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John Gay Papers
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Collection Overview
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The John Gay Papers, 1949-2013, consist of Gay’s scripts, outlines, notes and correspondence created during his five-decade career as a screen and television writer and playwright. The collection features Gay’s most famous works such as Around the World in 80 Days, Fatal Vision, Separate Tables, and Run Silent, Run Deep and Diversions and Delights. There are also drafts and correspondence for many unrealized projects.
John Gay was born on April 1, 1924 in Whittier, California and grew up in Los Angeles with an interest in theater and acting. He worked a stint as a clerk at the U.S. Coast Guard office during WWII, which brought him to New York, where he graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He spent several summers in stock at the Boothbay Playhouse in Maine, where he met his wife Barbara (Bobbie) Meyer, also an aspiring actress. They married in 1949 and soon after were hired by TV station WOR in New York to write and perform in a daily domestic show titled Apartment 3C. This morphed into a weekly mystery series called Mr. and Mrs. Mystery, which aired until 1952. He began writing plays and scripts for anthology TV series and would continue for five decades as a screenwriter. He was hired by Burt Lancaster to adapt the novel Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), his first feature film, which brought his family to Los Angeles permanently. Gay’s career resulted in 14 feature films, 39 TV movies, 5 episodes of live TV and various plays. Much of his writings were based on books and/or real people and true events. He was nominated for an Oscar with co-writer Terrence Rattigan for Separate Tables (1958) and was nominated for 2 WGA Awards, 1 Emmy, 1 Cable ACE and 3 Edgar Allen Poe Awards during his career. Gay was also awarded three honorary awards by the Writers Guild: the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement (1984), the Morgan Cox Award for service to the Guild (1992), and the Edmund H. North Founders Award for his leadership and service (2003). Gay’s play Diversions and Delights [Well Chosen Enemies], a one man show based on the life of Oscar Wilde, starred Vincent Price and premiered in San Francisco before traveling across the United States and Australia during the 1970s. He also wrote the plays Christophe and Summer Voices. Gay was a longtime member of the Writers Guild of America. He was a Board Member from 1971-1975 and again from 1977-1979, then served as the WGA’s Vice President from 1985-1987. He helped lead negotiations during looming writer’s strikes. He was also a board member of the Writers Guild Foundation from 1987 to 2001.Beginning in the early 1960s, Gay served on more than two dozen guild committees, including the screen grievance committee (1962-73), TV-Film negotiating (1966), membership and finance (1967-68, 1979-81), Working Rule #8 disciplinary (1972-75), screen credits (1973-2002), strike planning (1980-81), and many others. He also was an officer of the guild's pension plan and its health fund, and held several positions, including president and vice president, of the guild's credit union. Gay published the autobiography Any Way I Can: 50 Years in Show Business in 2008, co-written with his daughter Jennifer Gay Summers. He died on February 4, 2017, in Santa Monica, California at age 92, survived by his children Lawrence, Jennifer, and Elizabeth.
16.75 linear feet
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