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Robert Wise papers

Identifier: 2295

Scope and Contents

The Robert Wise papers, 1904-2001 (bulk 1954-1979), consist of film files, awards and ephemera, correspondence, personal papers and publications, and bound scripts created and collected by Wise during his life and career as a motion picture producer and director. The majority of the collection comprises film files of twenty-six projects (both completed as well as proposed) featuring numerous drafts, treatments, and sections of scripts, as well as production information, budgets, correspondence and memos, call sheets, casting information, clippings, publicity, photographs, sheet music, and original storyboards. Featured film titles include "The Sound of Music", "West Side Story", "Star!", "The Haunting", "Star Trek: The Motion Picture", and voluminous material on the never-produced "Battle! The Lives and Wars of Robert Capa".

The remainder of the collection consists of awards and ephemera (including Wise's Golden Globe in 1961 for West Side Story), correspondence, and personal papers and publications in the form of photographs, film magazines, novels, event programs, and trip iteraries. The collection also includes leather-bound final drafts and annotated shooting scripts for thirty Wise-related projects, including "The Magnificent Ambersons", "West Side Story", "The Set-Up", "The Andromedia Strain", "The Curse of the Cat People", and "The Day the Earth Stood Still".


  • 1904 - 2001
  • Majority of material found within 1954 - 1979


Conditions Governing Access

COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Cinematic Arts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Cinematic Arts Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Biographical Note

Robert Wise, born September 10, 1914, was an American movie director and producer, best known for such works as "West Side Story", "The Sound of Music", and "The Haunting". Wise grew up in Connersville, Indiana and went to school at Franklin College for journalism. After the Great Depression impacted his education, Wise left for Hollywood in 1933, where he began working at RKO Pictures in the film-shipping room. Wise moved up in rank, working as an assistant editor in the fields of sound, music, and special effects. By 1939, Wise had earned the title of editor on such films as "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "My Favorite Wife", and gained an Academy Award nomination for his work on "Citizen Kane". Wise also re-edited and directed a scene in the 1942 film "The Magnificent Ambersons" after RKO took over creative control from Orson Welles. Wise's official directing debut came in 1944 as a replacement director on "The Curse of the Cat People". Wise's last film for RKO was 1949's "The Set-Up".

During the 1950s, Wise branched out to more genres, including science fiction, melodrama, and westerns. Beginning in 1959, Wise served as the executive producer on a large portion of his films. In the 1960s, Wise added yet another genre to his directing resume, proving competence amongst Broadway musicals with his film adaptions of "West Side Story", "Two for the Seesaw", and "The Sound of Music." He also directed "The Haunting" in 1963, an adaption of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House.

In the 1970s, Wise directed such films as "The Andromeda Strain", "Audrey Rose", and "Star Trek: The Motion Picture". After "Star Trek", Wise would go on to direct only two more films. Instead, he focused on other aspects of the film industry, serving as the president of the Acadmey of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1984 to 1987 and sitting on the Board of Trustees of the American Film Institute.

Wise was a four-time Oscar-winner (1961, "West Side Story" and 1965, "The Sound of Music"), as well as the winner of such accolades as the Director's Guild of America for outstanding lifetime achivement (1988), the Irving G. Thlaberg Memorial Award (1966), and the AFI's Lifetime Achievement Award (1998).

Wise was married to actress Patricia Doyle until her death in 1975. In 1977 he married Millicent Franklin. He has one son. Wise died of heart failure on September 14, 2005, at age 91.


58.5 Linear Feet (54 boxes)

Language of Materials



Robert Wise was an American movie director and producer, best known for "West Side Story" and "The Sound of Music", as well as his early career at RKO Pictures, wherein he infamously re-edited and directed a scene in Orson Welles' "The Magnificent Ambersons". This collection comprises primarly film files of twenty-six completed as well as proposed projects including "The Sound of Music", "West Side Story", and "The Haunting". It also contains awards and ephemera, correspondence, personal papers and publications, and leather-bound scripts of thirty titles.


The collection is organized into the following series: 1. Film files; 2. Awards and ephemera; 3. Correspondence; 4. Personal papers and publiciations; 5. Bound scripts. Film files have been broken down further into subseries, alphabetically by film title. Film files and bound scripts are arranged alphabetically. Awards and ephemera, correspondence, and personal papers and publications are arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Robert Wise, received in installments between 1969-1977. Additional box of items received on June 9, 1988, care of Wise's assistant Julie Hirsh.

Finding aid for the Robert Wise papers
Sarah Cassone
2018 October
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries Cinematic Arts Library Repository

Doheny Memorial Library G4
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-0185 United States