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Biofile Budd Schulberg Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: Renowned novelist, film writer and sports writer. Inducted into International Boxing Hall of Fame.

DOB: March 27, 1914 In: New York, NY

Passed away: 2009 in Quogue, Long Island

Education: Dartmouth

Hobbies/Interests: Go to boxing, seeing it and writing about it. Sort of an avocation. Mexican archaeology, going down to see the Mayan ruins. I’m sort of a frustrated archaeologist. Bird watching. I like watching birds, swans, egrets and fancy plume birds. In fact, I did write one book on swans (Swan Watch in 1975).

Favorite Movies: I’d say The Informer, John Ford, and Stagecoach. And I would say High Noon, La Strada and Citizen Kane.

Musical Tastes: Basically a jazz fan. Pretty eclectic… Louie Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie… it goes on and on up to Wynton Marsalis.

Funny Career Memory: Irwin Shaw, the writer, he and I look somewhat alike. When his book came out – The Young Lions – people thought I was him. And asked me to sign it. I said I wasn’t Irwin Shaw. The first time I said no, I noticed they were kind of embarrassed…they’d made a silly mistake. So then I just signed it as ‘Irwin Shaw.’ ‘Mr. Shaw, I’m a great fan of you…I’d just say thank you [laughs]. There are a lot of Irwin Shaw books signed by me.

First Job: When I was in high school, I was a stringer covering high school sports at the Los Angeles Times (age 16).

Greatest Career Moments: I was in charge of gathering the film evidence for the Trial of Nuremberg (1945). When we showed the atrocity film for the first time, on opening day of the trial of the Nazi war criminals. Watching Herman Goering, the top Nazi, and all the war criminals. Watching their reactions to it. They were all different. Some of them actually hid their eyes. Some turned their chairs around, to not see me. Goering took notes. The other was when I won the Oscar in 1955 (On The Waterfront). It wasn’t necessarily me getting the Oscar. It gave me the opportunity to, in receiving it, to remind them in my speech, that my father (Hollywood producer BP) was out of a job. My father’s picture – Wings – won the first ever Academy Award for Best Picture in 1929. When I won, he was out of a job. It got a gasp out of the audience. It helped him a little but not as much as I had hoped.

Most Painful Moment: It might also be On The Waterfront, in early 1952, when Elie Kazan and I went to Hollywood and every studio turned us down. Felt frustrated to give up movies and go back to writing novels. We got turned down everywhere. (On The Waterfront) later won Best Picture and set a record at the time, for most Oscars (eight).

Favorite Vacation Spot: I’d say down to a place called The Beach in Escondido in Mexico, about 200 miles south of Acapulco. Also, the ruins in Oaxaca.

People Qualities Most Admired: I like to see people who take chances in their life. Who stand up for what they believe in. Even if there’s some risk. Those are the people I admire.

(Note: Budd was a regular ringsider at many of the big boxing shows at Madison Square Garden and Atlantic City in the 1990s and 2000s. It was always a pleasure to have dinner with this fascinating, thoughtful man and his son Benn and pals like LeRoy Neiman in boxing press rooms. I even later mailed him a VHS copy of Jerry Lewis’s film “Visit To A Small Planet” as appreciation for his time doing our interviews.)

Budd Schulberg Hollywood Renegade

About Mark Malinowski

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