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Lewis Meltzer Collection
WGF-MS-055  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The Lewis Meltzer Collection, 1938-1967, contains script materials for films, plays, and television programs written by Lewis Meltzer, as well as correspondence related to his career; agency and employment contracts; song lyrics written by Meltzer; stories and other writings; and a small amount of production material related to films written by Meltzer, including Golden Boy, Desert Legion, The Man with the Golden Arm, and The Beat Generation.
Background
Lewis Meltzer was a playwright and screenwriter who first came to Hollywood in 1938. Born in New York City on January 28, 1911, Meltzer was the son of Isidor Meltzer, a comedian in the Yiddish theater. Meltzer’s brothers Murray (who died in 1938) and Sidney, who adopted the stage name Sid Melton, followed in their father’s footsteps and became actors. But Lewis was drawn to the written word. He earned a BA in English Literature at New York University and went on to study playwriting in New York. His play Yankee Fable was produced by Cheryl Crawford in 1938 but closed after a short run in Boston. That same year Meltzer and Daniel Taradash, another young writer in his playwriting course, were hired by Rouben Mamoulian to come to Hollywood to work on the screenplay for Golden Boy, which was Meltzer’s first screen credit. After starting his career at Columbia, Meltzer went on to work at various studios as well as with independent production companies. His filmography includes titles from a wide range of genres, including The Tuttles of Tahiti, Comanche Territory, Desert Legion, Autumn Leaves, High School Confidential, The Beat Generation and the remake of The Jazz Singer, starring Danny Thomas. In 1955, Meltzer wrote the first script for The Man With the Golden Arm, but only received credit following a Guild arbitration. The case became notable when Walter Newman (who shared credit with Meltzer) unsuccessfully sued to have the Guild’s decision overturned. In the 1950s and 1960s, Meltzer also worked in television, writing episodes of Cheyenne, The Rifleman, and Naked City. He also wrote song lyrics for several of his films, and continued to write for the theater, as well as for movies and television, until his retirement. A longtime member of the Writers Guild of America, Lewis Meltzer died in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on February 23, 1995 at the age of 84. He was survived by his second wife, Diane, and four children: Martha, Sarah, Nathaniel, and Joshua.
Extent
1.25 linear feet
Restrictions
The responsibility to secure copyright and publication permission rests with the researcher.
Availability
Available by appointment only.