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Also Known As: Died: March 7, 1987
Born: October 18, 1914 Cause of Death: lung cancer
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA Profession: screenwriter, dialogue director, actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Although his name recognition was not as great as the Hollywood Ten's Dalton Trumbo and Ring Lardner Jr., Waldo Salt took the same unpopular stand of conscience as they, refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. The former drama teacher had received his first credit as a screenwriter for "The Shopworn Girl" (1938), reportedly worked uncredited on "The Philadelphia Story" (1940) and adapted "The Wild Man of Borneo" (1941) from a play by Marc Connelly and Herman Mankiewicz, among his projects, before World War II interrupted his career. Returning from overseas, he scripted "Rachel and the Stranger" (1948) and "The Flame and the Arrow" (1950), but the Hollywood blacklist would lock him out, stealing a decade from his working life. His next credit as Waldo Salt came for "Taras Bulba" (1962), adapted with Karl Tunberg from the Nikolai Gogol novel.Salt fully hit his stride with the Oscar-winning script for John Schlesinger's "Midnight Cowboy" (1969), an emotionally shattering dramatization of James Leo Herlihy's novel. With the seamy side of NYC as backdrop for its compelling character study, this seminal picture of the 60s looks every bit as good today as when it debuted....

Although his name recognition was not as great as the Hollywood Ten's Dalton Trumbo and Ring Lardner Jr., Waldo Salt took the same unpopular stand of conscience as they, refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. The former drama teacher had received his first credit as a screenwriter for "The Shopworn Girl" (1938), reportedly worked uncredited on "The Philadelphia Story" (1940) and adapted "The Wild Man of Borneo" (1941) from a play by Marc Connelly and Herman Mankiewicz, among his projects, before World War II interrupted his career. Returning from overseas, he scripted "Rachel and the Stranger" (1948) and "The Flame and the Arrow" (1950), but the Hollywood blacklist would lock him out, stealing a decade from his working life. His next credit as Waldo Salt came for "Taras Bulba" (1962), adapted with Karl Tunberg from the Nikolai Gogol novel.

Salt fully hit his stride with the Oscar-winning script for John Schlesinger's "Midnight Cowboy" (1969), an emotionally shattering dramatization of James Leo Herlihy's novel. With the seamy side of NYC as backdrop for its compelling character study, this seminal picture of the 60s looks every bit as good today as when it debuted. Continuing his gritty, socially informed work, Salt received an Academy Award nomination for his contribution to Sidney Lumet's "Serpico" (1973), then reteamed with Schlesinger for "The Day of the Locust" (1975), a disturbing, depressing, absolutely fascinating look at 30s Tinseltown. Primarily an adapter of others, Salt won his second Oscar for co-scripting the original screenplay "Coming Home" (1978), a highly acclaimed post-Vietnam drama directed by Hal Ashby and starring Jane Fonda and Jon Voight.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Into The Night (1985) Male Derelict
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1934:
Served as director of drama and music at Menlo School and Junior College in Menlo Park, California
1938:
Received first screenwriting credit for "The Shopworn Girl" adapted from Dana Burnet's story "Private Pettigrew's Girl"
1940:
Reportedly did uncredited work on the script of "The Philadelphia Story"
1941:
Adapted "The Wild Man of Borneo" from play by Marc Connelly and Herman Mankiewicz
:
Worked as consultant for US Army films
:
Was consultant for the Office of War Information, Overseas Film Bureau
1950:
Served as dialogue director in addition to scripting "The Flame and the Arrow"
1951:
Provided additional dialogue for "M"
:
Blacklisted in Hollywood for refusing to testify in Washington before the House Un-American Activities Committee
1962:
First screenwriting credit post-blacklist, "Taras Bulba", co-adapted with Karl Tunberg from the Nikolai Gogol novel
1964:
Collaborated on two screenplays for director Michael Anderson, "Flight from Ashiya" and "Wild and Wonderful"
1969:
Won Oscar for his "Midnight Cowboy" screenplay, based on the novel by James Leo Herlihy; first collaboration with director John Schlesinger
1971:
Adapted Jimmy Breslin's best-selling novel "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight" for the screen
1973:
Shared Oscar nomination with Norman Wexler for the screenplay for "Serpico", based on Peter Maas' book
1975:
Reteamed with Schlesinger, adapting Nathanael West's novel "The Day of the Locust"
1978:
Received second Oscar for co-writing (with Robert C Jones and Nancy Dowd) the anti-war romantic drama "Coming Home"
1983:
Played cameo role as a male derelict in John Landis' "Into the Night"
1990:
Subject of Oscar-nominated documentary, "Waldo Salt: A Screenwriter's Journey"; aired on PBS in 1991
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Education

Stanford University: Stanford , California - 1929 - 1934

Notes

The Sundance Film Festival annual screenwriting award is named in his honor.

Regarding the Hollywood Blacklist: "We suffered from it, and the country did. The American people have to pay for these little gang wars between politicians who are fighting over how much graft they're going to get."-- Waldo Salt, to the authors of "Contemporary Theatre, Film & Television", Volume 6

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Ambur Dana. Married in 1939; divorced.
wife:
Mary Davenport. Married in 1942; divorced.
wife:
Gladys Schwartz. Married in 1969; divorced.
wife:
Eve Merriam. Playwright, poet, author. Married from October 22, 1983 until his death; died of cancer on April 11, 1992 at age 75; Salt was her fourth husband.
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Family close complete family listing

father:
William Haslem Salt. Business executive, artist.
mother:
Winifred Salt. Alcoholic.
daughter:
Jennifer Salt. Actor. Born on September 4, 1944; acted in "Midnight Cowboy" (1968), scripted by father.
daughter:
Deborah Salt.
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