Facts about William Goldman

William Goldman died at 87 years old
Born: August 12, 1931
Birthplace: Chicago,
Best known as: The writer of The Princess Bride and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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William Goldman Biography

William Goldman was the prolific author and screenwriter whose most famous work may now be the 1987 movie The Princess Bride, based on his 1973 novel of the same name.

William Goldman burst onto the Hollywood scene when he sold his original screenplay for the neo-western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for a then-record $400,000. The 1969 film starred Robert Redford and Paul Newman, was a huge hit, and won Goldman his first Academy Award for screenwriting. (He won a second for the 1975 Watergate film All the President’s Men.) Goldman went on to have a stellar screenwriting career, penning scripts including the sci-fi creeper The Stepford Wives (1975), the thriller Marathon Man (1976, based on his 1974 novel, with Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman), the World War II epic A Bridge Too Far (1978), Misery (1990, based on a novel by Stephen King) and Chaplin (1992, with Robert Downey, Jr. as Charlie Chaplin).

The Princess Bride, a smart and gentle-hearted fairy tale comedy of true love and derring-do, was a modest hit as a novel in 1973. The movie version, starring Carey Elwes and Robin Wright, has become an enduring popular favorite, with fans quoting lines like “Inconceivable!” and “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” As late as 2009, The Guardian called Goldman “the world’s greatest and most famous living screenwriter.”

William Goldman’s many novels include The Temple of Gold (1957), Boys and Girls Together (1964), Magic (1976 — he also wrote the screenplay for the 1978 movie) and The Color of Light (1984). He also wrote the screenwriting memoirs Adventures in the Screen Trade (1983) and Which Lie Did I Tell? (2000). The former book is the source of Goldman’s famous quote about the mysteries of success in Hollywood: “Nobody knows anything.”


Extra credit

William Goldman was married to model Ilene Jones from 1961 until their divorce in 1991. They had two daughters: Jenny and Susanna… William Goldman graduated from Oberlin College in 1952. He then earned a master’s degree in English from Columbia University in 1956… His brother, James Goldman, was also a screenwriter and also won an Academy Award, for his screenplay for the 19xx film The Lion in Winter.


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