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Personal and Early Projects: 1945-2007

The Robert Altman Personal series (14 linear feet, 3 oversized boxes) is comprised of personal material ranging in date from 1945-2007. The material consists of correspondence, legal and medical documents, topical and award related material, early work, interviews and clippings, as well as photographs.

The correspondence sub-series include letters and cards from friends, co-workers and acquaintances, as well as fan mail. Early work is comprised of music, poetry, scripts, and short stories ranging in date from 1945-1965. Documents such as marriage certificates, birth certificates and passports can be found in the legal and other documents sub-series while Robert Altman's wills are in the legal-Jerome Walsh sub-series. The family sub-series is comprised of material relating to Dana Altman and Signe Corriere, as well as an undated family tree. The medical sub-series contain medical records and bills.

Name and topical is the largest sub-series and includes documents pertaining to the Directors Guild of America, letters of recommendation, and Robert Altman's honorary doctorate from the University of Michigan. This sub-series also includes material from people such as Tom Hanks, John Kerry, Richard Nixon, Martin Scorsese, and Tim Robbins. The awards, events and festivals sub-series contain material from Robert Altman's 2006 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Lifetime Achievement Awards, the Lincoln Center Tribute Gala and the Cannes Film Festival.

The interviews sub-series include documents from various magazines and newspapers including Cinema Journal and Time Out London. Clippings is a sub-series ranging in date from 1968-2006 and include various articles about Robert Altman. The photographs sub-series contains photographs from Robert Altman's early, middle and later years as well as family-related photographs, negatives, and slides.

The Early Projects series contains assorted materials from early projects including movies, TV, commercials, and short films (1 linear foot and 1 oversized box).

Bodyguard is a 1948 movie based on a story by Altman starring Lawrence Tierney as an insubordinate police officer who takes work protecting a woman played by Elisabeth Risdon. Altman wrote, directed, and produced a story about rebellious teens called The Delinquents (1957). Altman also directed a 1957 documentary, The James Dean Story.

During this period Altman worked on several TV shows. In Whirlybirds criminals were pursued with the aid of helicopters. Bolt from the Blue was an episode of the popular TV show Maverick that Altman wrote and directed. He also directed the episode Access by Consent for the series Bus Stop and wrote and directed several episodes of The Roaring 20's, and Bonanza. Altman wrote and directed several episodes of the TV series Combat! before being fired from the show over creative differences involving the episode "Survival." A letter from composer Leonard Rosenman is included which may be in reference to a proposal to extend Survival into a full length feature. The collection includes the script for the episode Cat and Mouse.

Two of Altman's TV efforts were made into full length films. Once Upon a Savage Night was originally an hour long piece made for Kraft Suspense Theater and was later expanded into a feature length picture for NBC Nightmare in Chicago. Savage Night is notable for being the first entertainment film to use Eastman high-speed color film type 5258 allowing for film to be shot at night in very low light. A two hour pilot for the show Nightwatch was aired as a movie after the show was not picked up. It was also known as Chicago, Chicago or A Walk in the Night.

The Lili project and The Party were two short films meant to be shown on video jukeboxes.  The Color-Sonics film jukebox was released in 1966 with films printed on 8 mm magnetic-sound film cartages.  These were made by Official Films at Paramount Studios. Additionally an unknown number of these shorts were made into 16 mm prints for the Scopitone jukebox. The Party was set to a Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass song titled Bittersweet Samba and was also known as In Crowd. Altman made two of these films with the famous stripper Lili St. Cyr called Speak Low and Ebb Tide. The collection contains photographic materials from the set of Ebb Tide.

Fashion Fair is a 30-minute fashion show the Altman worked on with Nellie Don, a large mid-priced Kansas City-based fashion company and a woman who started the company. This was part commercial and part TV show. The other two commercials have not been identified.