you've never heard of Goldman, you're familiar with some of his dialogue which has become ingrained in popular culture. The Washington Post provides examples. Click here to read.