Academy Award-winning director/writer/producer Robert Benton donated his papers to the Alkek Library’s Southwestern Writers Collection at the Wittliff Collections in 2001. Known for such films as Bonnie and Clyde, Kramer vs. Kramer, Places in the Heart, and Nobody’s Fool, Benton’s collection includes 45 boxes of original manuscripts, annotated screenplays, photographs, storyboards, and publicity material. The Benton Papers are a welcome addition to the extensive film and television archives at the Wittliff Collections, which include the Lonesome Dove television miniseries archive, the King of the Hill production archive, and the papers of screenwriter Bill Broyles. The Benton collection was processed during last year’s fall semester by students in Texas State’s Public History graduate program and is now open for research.
Born in Waxahachie, Texas, in 1932, Robert Benton has had an illustrious career in film. His most acclaimed work is the film Kramer vs. Kramer, an Oscar-winning drama starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep. Benton took home the award for Best Director and Best Screenplay while Hoffman and Streep both won Oscars for their performances. The Benton Papers in the Wittliff Collections contain several annotated drafts of the film’s screenplay, showing its development. Screenplays such as this offer students and researchers an opportunity to follow the creative process of writing (and re-writing) a film script. The collection contains screenplays from other Benton films, such as Billy Bathgate, in addition to over 2000 photographs of cast members, production notes, film posters, and press clippings from around the world.
Students and researchers are encouraged to visit the Wittliff Collections and explore the papers of this legendary Texas filmmaker. To make an appointment to view the Robert Benton papers, please contact archivist Katie Salzmann. For more information on the Wittliff Collections, go to www.thewittliffcollections.txstate.edu or stop by the galleries and information desk on the seventh floor of the library.
—Courtesy of Alan Schaefer
Wittliff Collections Graduate Assistant for Public Services