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Finding Aid for the Mart Crowley Papers 1940-2007
318  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Mart Crowley Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1940-2007
    Collection number: 318
    Creator: Crowley, Mart
    Extent: 109 boxes (45.19 linear feet)
    Repository: 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

    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.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Mart Crowley Papers, 318, Performing Arts Special Collections , University of California, Los Angeles.

    Biography

    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 dull.
    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 performances.
    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 nine.
    "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 ft.)
    • 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 ft.)
    • Series 5. Newspaper clippings, ca. 1940-2006. 3 boxes (1.25 linear ft.)
    • Series 6. Published Materials, ca. 1968-2005. 4 boxes (1.67 linear ft.)
    • Series 7. Legal and Financial documents, ca. 1955-2004. 3 boxes (1.25 linear ft.)
    • Series 8. Audio, Video, Computer Discs, 1970-2002. 6 boxes (2.5 linear ft.)
    • Series 9. Artwork and Awards, 1962-1980. 1 box (.42 linear ft.)
    • Series 10. Photographs, ca. 1030s-2005. 5 boxes (2.0 linear ft.)