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Guide to the William Randolph Fowler Collection, 1891-2001
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Biographical Information:
  • Access Terms
  • Administrative Information
  • Arrangement of Materials:
  • Scope and Contents

  • Overview of the Collection

    Collection Title: William Randolph Fowler Collection
    Dates: 1891-2001
    Identification: URB/WRF
    Creator: Fowler, Will, 1922-
    Physical Description: 31.61 linear feet
    Alternate Extent Statement: 97.8 GB of Digital Material
    Language of Materials: English
    Repository: Urban Archives
    Abstract: The William (Will) Randolph Fowler Collection highlights the literary works of Will and his father Gene Fowler. Gene is best known as a New York newspaperman and screen writer for 20 th Century Fox. Will Fowler is known for his many endeavors, including musician, newspaperman, publicist, and author. The collection contains materials written by both Fowlers, including articles as they appeared when published, correspondence, drafts, galley proofs, typescripts, and musical scores as well as photographs and audio recordings.
    Other Information:
    This collection was processed with generous support from the Tom W. Reilly estate.

    Biographical Information:

    William Randolph Fowler (1922-2004) was born in New York in 1922. He and his family moved to Southern California in 1935. Fowler attended Beverly Hills High School, graduating in 1940.
    Throughout his life, Fowler engaged in a number of occupations. He became a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in 1939 after writing the hit song He’s so Married with Jimmie Dodd. He worked as an actor and newspaper reporter in addition to later work as publicist, playwright, novelist, and composer. Fowler joined the staff of the Los Angeles Examiner in 1944. As a newspaper man, he is remembered for his claim of being first on the scene of the unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short, the "Black Dahlia." He also followed the cases of executed killer Louise Peete, and Beulah Louise Overell and her lover George "Bud" Gollum. Fowler left the Examiner in 1947, but returned to the newspaper business in 1949 when he joined the Los Angeles Herald & Express staff under city editor Agness Underwood.
    After his father's death in 1960, Fowler resigned from his position as News Director at local television station KTTV to write Gene Fowler’s biography, The Young Man From Denver (1962). Other literary works by Fowler include The Second Handshake (1980), The Reporters (1991), Bud and Louise (undated manuscript), and Odyssey of a Spring Lamb (undated manuscript).
    Fowler married his high school girlfriend, Beverly Blanchard, and the two had four children, Will Jr., Michael, Claudia, and Jenny. Fowler died in April 2004 after a long bout with cancer.

    Access Terms

    This collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

    Genre/Form of Material:

    Audio recordings
    Paper records
    Photographic material
    Video recordings


    Journalists -- California -- Los Angeles

    Topical Term:

    Journalism -- California -- Los Angeles

    Administrative Information

    Processing Information:

    April Feldman, 2013

    Conditions Governing Use:

    Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection has not been transferred to California State University, Northridge. Copyright status for other materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

    Conditions Governing Access:

    The collection is open for research use.

    Preferred Citation:

    For information about citing items in this collection consult the appropriate style manual, or see the Citing Archival Materials  guide.

    Arrangement of Materials:

    Series I: William Randolph Fowler Files, 1891-2001
        Subseries A: Articles by William Randolph Fowler, 1946-1989
        Subseries B: Books by William Randolph Fowler, 1946-2001
        Subseries C: Newspaper Coverage by William Randolph Fowler, 1945-1952
        Subseries D: Plays and Screen Scripts, 1938-2000
        Subseries E: Office Files, 1891-2000
        Subseries F: Music and Musical Scores, 1940-1986
    Series II: Gene Fowler Files, 1915-1963
        Subseries A: Literary Works by Gene Fowler, 1922-1961
        Subseries B: Office Files, 1915-1963
    Series III: William Randolph Fowler Research Files, 1909-1997

    Scope and Contents

    The William Randolph Fowler Collection documents the career of author and composer Will Fowler. The collection also contains manuscript drafts and office files produced by Will's father, Gene Fowler, a biographer and newspaperman. Included in the papers are drafts, corrected typescripts, galley proofs, published manuscripts, and transcripts and notes for the articles, books, plays, screen scripts and short stories written by both men. The collection also includes musical scores and photographs, and has been divided into three series: William Randolph Fowler Files (1891-2001), Gene Fowler Files (1915-1963), and William Randolph Fowler Research Files (1909-1997).
    Series I, William Randolph Fowler Files, documents the writings of Will Fowler, and includes correspondence as well as manuscripts for numerous works, including articles, books, and musical scores. Materials are separated into six subseries: Subseries A, Articles of William Randolph Fowler (1946-1989), includes materials published in magazines, newspapers, and other publications are filed alphabetically by article title. Subseries B, Books by William Randolph Fowler (1946-2001) consists of notes, drafts, galley proofs, and other iterations of manuscripts including photographs, and is filed alphabetically by title. Subseries C, Newspaper Coverage by William Randolph Fowler (1945-1952), consists of newspaper clippings documenting some of the news stories Fowler covered as a reporter for Hearst papers in Los Angeles, and is filed chronologically. Subseries D, Plays and Screen Scripts, (1938-2000) consists of script drafts filed alphabetically by title. Subseries E, Office Files (1891-2000), represents Fowler's personal and professional dealings, reflecting the association of the Fowler family with figures such as Ben Hecht and H. Allen Smith, as well as his business relationship with author Robert Slatzer. The subseries consists of contracts, correspondence, Fowler family genealogical information including family photographs, legal files, scrapbooks, and audio and video recordings. Non-manuscript material is arranged by format. This series is filed alphabetically. Subseries F, Music and Musical Scores (1940-1986), includes scores authored by Fowler, some of which are accompanied by audio recordings. Non-manuscript material is arranged by format. The series is filed alphabetically by title.
    Series II, Gene Fowler Files, documents work by Gene Fowler. This series is divided into two subseries. Subseries A, Literary Works by Gene Fowler (1922-1961), includes manuscript drafts for such titles as Illusions in Java (1939), Lady Scatterly's Lovers (1973) and Queen Christina (ca. 1933), and a taped recording of John Barrymore reading "The Cowboys Lament" written by Gene Fowler. Also included are transcripts from an in-depth interview with entertainer Red Skelton and his wife conducted in early 1951. Subseries B, Office Files (1915-1963), documents some of Gene Fowler's professional and personal relationships, and consists primarily of correspondence that is filed alphabetically.
    Series III, William Randolph Fowler Research Files, contains research files for Will Fowler’s writing projects. These files consist of correspondence, clippings, and notes and include significant material regarding his father Gene as well as recorded interviews and conversations conducted by or with Will Fowler for the writing of his book The Reporters with Agnes Bane, Jim Murray, Gus Newman, and Agness Underwood, among others. Of particular interest are the interviews for the investigation of the "Black Dahlia Murder Case" with Edward and Alice Miller. There are also extensive audio-recordings of interviews and discussions between Will Fowler and Robert F. Slatzer, Frank Capell, Harlan V. Baker, Bob Yeager, doctors Gulligsrud, Wisley, and Choi, and others during the investigation and writing of the biography The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe. Please note that some of the language and/or content may be inappropriate or offensive to some patronsand that recordings are of varying quality. Non-manuscript material is arranged by format. The series is filed alphabetically.