Research Catalog

Bill Gunn papers

Title
Bill Gunn papers, approximately 1950-1989
Author
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989.
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StatusVol/DateFormatAccessCall NumberItem Location
Box 1Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 1Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 2Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 2Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 3Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 3Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 4Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 4Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 5Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 5Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 6Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 6Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 7Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 7Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 8Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 8Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 9Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 9Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 10Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 10Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 11Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 11Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 12Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 12Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 13Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 13Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 14Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 14Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 15Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 15Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 16Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 16Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 17Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 17Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 18Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 18Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 19Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 19Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 20Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 843 Box 20Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives

Details

Additional Authors
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989.
Description
5.9 linear feet (20 boxes)
Subjects
Note
  • Photographs transferred to Photographs and Prints Division.
Source (note)
  • Bill Gunn Estate and Charles "Chiz" Schultz
Biography (note)
  • William (Bill) Harrison Gunn was an African American playwright, novelist, screenwriter, filmmaker, and actor who was active from the mid-1950s until his death in 1989. He was born on July 15, 1934 and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by his parents, William Harrison, Sr., a songwriter and poet, and Louise Alexander Gunn, an actress who directed a local theater company. After dropping out of high school to join the Navy, Gunn returned to Philadelphia in 1952 and found work as a scene painter at Neighborhood Playhouse, where he was cast as an extra in "Street Scene".
  • Gunn moved to New York City's East Village to further pursue his acting career. In 1954, He made his Broadway debut in "The Immoralist," and also appeared in the off-Broadway production of "Take a Giant Step," and the television drama "Carmen in Harlem," opposite Billie Allen. His later theater credits include "The Member of the Wedding" (1955) with Ethel Waters, "Sign of Winter" (1958), "Moon on the Rainbow Shawl" (1962), and the New York Shakespeare Festival productions of "Antony and Cleopatra" and "A Winter's Tale" (1963).
  • In 1959, the Theater Guild in New York produced Gunn's first play, "Marcus in the High Grass," which was followed by the "Celebration" in 1965 at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Gunn's third play, the one-act "Johnnas," premiered at the Chelsea Theatre in 1968 and was produced as a television special in 1972, earning Gunn an Emmy for Best Television Play. While Gunn expanded his career into television and film screenwriting throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, he returned to theater in 1975 with "Black Picture Show," an AUDELCO Award-winning musical co-written with musician, Sam Wayman. Gunn continued to work as a playwright throughout the 1980s, producing "Rhinestone," a musical based on his 1981 semi-autobiographical novel, "Rhinestone Sharecropping," as well as "Family Employment" in 1985 and "The Forbidden City," his final work in 1989.
  • Gunn was a pioneer of Black independent filmmaking. In 1970, he became the second Black filmmaker to direct a film for a major studio with his directorial debut, "Stop," which was shelved by Warner Bros due to its controversial premise and X rating. In 1973, Gunn wrote, directed and acted in "Ganja & Hess," a horror film about vampires starring Duane Jones and Marlene Clark. While the film was marketed as a blaxploitation film and received a limited release in the United States, it was critically acclaimed, and selected for Critic's Week at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973, and later recognized as one of the ten best American films of the decade by Cannes. Gunn later directed "Personal Problems" in 1980, an avant-garde soap opera extensively featuring Black directors, writers, and actors such as Vertamae Grosvenor, Walter Cotton, Michele Wallace, and Jim Wright.
  • Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Gunn also directed and produced a number of television programs, including "The Alberta Hunter Story," a five-part series about legendary jazz singer Alberta Hunter for the BBC; "The Life of Sojourner Truth" for CBS' "The American Parade"; and a television special for Lena Horne produced by Bill Cosby. In addition to his extensive credits as a playwright, screenwriter and filmmaker, Gunn published two novels, "All the Rest Have Died" (1964) "Rhinestone Sharecropping" (1981).
Call Number
Sc MG 843
OCLC
946743805
Author
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989.
Title
Bill Gunn papers, approximately 1950-1989
Type of Content
text
Type of Medium
unmediated
Type of Carrier
sheet
Summary
The Bill Gunn Papers (1948-1994) document the extent of his career as a playwright, screenwriter and filmmaker, and contain material about his acting and directing accomplishments. Included in the collection are annotated drafts and final versions of play scripts, screenplays, teleplays, novels and short stories, and related programs, reviews, flyers and clippings, and letters.
The Personal series, ca. 1948-1994, features biographical information about Gunn, including bibliographies, interviews, and clippings, as well as obituaries and memorial programs. There are files for Gunn's parents, Louise and William Harrison Gunn, Sr., personal correspondence, writing notes, and information about Gunn's estate.
The Professional series, ca. 1954-1986, offers a glimpse at Gunn's early career as an actor as well as his general professional endeavors beyond his work as a writer, and includes professional correspondence.
The Writing series, ca. 1959-1991, comprises the bulk of the collection and is organized into six sub-series: Novels, Short Stories, Play Scripts, Screenplays, Teleplays, and General. The series encompasses the complete oeuvre of Gunn's work, demonstrating his creativity and experiences in each medium. The material includes drafts, galleys, annotated manuscripts, playscripts, and teleplays, production material, correspondence and notes pertaining to Gunn's four decades in show business, and contains both published/produced and unpublished/unproduced work. Of note are the play scripts for "Black Picture Show" (1975), "Family Employment" (1985), "The Forbidden City" (1989), "Johnnas" (1968), "Marcus in the High Grass" (1959), and "Rhinestone" (1982), and the screenplays of "Ganja & Hess" (1973), "I Am the Greatest: The Life of Muhammad Ali", the original script of "The Greatest" (1977), "The Landlord" (1970), and the unreleased "Stop" (1970).
The Collected Materials series, ca. 1969-1986, consists of screenplays, teleplays and essays by other writers and actors, including Janus Adams, Wesley Brown, Dwayne McDuffie, Joe Morton, and Anthony Regusters. Notable material includes two screenplays for "Shaft" by John D. F. Black and Ernest Tidyman.
Biography
William (Bill) Harrison Gunn was an African American playwright, novelist, screenwriter, filmmaker, and actor who was active from the mid-1950s until his death in 1989. He was born on July 15, 1934 and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by his parents, William Harrison, Sr., a songwriter and poet, and Louise Alexander Gunn, an actress who directed a local theater company. After dropping out of high school to join the Navy, Gunn returned to Philadelphia in 1952 and found work as a scene painter at Neighborhood Playhouse, where he was cast as an extra in "Street Scene".
Gunn moved to New York City's East Village to further pursue his acting career. In 1954, He made his Broadway debut in "The Immoralist," and also appeared in the off-Broadway production of "Take a Giant Step," and the television drama "Carmen in Harlem," opposite Billie Allen. His later theater credits include "The Member of the Wedding" (1955) with Ethel Waters, "Sign of Winter" (1958), "Moon on the Rainbow Shawl" (1962), and the New York Shakespeare Festival productions of "Antony and Cleopatra" and "A Winter's Tale" (1963).
In 1959, the Theater Guild in New York produced Gunn's first play, "Marcus in the High Grass," which was followed by the "Celebration" in 1965 at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Gunn's third play, the one-act "Johnnas," premiered at the Chelsea Theatre in 1968 and was produced as a television special in 1972, earning Gunn an Emmy for Best Television Play. While Gunn expanded his career into television and film screenwriting throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, he returned to theater in 1975 with "Black Picture Show," an AUDELCO Award-winning musical co-written with musician, Sam Wayman. Gunn continued to work as a playwright throughout the 1980s, producing "Rhinestone," a musical based on his 1981 semi-autobiographical novel, "Rhinestone Sharecropping," as well as "Family Employment" in 1985 and "The Forbidden City," his final work in 1989.
Gunn was a pioneer of Black independent filmmaking. In 1970, he became the second Black filmmaker to direct a film for a major studio with his directorial debut, "Stop," which was shelved by Warner Bros due to its controversial premise and X rating. In 1973, Gunn wrote, directed and acted in "Ganja & Hess," a horror film about vampires starring Duane Jones and Marlene Clark. While the film was marketed as a blaxploitation film and received a limited release in the United States, it was critically acclaimed, and selected for Critic's Week at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973, and later recognized as one of the ten best American films of the decade by Cannes. Gunn later directed "Personal Problems" in 1980, an avant-garde soap opera extensively featuring Black directors, writers, and actors such as Vertamae Grosvenor, Walter Cotton, Michele Wallace, and Jim Wright.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Gunn also directed and produced a number of television programs, including "The Alberta Hunter Story," a five-part series about legendary jazz singer Alberta Hunter for the BBC; "The Life of Sojourner Truth" for CBS' "The American Parade"; and a television special for Lena Horne produced by Bill Cosby. In addition to his extensive credits as a playwright, screenwriter and filmmaker, Gunn published two novels, "All the Rest Have Died" (1964) "Rhinestone Sharecropping" (1981).
Connect to:
Local Subject
Black author.
Added Author
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989. Alberta Hunter story.
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989. All the rest have died.
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989. Black picture show.
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989. Forbidden city.
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989. Ganja & Hess.
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989. Greatest.
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989. Johnnas.
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989. Landlord.
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989. Marcus in the high grass.
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989. Rhinestone.
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989. Rhinestone sharecropping.
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989. Stop.
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989. Shaft (Motion picture : 1971)
Research Call Number
Sc MG 843
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