McDowall, Roddy (1928-1998)
Scope:
The Roddy McDowall collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, printed material, photographs, financial and legal material, audio recordings, personal memorabilia, and film reels. This large collection provides a comprehensive documentation of McDowall’s long career on stage and screen, as well as some insight into his family history and his private life.

Correspondence in the collection consists of personal letters and professional letters. The personal letters include several items from the McDowall family, including numerous greeting cards received by Thomas McDowall (Roddy’s father), dated 1921 to 1970; over 250 letters from Thomas McDowall to his wife, dated 1940 to 1944; several letters from Virginia McDowall (Roddy’s sister) to her parents, from the 1940s; and about 300 other family letters, primarily between Thomas McDowall and his wife. These include letters from Farley Granger and J. Carrol Naish. Roddy’s own personal letters date from the 1950s to the 1990s, and include correspondence from Van Johnson, Libby Holman, Noel Coward, Richard Avedon, Dirk Bogarde, Art Carney, Tammy Grimes, Jack Paar, Mike Todd & Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison, Judy Garland, George Peppard, Myrna Loy, Vivien Leigh, Lauren (Betty) Bacall, Dean Stockwell, Robert Wagner, Joshua Logan, Piper Laurie, Robert Goulet, Eli Wallach, Moss Hart, Paul Newman, Lee Remick, Uta Hagen, Darryl F. Zanuck, Alan Jay Lerner, Montgomery Clift, Hermione Baddeley, Tennessee Williams, Ed Sullivan, Joseph Mankiewicz, David Niven, Lee Strasberg, Dennis Hopper, Jane Fonda, Shirley McLaine, Sal Mineo, Alan J. Pakula, Lord Snowdon, Henry Fonda, Swoozie Kurtz, Laurence Olivier, Lucille Ball, Robert Morley, Nora Kaye, Stephen Sondheim, Peter Brook, Liza Minnelli, Mia Farrow, Garson Kanin, Shirley Bassey, Edward G. Robinson, Leslie Caron, Ruth Gordon, Rock Hudson, and Truman Capote. There is a group of letters, cards and telegrams from Montgomery Clift (1952-1955) with clippings, photos, and notes by McDowall; as well as numerous Christmas cards (1944-1990s) and pieces of fan mail sent to McDowall.

The professional letters date from 1952 to the mid-1990s. There are several letters regarding McDowall’s Double Exposure photo books (including letters from photographed subjects, essay contributors, and publishers); letters regarding the Arthur discoteque co-owned by McDowall in the 1960s; and other subjects. Notable correspondents include Lillian Hellman, Bob Fosse, Hume Cronyn, Shelley Winters, Ralph Bellamy, Mary Martin, William Dozier, Ed Sullivan, Virginia McDowall (sister), Joseph Papp, Hugh Hefner, Donald Pleasance, Bob Hope, George Roy Hill, Johnny Carson Herbert Swope, Harold Prince, Den Gazzara, Richard Zanuck, Gore Vidal, Peter Falk, George Sidney, Otto Preminger, Laurence Olivier, Salka Viertel, Mike Nichols, Joan Crawford, Victor Borge, Kenneth Tynan, Richard Attenborough, Danny Thomas, Tony Randall, James Garner, Carl Reiner, and John Schlesinger. In addition, many of the screenplays, teleplays, and stage plays that McDowall performed in (and some he only considered) are accompanied by letters regarding the production and many letters from other cast members. The correspondence for Compulsion includes letters from June Allyson, Anne Bancroft, Richard Barthelmess, Theodore Bikel, Noel Coward, William Dozier, Judy Garland, Uta Hagen, Pat Hingle, Meyer Levin, Jack Lord, Thelma Ritter, George Sidney, Michael Todd, Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, and Dick York. The correspondence for Good as Gold includes letters from Rex Harrison, Eli Wallach, and Arthur Laurents. The correspondence for Handful of Fire includes letters from Elizabeth Taylor, Noel Coward, Julie Harris, Ricardo Montalban, John Osborne, and Cyril Richard. The correspondence for The Fighting Cock includes letters from Richard Avedon, Tammy Grimes, Rex Harrison, Eartha Kitt, Moss Hart, Howard Keel, Ira Levin, and Cyril Richard.  The correspondence for The Astrakhan Coat includes letters from Natalie Wood, Rosalind Russell, Tuesday Weld, Artie Shaw, Otto Preminger, Paula Prentiss, Anthony Perkins, Myrna Loy, Piper Laurie, Danny Kaye, John Gielgud, Henry Fonda, Noel Coward, Richard Benjamin, Lauren Bacall, and Alan Alda.

Manuscripts in the collection primarily consist of scripts for films, television programs, and stage plays that McDowall appeared in. Some titles are present in multiple drafts; some drafts contain McDowall’s handwritten notes. Screenplays include How Green Was My Valley (1942); Against the House (1954); The Subterraneans (1960); Midnight Lace (1960); Cleopatra (1963); The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965); The Longest Day (pages for RM’s part only, 1962); Shock Treatment (1963); That Darn Cat (1964); The Loved One (1964); Bullwhip Griffin (1965); Inside Daisy Clover (1965); Lord Love a Duck (1965); The Third Day (1964); The Cool Ones (1966); The Curse of the Golem (1966); The Defector (1966); Hello, Down There (1967); Planet of the Apes (1967); Five Card Stud (1967); Midas Run (1968); Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1970); Cult of the Damned (1970); Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1970); Corky (1970); The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1971); Pretty Maids All in a Row (1972); Tam Lin (1972); The Poseidon Adventure (1972); Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972); Arnold (1973); The Legend of Hell House (1973); Funny Lady (1974); and Class of 1984 (1982).

Teleplays include the Night Gallery program, Combat!, Ben Casey, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Batman, The Andy Williams Show, The Danny Kaye Show, Ironside, Columbo, Barnaby Jones, The Carol Burnett Show, McCloud, Mission: Impossible, Planet of the Apes, Police Woman, movies of the week, variety and quiz shows, and others.

The teleplays date from the 1950s to the 1970s. Many scripts include photographs, reviews, and production pages; some include correspondence. Stage plays in the collection include Young Woodley, The Youngest, Remains To Be Seen, Misalliance, Escapade, The Homeward Look, The Doctor’s Dilemma, Bell, Book and Candle, Julius Caesar, The Tempest, Aboard the Bandwagon, No Time For Sergeants, The Diary of a Scoundrel, Compulsion (includes a summons from playwright Meyer Levin against McDowall and co-star Dean Stockwell), Good as Gold (includes correspondence; see above), The First Born, Handful of Fire (includes correspondence; see above); Look After Lulu, The Fighting Cock (includes correspondence; see above); Meet Me in St. Louis; and The Astrakahan Coat (includes correspondence; see above).

In addition, there are over 50 scripts for television narrations and radio dramas read McDowall. The radio productions date mostly from the 1940s and 1950s. The collection also includes six scripts that once belonged to Montgomery Clift.
Other manuscripts in the collection include original material for McDowall’s books Double Exposure (Delacorte Press, 1966), Double Exposure Take II (William Morrow and Co., 1989), and Double Exposure Take III (William Morrow and Co., 1992). This material includes drafts of the essays in the books, written by various show-business figures (some handwritten, many signed); and organizational and research material used in the books.

Manuscripts by McDowall include drafts of several speeches given by him; drafts of articles by him, including a piece on Montgomery Clift and a short memoir of his experiences in the British film industry; and other items. The collection also includes a draft of Elizabeth Taylor’s autobiography, Elizabeth Taylor (Harper and Row, 1965).

Printed material in the collection includes numerous magazines, including many featuring photographs taken by McDowall. There are hundreds of issues of the Hollywood Reporter, as well as issues of Time, Playbill, People, Newsweek, Life, Colliers, American Heritage. and many others. Also present are dozens of posters for McDowall’s films and plays, dating mainly from the 1940s through the 1960s.

McDowall’s personal collection of postcards is present, with over 2,000 pieces from the early 1900s to the 1940s; and McDowall’s sheet music is also part of his papers, consisting of over 300 items, some with handwritten notes, dating from the 1870s to the 1940s (mostly popular songs with some classical pieces).

Photographs in the collection include many prints of images taken by McDowall himself. These include about 100 photos of the 1955 Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut (including images of Christopher Plummer, Jack Palance, Tammy Grimes and others); various actresses, including Jane Powell, Myrna Loy, Grace Cooper, Lauren Bacall, Carol Lawrence, Leslie Caron, Susan Strasberg, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Geraldine Page, and Elizabeth Taylor (including Taylor applying eye makeup on the set of the film Cleopatra in 1962); eight prints of Lady Santha Rama Rau; a photo of Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow, which they used as their wedding picture; and various other images as printed in Life magazine (including Mae West, Elizabeth Taylor, and Michael Dunn; these are only in printed form, not present as photographic prints or negatives). Other photographs in the collection include hundreds of images of McDowall; these consist of publicity portraits as well as McDowall attending events, performing on stage, and mingling with various actors and actresses (including John Gielgud, Myrna Loy, Cedric Hardwicke, Rosalind Russell, Jack Lemmon, Richard Burton, and Judy Garland). These latter images date from the 1950s to the 1990s, and include some color prints and snapshots. The collection also contains many publicity photographs from films featuring McDowall, including How Green Was My Valley, My Friend Flicka, Keys of the Kingdom, Jungle Marines, Kidnapped, Funny Girl, Cleopatra, The Legend of Hell House, and The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean; there are also hundreds of still photos from films in which McDowall did not appear. Finally, there is McDowall’s personal collection of photos of various actors and actresses, dating from the 1920s to the 1950s.

Financial and legal material in the collection primarily consists of release forms for the three Double Exposure volumes. These forms are signed by all participants who agreed to have their likeness and/or essays printed in the books. Also, there are items regarding the Arthur discotheque, dating from 1965.

Audio recordings in the collection are extensive. There are hundreds of wire recordings personally made by McDowall, including interviews by McDowall of Al Jolson, Barbara Hale, Vic Damone, and other performers and entertainment figures. Also present are many wire recordings radio broadcasts, including the coronation of King George VI (1937), the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (1953), opera performances, and various radio entertainments from the 1930s and 1940s.

McDowall’s large personal collection of phonograph records includes hundreds of popular songs, radio performances (some featuring McDowall) and classical music.
Personal memorabilia in the collection consists of a wide variety of items accumulated by McDowall throughout his lifetime. Many of these are souvenirs from films, plays, and television productions; others are awards or gifts presented to McDowall by friends, fans, and colleagues. Additional material includes posters, stamps, engravings, artwork, plaques, textiles, and other items.

Film reels in the collection primarily consist of McDowall’s large personal collection of 16mm home movies, shot by McDowall and mostly dating from the 1960s. They include footage from New York, London, Paris, Munich, Malibu, and elsewhere. Also present is McDowall’s own collection of films, including prints of over 80 feature films (mostly in 16mm format). Especially notable are fragments of unfinished films starring Errol Flynn, as well as some of Flynn’s home movies; these are primarily in 35mm format.

Notable Figures
1. McDowell, Roddy
Associated Subjects
1. Theatre and Film Subject Guide
2. Radio Subject Guide
3. LGBT Subject Guide
4. Television Subject Guide
5. Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Subject Guide
6. Photography Subject Guide