Calder Willingham

Active - 1957 - 1991  |   Born - Dec 22, 1922   |   Died - Feb 19, 1995   |   Genres - Comedy Drama, Drama, Western, War, Historical Film

Share on

Biography by Sandra Brennan

Best-selling author and highly respected screenwriter Calder Willingham was behind several important films of the '60s and '70s. His best-known hits include The Graduate (1967), co-written with Buck Henry, Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory (1957), and Little Big Man (1970). Willingham was born and raised in the American South, the setting of many of his subsequent novels. After receiving his education from the Citadel and the University of Virginia, Willingham headed north to New York to launch his writing career. The year was 1943, and the talented Willingham found himself running with a circle of similarly talented writers, including Gore Vidal, Truman Capote and Norman Mailer. As an author, Willingham made an auspicious debut in 1947 with his novel End as a Man. A graphic and sometimes shocking exposé of life in a military college, it generated considerable controversy and at one time obscenity charges were launched against the publisher, but these were later dropped. In 1953, he adapted his first novel into a successful off-Broadway play and in 1957 he adapted it into a feature film, called The Strange One,

starring Ben Gazzara and other members of the stage version. That year, Willingham collaborated with director David Lean on the script of Bridge on the River Kwai; an argument between Willingham and producer Sam Spiegel, however, resulted in Willingham's name being removed from the credits, something the author looked back upon with no rancor. Instead, he later claimed that he was glad to have had the opportunity to work on the film. In 1991, he adapted his 1972 novel Rambling Rose into a film starring Laura Dern, Robert Duval and John Heard.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography