Scope and Content
Title: Mart Crowley Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1940-2007
Collection number: 318
109 boxes (45.19 linear feet)
University of California, Los Angeles. Library.
Performing Arts Special Collections
Los Angeles, California 90095-1490
Abstract: The Mart Crowley Papers consist of scripts for stage,
television, and film; correspondence; research material; newspaper clippings;
photographs; programs' magazines and journals; advertisements; gallery and
theatre listings; notes; notebooks; bills and receipts; commercial and
non-commercial audio and video recordings; artwork; and awards.
Physical location: Collection is stored off-site at SRLF.
Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA
Performing Arts Special Collections for paging information.
Language of Material: Collection materials in English
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.
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
[Identification of item], Mart Crowley Papers, 318, Performing Arts Special
Collections , University of California, Los Angeles.
Edward Martino Crowley was born on August 12, 1935 in Vicksburg, Mississippi,
to Edward Joseph Crowley and Pauline Husbands Crowley. In 1953 he graduated from
St. Aloysius School where he attended both grammar and high school, left
Vicksburg and enrolled at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
He was a member of the drama department in the School of Speech and Drama.
After graduation from The Catholic University in 1957 Crowley moved to New
York where he worked as a production assistant on various movies, including the
1960 adaptation of John O'Hara's 1935 novel "Butterfield 8," starring Elizabeth
Taylor. A short time after the production of "Butterfield 8" had begun, Crowley
encountered the director Elia Kazan on the streets of New York. He had first met
Kazan in 1956 in Mississippi where Kazan was filming "Baby Doll." Kazan was in
New York preparing to begin shooting "Splendor in the Grass," starring Natalie
Wood and Warren Beatty and offered Crowley a job on the film. Crowley left
"Butterfield 8" and became the only production assistant on "Splendor in the
Grass." Crowley also began a close friendship with Wood.
Upon completion of "Splendor in the Grass," Wood invited Crowley to come with
her to Los Angeles and offered him a job as her personal assistant so that he
could concentrate on his writing. Wood also helped Crowley obtain an agent with
the William Morris Agency. He retained the position of Woods' assistant from
1960-1962. Crowley's first screenplay for 20th Century-Fox was adapted from the
novel "Cassandra at the Wedding" by Dorothy Baker. Shortly after filming began,
there were complications on the set, and the movie was never completed. Several
other projects were considered, but none came to fruition.
In the summer of 1967, inspired by The New York Times article by Stanley
Kauffmann entitled "Homosexual Drama and Its Disguises," Crowley began writing
the script for "The Boys in the Band," which he completed in 5 weeks.
Unfortunately, Crowley's agent in New York was "embarrassed" and declared that
she could not send the script out with her name on it. Richard Barr decided to
produce the piece at a playwright's workshop in the West Village and Robert
Moore was chosen as the director. The play was moved to Theatre Four, where it
remained for almost three years. Taking place in an apartment in New York's posh
Upper East Side, the action concerns nine acquaintances who converge for the
birthday of one of their friends. The group includes Michael, a lapsed Roman
Catholic alcoholic who is undergoing psychoanalysis; Donald, a conflicted friend
who has moved far from the city to spurn the homosexual lifestyle; Harold, who
is turning thirty and is morose about losing his youthful looks; Bernard, an
African American who still pines for the wealthy white boy of the house where
his mother was a maid; Emory, who revels in his homosexuality by acting
flamboyant and girlish; and Larry and Hank, a couple that lives together despite
the fact that they do not agree on the issue of monogamy. Joining them are a
male prostitute who has been hired as a ''present'' for Harold's birthday and
Alan, an old college friend of Michael's, who claims to be straight but becomes
a little too emotional when his manhood is threatened and is strangely reluctant
to leave each time he says he is going.
The play was lauded as one of the best of the season, and in 1969, Crowley
was awarded the first Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award. Although the play
achieved artistic and commercial success quickly, after the Stonewall Riots it
has been referred to as a "period piece." There were many critics inside the gay
community that decried the production as playing into the grotesque stereotypes
of homosexual men as self-loathing and preening; in a short period of time
audiences and critics had viewed the play as a lively drama based on the
experiences of specific individuals to a sociological study of gay male life. In
1970, the original members of the theatre production returned to their roles for
the film version. The feature length film was directed by William Friedkin and
based on the screenplay by Crowley. The stage production has been performed in
numerous cities around the world.
Crowley's next play, "Remote Asylum" premiered at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los
Angeles on December 1, 1970. The play is based on observations Crowley made of
friends and acquaintances in Hollywood circles during the time he worked as
Natalie Woods' personal secretary. Set in a contemporary mansion, the play
dramatizes the lives of five very unlikeable characters. Because of the success
of "The Boy in the Band," expectations for the opening of "Remote Asylum" were
high; unfortunately, the play was considered by critics as unfinished and
The aftermath of criticism of "Remote Asylum" made it very difficult for
Crowley to write, so he left to spend three months in Paris, and then to the
south of France, where he attempted to recharge himself. During this time,
Crowley contemplated writing an autobiographical play based on his family, but
found it difficult to do so and returned to the United States and spent the next
two years in New York.
In 1973, Crowley spent three months in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he wrote
"A Breeze From the Gulf," a fictionalized autobiography of his life with his
parents in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The two act play has similarities to
Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie," in that it uses "memory" as a
thematic device. The three main characters consist of, Michael, the son, aged
fifteen when the play opens; Teddy, the father, businessman, and alcoholic; and
Loraine, the controlling and drug addicted mother. Although the play received
mixed and somewhat ambivalent reviews, it was praised for its honesty and strong
Crowley spent another year in New York before taking a job with Columbia
Pictures, writing a script titled "Jane," which was to star Faye Dunaway.
Although the project allowed Crowley to spend six months in London, the picture
was never made. In 1979 Crowley returned to Paris where he was visited by
Natalie Wood and her husband, the actor Robert Wagner. Wagner persuaded Crowley
to return to Los Angeles to assist in writing on his new production "Hart to
Hart." He eventually took over as sole producer on the program which received
critical acclaim over a five year, ninety episode run.
After "Hart to Hart," Crowley decided to return to play writing. Originally
entitled "Avec Schmaltz," his next play had its staged reading in the New Play
Series at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Massachusetts in
1984 under the title "The Spirit of It All." The play dramatizes the life of a
divorced mother of two who is trying to rebuild her life with a new man,
although her ex-husband in not entirely out of the picture. The play was
optioned by Warner Bros. for seven months under the title "Dance a Little
Closer," but remained unproduced.
In 1986 Crowley wrote the television movie adaptation of James Kirkwood,
Jr.'s 1960 novel, "There Must Be a Pony," starring Robert Wagner and Elizabeth
Taylor. Crowley continued writing for television through the early 1990s and
returned to the stage once again with the production "For Reasons That Remain
Unclear," which premiered at the Olney Theatre in Olney, Maryland in the fall of
1993. "For Reasons That Remain Unclear" is a full length, one-act play that
takes place in Rome where Patrick, a screenwriter, encounters and eventually
confronts Conrad, a Catholic priest who had sexually molested him at the age of
"The Boys in The Band" had it's Broadway revival in 1996 at the WPA Theatre
in New York. Around this time, Crowley decided that he wanted to revisit the
lives of the original characters from "Boys." The sequel, "The Men from the
Boys," had its first staged reading in October 1999 at the Bat Street Theatre in
Sag Harbor, New York.
Scope and Content
The writer Mart Crowley is most notable for the theatrical production "The
Boys in the Band," the first time in mainstream theatre that the issue of
homosexuality was addressed. Originally produced in 1968, a film version
starring the original stage cast was produced in 1970, under the direction of
William Freidkin. Crowley has also written for television and acted as a
producer on the Columbia Pictures Television series "Hart to Hart," starring his
long-time friend, the actor Robert Wagner.
Crowley's stage credits also include "Remote Asylum," "For Reasons That
Remain Unclear," "The Spirit of It All," and "A Breeze From the Gulf." His
television credits include an adaptation of Barbara Taylor Bradford's
"Remember," the aforementioned series "Hart to Hart," and "There Must Be a
Pony," a mini-series starring Robert Wagner and Elizabeth Taylor.
The collection consists of personal and professional correspondence;
screenplays; teleplays; photographs; artwork; notes and cards; legal documents;
personal documents; magazines and journals; audio and video recordings; notes
and research material; and newspaper and magazines clippings.
The collection is organized into the following series:
- Series 1. Scripts, 1962-2006. 28 boxes (11.6 linear ft.)
- Series 2. Published and Produced Works, 1968-2005. 34 boxes (14.17 linear
- Series 3. Correspondence, 1950-2007. 20 boxes (8.33 linear ft.)
- Series 4. Notes and Research Articles, ca. 1950-2006. 5 boxes (2.0 linear
- Series 5. Newspaper clippings, ca. 1940-2006. 3 boxes (1.25 linear
- Series 6. Published Materials, ca. 1968-2005. 4 boxes (1.67 linear
- Series 7. Legal and Financial documents, ca. 1955-2004. 3 boxes (1.25
- Series 8. Audio, Video, Computer Discs, 1970-2002. 6 boxes (2.5 linear
- Series 9. Artwork and Awards, 1962-1980. 1 box (.42 linear ft.)
- Series 10. Photographs, ca. 1030s-2005. 5 boxes (2.0 linear ft.)