University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Walter Wanger

1922 - 1939

(bulk dates 1932 - 1934)

Manuscript Collection Number: 201
Accessioned: Gift of Anna D. Moyerman
Extent: 2.5 linear ft. (8 boxes)
Content: This collection contains letters, production schedules, availability lists, play scripts, scenarios,
and screen play summaries.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: 1992, Wendy Van Wyck

for reference assistance email Special Collections
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Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
(302) 831-2229

Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Walter Wanger, a Hollywood producer with a career that spanned almost five decades, was responsible for the production of many successful films, including Queen Christina (starring Greta Garbo), Stagecoach, Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent, and Robert Wise’s I Want to Live, for which Susan Hayward won an Academy Award. Wanger, an influential figure in Hollywood, was an independent producer who worked for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Columbia, United Artists, Universal, and 20th Century Fox. He also served as the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scientists from 1939 to 1945. Despite his successes, however, Walter Wanger’s name is linked to several Hollywood scandals, including two multi-million dollar movie failures and a shooting incident for which he spent 100 days in jail.

Walter Wanger was born in San Francisco on July 11, 1894. After the death of his father in 1905, Wanger and his mother, who shortened their last name from Feuchtwanger to Wanger, moved to the east coast. Wanger attended Dartmouth, where he first became interested in theater. After serving in the Army Signal Corps during World War I, Wanger produced plays for the Theater Guild in New York. In 1919, he joined Famous Players-Lasky, a movie company that later became Paramount Pictures. Wanger then married actress Justine Johnson and moved to Hollywood. In 1933, he became executive producer at MGM, where he produced Queen Christina and his favorite film, Gabriel Over the White House. After less than two years Wanger resigned from his position at MGM, but he continued to work as an independent producer at other studios.

Wanger divorced his first wife in 1938 and married actress Joan Bennett in 1940. In 1951, shortly after he produced Joan of Arc, a financial disaster, Wanger shot his wife’s talent agent whom he accused of ruining his marriage to Bennett. Wanger was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and spent 100 days in jail. After his release, Wanger regained his former position by producing Riot in Cell Block 11 and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, two low- budget films that were critical as well as financial successes. In 1963, Wanger produced his last film, Cleopatra, a $37-million-dollar failure that almost ruined 20th Century Fox. Wanger died five years later in New York at the age of 74.


“Obituaries,” The New York Times, Nov 19, 1968.

“Obituaries,” The Sunday News Journal, Dec 9, 1990.

Vison, James (ed.). The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers Volume 4: Writers and Production Artists. Chicago: St. James Press, 1987. pp. 453-454.

Scope and Content Note

The Walter Wanger Papers date from 1923 to 1938, with the vast bulk in a two-year period between 1932 to 1934. The collection includes Wanger’s professional schedules, availability lists, playscripts, scenarios, and summaries submitted for screenplay consideration.

Correspondents include J.J. Colligan, Sam Marx, Gilbert Miller, Marion Davies, Leland Heyward, Myron Selznick, Frank Capra, Noel Coward, Mary Pickford, Jimmie Durante, John Barrymore, and Cecil B. DeMille. Many of the notes and letters refer to the productions of the films Operator 13, Gabriel Over the White House, and Queen Christina. Wanger’s MGM contract, a list of MGM employees and their addresses, and a draft of Wanger’s letter of resignation from MGM are also included.

Several of the script summaries are written by MGM readers who assessed the story’s film potential. The collection includes outlines for filming sequences, a promotional newspaper for Gabriel Over the White House, and playscripts. Prominent playwrights and screenwriters represented in the collection include Leopold Atlas (Wednesday’s Child), Joseph A. Fields (Gentleman Prefer Blondes), D. Boehm (The Raven), Dorothy Cairns (Sin Takes a Holiday), Herbert Crooker (The Hollywood Murder Mystery), Francis Croisset (Silent Afraid of Love), George S. Hellman (Peacock’s Feather), Rupert Hughes, Ethel Watts, Munford Grant (The Wedding Song), Jerry Wald (Key Largo), Edgar Selwyn, Louis Joseph Vance, and G. W. Yates.

The papers and correspondence are arranged chronologically. Playscripts and other materials are arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name.

Arrangement Note

Insert Arrangement Note, or delete section

Series Outline

I.   Correspondence and Professional Papers

II.  Prose by various Individuals
     1.   Playscripts
     2.   Novelettes, Scenarios, and Summaries

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

1         Series I.  Correspondence and Professional Papers
                     Consists of personal and professional correspondence,
      		     telegrams, memoranda, notes, reports, production
                     schedules, availability lists, and other materials relating
		     to Wanger’s work as a Hollywood producer at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. 
		     Items that may be of special interest are listed in parenthesis 
		     next to the corresponding folders.

     F1        1926 May-1931
     F2        1931 May-Jul
     F3             Jul-Oct (Letter from Myron Selznick re: Hillcrest County Club, TLS.)
     F4             Oct
     F5             Oct-Nov

     F6             Nov
     F7             Dec
     F8        1932 Jan
     F9             Jan
     F10            Apr-Jun (Original sheet music for “A Brief Moment of Love"
                             by Adrian Samish and Alfred Simon.)

     F11            Jun-Nov
     F12            Dec
     F13            Dec
     F14-26    1933 Jan (F16 Contract between Walter Wanger and MGM, Ts.)
     F27            Jan-Feb

     F28-35         Feb (F29 Telegram inviting Mr. and Mrs. Wanger to a
                             party at the home of Harpo Marx, TN.
                         F29 Notice to members of the Association of Motion Picture 
                             Producers regarding nudity and offensive language 
                             in films, TL.
                         F32 Appeal from Motion Picture Relief Fund signed by 
	                     well-known artists such as Conrad Nagel, Mary Pickford,
                             and Marion Davies, TLS.)
2    F36-38             (F36 Telegram from Wanger to Jimmie Durante  TN.
                         F37 Broadside for the opening of Doomsday Circus, TD.)
     F39            Feb-Mar
     F40-50         Mar (F52 Telegram from Cecil B. Demille congratulating
                             Wanger on Gabriel Over the White House, TN.)

     F51-57         Apr
     F58            Apr-May (Invitation to the wedding of Merian C. Cooper, 
Hollywood producer, to Dorothy Hendricks, film actress, TD.) F59 Jun F60-67 Jul (F61-64 Birthday greetings to Wanger from various friends and coworkers, as well as personal thank you notes in return.) F68 Jul-Aug 3 F69-70 Aug F71 Sep F72 Oct-Dec F73 1934 Jan F74 Jan-Feb (Review of Who Will Be Clever from Variety Newspaper, TD.) F75-79 Feb F80 Feb-Mar F81-84 Mar (F81 Note from F.W. Vincent, Inc. re: contract with actress, Tallulah Bankhead, TLS. F84 Detailed 1932-1933 financial report from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, TD.) F85 Mar-Apr F86-88 Apr (F87 List of writers, directors, and artists available through Frank Joyce-Myron Selznick, Ltd., TD.) F89-91 May (F89 Letter from Columbia Pictures Corporation re: plagiarism suit in connection with Below the Sea, TLS. F89 List of exectives, producers, directors, writers, and actors available through MGM, TD. F90 Letter from Manny Strauss re: The New Deal’s effect on the film industry, TLS. F91 2 rough drafts and 1 final copy of Wanger’s resignation letter to MGM, TLS.) F92 1934 May-1938 Mar 4 F93-107 [n.d] (F93-96 Alphabetical lists of Wanger’s contacts and their addresses, with handwritten notes on page, TD. F97 List of gifts and for whom they were purchased, with handwritten notes, TD. F100 List of writers available through the William Morris Agency, TD.) Series II. Prose by Various Individuals Series II.1. Play Scripts Consists of 18 scripts submitted to Wanger for possible film treatments. F108 Atlas, Leopold. Mother and Child (Play) [n.d.] Ts [carbon], 145 p. F109 Bart, Jean and Joe Fields. S.S. Europic (Comedy-Drama). 1931 April (copyright date). Ts, 134 p. F110 Bartlett, Alice Hunt. Beyond the Emperor (Romantic Drama). 1931 June 19 (copyright date). Ts [carbon], 78 p. F111 Boehm, D. Wonderful Day or Young and In Love (Play). [n.d.] Ts [carbon], 106 p. 5 F112 Cosby, Vivian and Shirley Ward. Comic Strip (Play). [n.d.] Ts, 120 p. F113 de Croisset, Francis. Pierre or Jack (Comedy). 1931 April. Ts [carbon], 161 p. Translated from the French by Ernest F. Kuhn. F114 Hellman, George S. Peacock’s Feather (Play). [n.d.] Ts, 177 p. Contains an autograph note from the author. F115 Herendeen, Fred. The Web (A Play of Thrills). 1932 (copyright date). F116 Hume-Gibbons, Robert. The Biter, Bit (Comedy). 1928 May (copyright date). Ts [carbon], 120 p. F117 Hume-Gibbons, Robert. Released (Comedy-Drama). 1930 Sept. (copyright date). Ts [carbon], 116 p. Copyrighted under the name “Eurasia”. 6 F118 Ide, Leonard. Mrs. Tony Trentor (Comedy) [n.d.] Ts [carbon], 136 p. F119 Kimmel, Stanley. Slippery Pavements (Comedy). [n.d.] Ts [carbon], 126 p. F120 Liggett, Walter with Michael Blankfort. The Grudge Fight (Play). [n.d.] Ts, 103 p. F121 Mumford, Ethel Watts. Spare Tips (Play). [n.d.] Ts, 134 p. F122 Pezet, A.W. and Lothrop Stoddard. Action! (Play). [n.d.] Ts [carbon]. 131 p. F123 Preston, Jack. Screen Star (Play). [n.d.] Ts [mimeo], 134 p. 7 F124 Selwyn, Edgar. Love Racket (Comedy). 1931 Sep 1 (date of application for copyright.). Ts, 90 p. F125 Anonymous. Post Mortem (Play). [n.d.] Ts, 101 p. Series II.2 Novelettes, Scenarios, and Summaries F126 Bussenius, Luellen Teters. Miss Cherry Blossom (Synopsis). 1924 July 26. Ts, 10 p.Synopsis and opinion written by Harry Lee. F127 Byron, Harold. Yonder (Scenario Outline). [n.d.] Ts, 66 p. F128 Cairns, Dorothy. Liars in Love (Scenario Outline). [n.d.] Ts [carbon], 20 p. F129 Clark, Kerry. Celebrity (Novelette). [n.d.] Ts [carbon], 33 p. F130 Crooker, Herbert. The Devil’s Angel (Scenario Outline). [n.d.] Ts [carbon], 54 p. F131 Dauthendey, Max. Pastimes of an Empress(Synposis). 1923 March 24. Ts, 8p. The Synopsis is written by Marion Hammett and Harry Lee. Includes an opinion by Harry Lee. F132 de Croisset, Francis. Pierre or Jack (Summary). 1931 May 10. Ts, 12 p. Summary written by Nancy Yost. F133 Heifetz, Louis E. and Albert Gilman. The Life of Mann, Inc. (Novelette). [n.d.] Ts [carbon], 31 p. F134 Hughes, Rupert. The Hungarian Rhapsody (Scenario Outline). [n.d.] Ts, 33 p. (33 leaves). F135 Hughes, Rupert. Lovelady No. 99 (Novelette). [n.d.] Ts [carbon], 28 p. Previous title was “The Mannequin Man”. F136 Keck, Fred. Continuity-sketch for the beginning of the German version of All Quiet on the Western Front. [n.d.] Ts, 5 p. F137 Keck, Fred. Continuity-sketch for an ending of The Man I Killed. [n.d.] Ts [carbon], 3 p. 8 F138 Leslie, Edgar. I Like ‘Em Young (Synopsis). [n.d.] Ts, 8 p. F139 Leslie. I Like ‘Em Young (Synopsis). 1934 March 14. Ts, 6 p. Synopsis and remarks written by Cromwell Ormsby. F140 Liggett, Walter. The Grudge Fight (Scenario Outline). [n.d.] Ts, 4 p. With two different endings. F141 Milton, Paul R. and Jerry Ward. Sold Out (Scenario Outline). 1932 (copyright date). Ts, 31 p. F142 Peterson, J. Phil. Gold Turmoil (Synopsis). 1932 Nov 4. Ts, 3 p. Includes a letter from the author. F143 Preston, Jack. August Returns (Scenario Outline). [n.d.] Ts [carbon], 24 p. Adapted from the play The Golden Stairs (1924). Signed by the author. F144 Preston, Jack. Soldiers of Peace (Outline for Screenplay.) [n.d.] Ts [carbon], 24 p. F145 Turner, Helene. A Living Past (Summary). 1932 Nov 4. Ts, 2 p. Summary and comments written by Edward J. Cantor. F146 Vance, Louis Joseph. Dead End Road (Novelette). [n.d.] Ts [carbon], 94 p. Contains an autograph note “To appear in Cosmopolitan.” F147 Vance, Louis Joseph. Dead End Road (Summary). 1932 Nov 4. Ts, 2 p. Summary and comments written by Edward J. Cantor. F148 Warde, Shirley. The Hermit of Broadway (Novelette). [n.d.] Ts [carbon], 26 p. F149 Warde, Shirley. Love is Cruel (Novelette). [n.d.] Ts [carbon], 25 p. F150 Yates, G.W. Silver King (Filming Sequences). [n.d.] Ts, 105 p. F151 Anonymous. Comprised (Picture treatment of the play The Queen at Home). [n.d.] Ts, 6 p. F152 Anonymous. I Can’t Escape (Scenario Outline). [n.d.] Ts [carbon], 39 p. F153 Gabriel Over the White House Promotional Newspaper. [1933?], 8 p. Contains articles about the film and the actors, a synopsis, reviews, and advertisements for promotional materials. F154 Gabriel Over the White House Promotional Newspaper. [1933?] Photocopies, 8 p. Contains articles about the film and the actors, a synopsis, reviews, and advertisements for promotional materials.

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