Papers of actors Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson acquired
By Jennifer Tisdale
The Ransom Center has acquired the papers of actors, and husband and wife, Eli Wallach (1915–2014) and Anne Jackson (1925–2016). Known as method actors and early members of the Actors Studio in New York, Wallach and Jackson had extensive and independent careers on stage and screen while also performing together in several productions.
The 40 boxes of the papers of Eli Wallach, a 1936 graduate of The University of Texas, and Anne Jackson cover the span of their lives and careers. The method actors’ collection of heavily annotated scripts — including theater premieres of Tennessee Williams’ “Summer and Smoke” (1948), “The Rose Tattoo” (1951), and “Camino Real” (1953) and film scripts of Arthur Miller’s “The Misfits” (1961) and the classic Spaghetti Western “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” (1966) — document their unique approaches to developing a character. The collection also includes playbills, awards, clippings, posters, professional and candid photographs, correspondence, scrapbooks, home movies, and interviews.
“Few actors documented their process like Anne Jackson and Eli Wallach did,” says Dr. Eric Colleary, Cline Curator of Theatre and Performing Arts at the Ransom Center. “They were absolute masters of their craft. Throughout their scripts you can find complex character sketches and marginal notes detailing why their characters behave the way they do. They bring an entirely new dimension to some of the most important plays and films of the 20th century.”
The papers have connections to several collections in the Ransom Center’s film and performing arts holdings, including those of Stella Adler, Robert De Niro, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, and others.
“The collection will prove to be a rich and rewarding one for students and scholars as it also highlights one of the great strengths of the Ransom Center’s collections, the connections between artists — from Tennessee Williams to Arthur Miller to Norman Mailer to Magnum Photos,” says Ransom Center Curator of Film Steve Wilson. “We are proud to become the custodians of Wallach and Jackson’s remarkable legacy.”
Married for 66 years, Wallach and Jackson’s partnership mirrors similar relationships between actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn and Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks. Wallach and Jackson, who met while performing in a 1946 production of Tennessee Williams’ “This Property is Condemned,” appeared multiple times together on Broadway and off Broadway.
Jackson, who was nominated for a Tony Award for “Middle of the Night” (1956) and won an Obie award for her performances in “The Tiger” and “The Typists” (1963), made her Broadway debut in “The New Moon” (1944). Jackson had film credits in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” (1980), “How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life” (1968) and “So Young, So Bad” (1950) while numerous roles in television series included “General Electric Theater” (1956–1962), “The Untouchables” (1962), “Gunsmoke” (1972), “Law & Order” (1997), and “ER” (2003).
Jackson’s memoir, “Early Stages” (1979), noted that she and Wallach had much in common: “Neither of us could sing; both of us loved to act; we were both ambitious and idealistic; and we endowed each other with the most extraordinary virtues.”
Wallach also penned a memoir, “The Good, the Bad, and Me” (2006), sharing his experiences on stage and his performances in more than 90 films, including “Baby Doll” (1956), “The Magnificent Seven” (1960), “The Misfits” (1961), “Lord Jim” (1965), “How to Steal a Million” (1966), “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” (1966), “The Godfather: Part III” (1990), and “The Holiday” (2006).
Upon Wallach’s receipt of an honorary Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement, actor Robert De Niro said, “I’ve heard Eli referred to as a character actor, and I think that’s meant to describe an actor who customarily plays supporting roles. But really we’re all character actors — or at least striving to be one. It makes no difference whether his character is the lead or supporting. Eli brings the same craft, dedication and artistry to the challenge.”
While attending The University of Texas, Wallach was a member of the university’s Curtain Club and performed alongside Walter Cronkite and Zachary Scott.
The papers will be accessible once processed and cataloged.