William Goldman (August 12, 1931 November 15, 2018) was a famous American novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and Hollywood script doctor.
His novels include The Princess Bride, Marathon Man, and Magic, all three of which were subsequently made into films with screenplays by Goldman himself. His other screenplays include a number of adaptations of novels by other authors, as well as based-on-true stories including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, A Bridge Too Far, and All the President's Men.
Goldman also wrote a number of books on the writing process and the Hollywood business, from the POV of an author, complete with useful advice; these include Adventures in the Screen Trade and Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade. Additionally, in 1968 he wrote The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway, which not only reviewed every show on Broadway of that year, but the patterns that theater was taking, the impact of the Great White Way on New York City itself, and many other such topics. He managed to offhandedly predict what Broadway would turn into in a few years.
Famous also for coining the phrase "Nobody knows anything". His Signature Style includes Self-Deprecation (as a writer, as a Jewish man, as a member of the Hollywood movie machine), humorous asides to the readers, and long and convoluted sentences thanks to stream-of-consciousness writing.
Hollywood gossip attributed the screenplay of Good Will Hunting to an uncredited Goldman, but Goldman insisted in 2003 that it really was Affleck and Damon's script, with Goldman's sole contribution being to advise them to drop an FBI government-spy subplot.
Brother of playwright James Goldman, author of The Lion in Winter.
Works by William Goldman with their own pages include:
- Absolute Power (screenplay)
- All the President's Men (screenplay, which won him the Academy Award)
- A Bridge Too Far (screenplay)
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (screenplay)
- Dreamcatcher (screenplay)
- The General's Daughter (screenplay)
- The Ghost and the Darkness (screenplay)
- The Great Waldo Pepper (screenplay)
- Harper (screenplay)
- Hearts in Atlantis (screenplay)
- The Hot Rock (screenplay)
- Magic (screenplay, adapting his own novel)
- Marathon Man (screenplay, adapting his own novel)
- Maverick (screenplay)
- Memoirs of an Invisible Man (screenplay)
- Misery (screenplay)
- The Princess Bride (novel)
- The Princess Bride (screenplay, adapting his own novel)
- The Stepford Wives (screenplay for the 1975 film)
Other works by William Goldman contain examples of:
- Belated Happy Ending: In Brothers, the sequel to Marathon Man, the protagonist's brother, who died in the original novel, is revealed to have survived.
- I Should Write a Book About This: In the heavily autobiographical novel The Color of Light, the writer protagonist consoles himself with the thought that the unpleasantness he's experiencing will be good material for a novel some day.
- Magic Plastic Surgery: In Brothers, the protagonist's brother is revealed to have had it following his apparent death in the previous novel.
- Most Writers Are Writers: The Color of Light is about this trope. It goes a bit over the top in lampshading it, though.
- One Thing Led to Another: Decorated with numerous lampshades in Boys and Girls Together, where Jenny actually says at one point, "In a book it'd say 'their lips met' and then there'd be a double paragraph break and a line of stars," whereupon — their lips meet, and there's a double paragraph break and a line of stars to imply that the characters had sex.
- Sweater Girl: In Magic, the narrator flashbacks about seeing his love interest in a sweater and being aroused for the first time in his life.
- Sudden Downer Ending: At the end of The Color of Light, the protagonist (Chubb) has decided to accept his relationship with his girlfriend for what it is, only to learn from an offhand remark of hers that the homeless girl Chubb was letting stay in his apartment didn't kill herself by jumping out of the window; rather, his girlfriend probably pushed her. In Brothers, after saving the world, Scylla reunites with his brother, who has been mourning him for years after his assumed death. Then, when he sees a photo of his brother's wife, he recognizes her as the woman he killed earlier that day as part of the mission.