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Finding Aid for the Bob Thomas Papers, 1914-2004
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Bob Thomas Papers
    Date (inclusive): 1914-2004
    Collection number: 299
    Creator: Thomas, Bob, 1922-
    Extent: 57 boxes (26.5 linear ft.);3 flat boxes (2.0 linear ft.)
    Abstract: Since 1944 Bob Thomas has written thousands of Hollywood syndicated columns for The Associated Press and has authored (or co-authored) at least thirty books relating to the entertainment industry. The collection consists of materials related to his professional career as a writer and includes manuscripts, research and photographs for books by Thomas as well as Associated Press columns, research files, and a small amount of printed ephemera.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Performing Arts Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Performing Arts Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library, Performing Arts Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Use of audio materials may require production of listening copies.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Performing Arts Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Bob Thomas.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Bob Thomas Papers (Collection 299). Performing Arts Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.


    Robert Joseph Thomas was born January 26, 1922 in San Diego, CA. He grew up in Los Angeles where his father, George Thomas, was a publicist who worked for Mary Pickford and a number of movie studios including Warner Bros., MGM, Paramount and Columbia. Thomas attended the University of California, Los Angeles (graduated 1943), where he wrote an entertainment column for the UCLA humor magazine, The Claw, which he edited. He joined The Associated Press in Los Angeles with the hope of becoming a war correspondent; however, he was assigned to a correspondent post in Fresno before being assigned as a Hollywood correspondent in Los Angeles at the age of twenty-two. Prior to his Hollywood post, Thomas signed his news stories Robert J. Thomas, but changed his byline to Bob Thomas with the new assignment. Since 1944, he has written thousands of Hollywood syndicated columns for the Associated Press. At one time his byline appeared in the Associated Press more than any other writer in the new agency's history. He has also written numerous magazine articles about the Hollywood scene.
    Over the course of his career, Thomas has written (or co-written) numerous books. In 1967, Thomas published his first biography King Cohn, and has followed with at least thirty books, both fiction and non-fiction. Two of his books Howard, the Amazing Mr. Hughes and Bud and Lou: the Abbott and Costello Story were made into television movies, The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977) and Bud and Lou (1978). Thomas has written, produced and appeared in five television specials about the Academy Awards. He has made appearances on various television programs including the Johnny Carson Show, The Merv Griffin Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show, and Nightline. Thomas co-produced and narrated Hollywood Stars, a weekly syndicated television show devoted to interviews and film clips.
    On December 1, 1988, Thomas became the first author-reporter to have a star on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame. In 2003, Thomas marked 60 years as a reporter for The Associated Press.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of materials related to the career of writer, Bob Thomas. The collection contains material for twenty-five books authored by Thomas; numerous columns written for The Associated Press; obituary files (Thomas' research files); a small collection of research photographs; and a small amount of printed ephemera. The bulk of the collection is book project files which consist of original typescript, carbon, and/or photocopied drafts of manuscript pages, newspaper and magazine clippings (some authored by Thomas), research files, holograph notes of interviews conducted by Thomas, an occasional note or letter to Thomas, and a small amount of photographic material and audio tapes.
    The Associated Press columns, written between 1975 and 1991, consist of carbon copy drafts, computer print out drafts and/or newspaper clippings about individuals, films, or television programs. The Obituary files (research files) were compiled by Thomas in the course of his research and writing about individuals in the entertainment industry and contain columns (typescript and clippings) written by both Thomas and other writers. The research photographs, collected by Thomas, may have been used as research for book projects or for his work with the Director's Guild of America publication, Action. The small mix of printed ephemera is from events and tributes attended by Thomas during his Hollywood industry career. Original file titles have been maintained throughout the collection except for a small amount of files where titles have been supplied or enhanced by the processor.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    • Series 1: Associated Press Columns
    • Series 2: Book Projects
    • Series 3: Research Files
    • Series 4: Printed Ephemera
    • Series 5: Writings Submitted to Thomas

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Thomas, Bob, 1922-Archives
    Journalists -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources.
    Authors, American -- 20th century -- Archival resources.
    Motion picture industry -- United States

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Motion picture stills
    newspaper columns