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William Hal Ashby (1929-1988) was born in Ogden, Utah. Arriving in Los Angeles in 1950, he started in the mailroom at Universal and eventually found work as an apprentice, then assistant, editor. He worked for editor Robert Swink on "Friendly Persuasion" (1956) and "The Diary of Anne Frank" (1959). By the mid-1960s Ashby was a full-fledged editor, working primarily for director Norman Jewison. Ashby made his directorial debut in 1970 with "The Landlord" and helmed such films as "Harold and Maude" (1971) and "Shampoo" (1975). He formed his own production company, Hal Ashby Productions, around 1971, and cofounded Northstar International Pictures in 1980. Ashby received an Academy Award for editing "In the Heat of the Night" (1967) and was nominated for editing "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming" (1966) and for directing "Coming Home" (1978).
The Hal Ashby papers span the years 1920-1989 (bulk 1965-1986) and encompass approximately 50 linear feet. The collection contains production files, subject files, family and personal files, legal files, and business and financial files. There are extensive production files for "Being There" (1979), "Bound for Glory" (1976), "Coming Home" (1978), "8 Million Ways to Die" (1986), and "Gaily, Gaily" (1969). The files usually consist of scripts, correspondence, legal material, and clippings. Some files include extensive research. There are also files for projects on which Ashby worked, most of which were never produced. Of interest are the files on "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest," which contain a screenplay and correspondence from Ken Kesey. The subject files contain correspondence with such individuals as Norman Jewison and Bob Lawrence, as well as information about Ashby’s daily business life, through telephone logs and daily journals. The family and personal files contain information about Ashby’s marriages and divorces, adoption of his children, and correspondence from his mother and other relatives. The legal files include correspondence and documents regarding both personal and business matters. Of special interest are the files on Lorimar Productions regarding his problem with the company and their refusal to allow Ashby to begin to work on “Tootsie” until “Lookin’ to Get Out” was finished. There is also a deposition by Ashby given for his suit against PSO Presentations. The business and financial files contain information about Ashby’s companies, particularly Hal Ashby Productions and Northstar International Pictures.
Gift of the Hal Ashby estate, 1990.