Alan Campbell and Dorothy Parker Collection ([1930]-1949, bulk 1938-1946 )
Summary Information
Title: Alan Campbell and Dorothy Parker Collection
Creator: Campbell, Alan, 1905-1963 Creator: Parker, Dorothy, 1893-1967
Inclusive dates: [1930]-1949
Bulk dates: 1938-1946
Extent: 2 boxes, 1.25 linear feet
Abstract:
Alan Campbell , American actor and screenwriter, wrote, with his wife Dorothy Parker, screenplays for Hollywood studios during the 1930s. The collection contains the correspondence and writings of Alan Campbell and Dorothy Parker. Included is World War II correspondence, scripts, screenplays, fragments of several short stories, a play, as well as typescripts of pieces by some of Campbell and Parker's contemporaries.
Call number: Campbell-Parker
Language: The material is in English.
Repository: University of Michigan Library (Special Collections Research Center), Screen Arts Mavericks & Makers

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright has not been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan. Permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s).

Preferred Citation:

Alan Campbell and Dorothy Parker Collection, University of Michigan Library (Special Collections Research Center)

Collection History
Acquisition Information:

The collection was donated by G. Robinson Gregory and Ann Gregory.

Processing Information:

Processed by Amy Cooper, 1999.


Biography

Alan Campbell was born in 1904 in Richmond, Virginia. His early education was at the Virginia Military Institute where he majored in civil engineering. In spite of this, he showed promise in artistic endeavors, with a special interest in acting. He lived with his mother, Horte, and her parents for two years after graduation while working for the Virginia State Highway Department. Unhappy with this life, Campbell ran away from home and took a train to New York City, determined to become an actor. By 1933, when Campbell met Dorothy Parker, he had become a relatively successful actor who had also published some stories in The New Yorker .

Dorothy Parker, forty years old in 1933, was already a sensation in New York society known for her scalding wit. Born Dorothy Rothschild on August 22, 1893 to Eliza and Henry Rothschild, she was the last of four children. Eliza died when Dorothy was five and her father re-married Eleanor Franes Lewis in 1900, who died in 1903. Dorothy attended Catholic school as a child and attended a private school in New Jersey. She did not attend college. In 1914, her first poem, “Any Porch,” was accepted by Vanity Fair , and Parker immediately asked the editor for a position with the magazine. He did not give her this position, but offered her a position on the staff of Vogue , which she took. She wrote copy for lingerie advertisements before making her debut with Vanity Fair in 1918. She married Edwin Pond Parker III in 1917, whose name she kept for the rest of her life. In 1920, Parker was fired from Vanity Fair for the acerbity of her theater reviews. She immediately embarked on her freelance career, sharing a small office with Robert Benchley, who quit Vanity Fair out of sympathy at the same time she was fired. Her freelance writing career continued through the rest of her life.

Campbell and Parker met in 1933 and were married in 1934. They worked together as a screenwriting team, receiving writing credit for over 15 films between 1934 and 1941. They also worked with other Hollywood writers. Together, they wrote for the big Hollywood film companies and producers, including David O. Selznick, Paramount and United Artists. And, for a time, their manager was Zeppo Marx. The Parker and Campbell writing team was well known, and they were active in both Hollywood and in New York’s social circle. As a team, their major achievement was writing A Star is Born with Robert Carson, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1937.

In 1942, Campbell enlisted as a private in the military at Parker’s urging. He was stationed in Miami, Florida, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Long Island, and attended Officer Candidate School, where he attained the rank of Lieutenant. He was shipped overseas in November of 1943, where he was initially stationed in London with the Air Force Intelligence. Campbell then served in Paris and Germany before returning to New York in November of 1946. Parker and Campbell were divorced in 1947, but re-married in 1950, only to move to apart from each other in 1952. They finally settled in Hollywood in 1956, remaining together until Alan’s suicide in 1963. After his death, Dorothy Parker returned to New York where she died four years later, in 1967.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Alan Campbell and Dorothy Parker Collection consists of four series, Correspondence, Financial Papers, Writings and Miscellaneous. The Collection contains correspondence and writings of Alan Campbell and Dorothy Parker. Included is correspondence from Campbell to Parker, written during World War II; several letters from Zeppo Marx; and a few letters from Leland Hayward and Rosalie Stewart, with many references to other celebrities. Also included is a portion of the Campbell-Parker collaboration on the screenplay A Star is Born , written with Robert Carson. Campbell’s writings include the script for Told to the Children while Parker is represented by fragments of several short stories and her play The Coast of Illyria . The collection also includes typescripts of pieces written by contemporaries of Campbell and Parker, including Stephen Vincent Benét, Elliott Nugent, John O’Hara, Robert Penn Warren, and Sagittarius (aka Olga Katzin).

Subject Terms
    Subjects:
    • Authors, American -- 20th century.
    • Benchley, Robert, 1889-1945.
    • Cavett, Frank.
    • Dramatists, American -- 20th century.
    • Goldwyn, Samuel, 1882-1974.
    • Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961.
    • Houseman, John.
    • Logan, Joshua.
    • Logan, Nedda Harrigan.
    • London (England) -- Intellectual life -- 20th century.
    • Motion pictures -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th century.
    • New York (N.Y.) -- Intellectual life -- 20th century.
    • Niven, David, 1910- 1983.
    • Screenwriters -- United States -- 20th century.
    • Selznick, David O., 1902-1965.
    • Seuss, Dr.
    • Soldiers -- Military life.
    Contributors:
    • Bené́t, Stephen Vincent, 1898-1943.
    • Campbell, Alan, 1905-1963.
    • Carson, Robert.
    • Evans, Ross, 1916-1967.
    • Hayward, Leland, 1902-1971.
    • Marx, Zeppo, 1901-1979.
    • Nugent, Elliott, 1899- .
    • O’Hara, John, 1905-1970.
    • Parker, Dorothy, 1893-1967.
    • Sagittarius, 1896- .
    • Selznick, David O., 1902-1965.
    • Stewart, Rosalie.
    • Warren, Robert Penn, 1905-1989.
    Genre Terms:
    • Notes.
    • Personal correspondence.
    • Photographs.
    • Screenplays.
    • Short stories.
    • Typescripts.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
     
    Correspondence [series]:

    The Correspondence series is primarily comprised of letters written by Alan Campbell to Dorothy Parker during his military service in World War II. The letters, though obviously composed with the military censor in mind, are highly descriptive and evocative of war time experience. Campbell describes his daily activities as well as those of his troops. He also portrays the social worlds of London and Paris, and mentions other writers involved in the war effort such as Major Theodore Giesel (Dr. Seuss). A few of these letters include photographs, which have been housed in envelopes and left with the accompanying letter for the purpose of continuity.

    The collection contains no replies to any of Campbell's World War II letters. In all of these letters, Campbell writes fondly of his desire for a continuing relationship with Parker, even though the two divorced within several months of his return home from the service in 1946. It is possible that the correspondence was weeded at some point, to eliminate signs of strife. There are also a number of letters Campbell sent to Parker from Hollywood, presumably while she was either at their country home in Pennsylvania or in New York City. These letters discuss the Hollywood social circle and his script writing. There are also three letters to other recipients: Hiram Beer, the groundskeeper of their Pennsylvania home; the Packard Motor Car Company, complaining of Campbell’s purchase of a “lemon;” and to an unidentified woman named Peggy.

    The sub-series Incoming Correspondence is less extensive, but includes letters from Rosalie Stewart, Leland Hayward and Zeppo Marx, all of whom acted as agents for the Parker/Campbell writing team. There is also a small group of letters from Paul Streger to Campbell and Parker, and a letter from Mrs.Edward Warburg, inviting Dorothy Parker to attend a function where Eleanor Roosevelt was to be present.

     
    Outgoing
     
    Campbell, Alan
     
    To Dorothy Parker
    Box   1  
     June -October, 1941 (3 items)
    Box   1  
     September, 1942 (2 items)
    Box   1  
     December, 1943 (5 items)
    Box   1  
     January 1, 1944-May 30, 1944
    Box   1  
     June 4, 1944-December 5, 1944
    Box   1  
     January 14, 1945-May 30, 1945
    Box   1  
     June 7, 1945-August 3, 1945
    Box   1  
    August 7, 1945-January 18, [1946]
     
     Undated
    Box   1  
    Miscellaneous letters from California
    Box   1  
    RKO Pictures [1938-1941 ?]
    Box   1  
    Miscellaneous letters from Europe [1943-1945]
     
    To Hiram Beer
    Box   1  
     October 14, 1941
     
    To Peggy (?)
    Box   1  
     Undated (1 item)
     
    To the Packard Motor Car Company
    Box   1  
     Undated (1 item)
     
    Incoming
     
    Hayward, Leland (to Campbell and Parker)
    Box   1  
     December 13-December 25, 1937 (2 items)
     
    Marx, Zeppo (to Campbell and Parker)
    Box   1  
    September 17, 1936-December 29, [1938 ?] (21 items)
    Box   1  
     Undated (1 item)
     
    Stewart, Rosalie (to Campbell and Parker)
    Box   1  
     August 17, 1934
     
    Streger, Paul (to Campbell and Parker)
    Box   1  
    May 8, 1939-October 25, [1939] (6 items)
    Box   1  
     Undated (1 item)
     
    Warburg, Mrs. Edward M. M. (to Parker)
    Box   1  
     February 20, 1948
     
    Financial Papers [series]:

    The Financial Papers series comprises 8 items in total, including bank statements, an account sheet, and three canceled checks signed by Dorothy Parker. One of these checks, to the Migratory Worker’s Fund, reflects Parker’s growing interest in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s in Socialist and Communist causes.

    Box   1  
    Bank Statements, Dorothy Parker (4 items)
    Box   1  
    Canceled Checks, Dorothy Parker (3 items)
    Box   1  
    Account Sheet [manuscript] (1 item)
     
    Writings [series]:

    The Writings series consists of typescripts with holograph annotations. The series contains writings by Campbell, Parker, the Campbell and Parker team, and other authors. Campbell’s writings comprise five story fragments and three script fragments. Among the script fragments is Told to the Children, written with Robert Stevenson. Scripts written by the team of Campbell and Parker include Hands Across the Table (for Paramount, 1935); Legal Holiday (for Columbia); Mary Burns, Fugitive ( for Paramount, 1935); Thirteen Hours by Air , The Case Against Mrs. Ames , and Two on a Tower (for Paramount, 1935). There are also several pieces of the script for A Star is Born (for United Artists, 1937), written with Robert Carson and nominated for an Academy Award. Parker’s writings include her play, The Coast of Illyria , written with Ross Evans and first staged in Dallas at the Margo Jones Theatre, in April 1949. This series also includes fragments of several stories, including “Clothe the Naked” (published in 1939); “Cousin Larry” (published in the New Yorker in 1934); “The Custard Heart” (published in 1939); “Glory in the Daytime” (published in 1933); “Just a Little One” (published in 1930); “Lady with a Lamp;” and “Star in the Window.”

    The Writings series also contains typescripts from contemporaries of Parker and Campbell, including Stephen Vincent Benet, Eliott Nugent, John O’Hara, Eugenie Ratoff and George George, Robert Penn Warren and Sagittarius (a.k.a. Olga Katzin). There are three stories for which the authors are unknown.

     
    Campbell, Alan
     
    Miscellaneous
    Box   2  
    Katharine Hepburn
     
    Scripts
    Box   2  
    A Real Vacation
    Box   2  
    Told to the Children (with Robert Stevenson)
    Box   2  
    Untitled (holograph)
     
    Stories
    Box   2  
    “Birth of a Novelty”
    Box   2  
    “Highway Robbery”
    Box   2  
    “I Never Read the Notices” (Fragment)
    Box   2  
    “Now that Spring is Here” (for American Play Company, Inc., NY)
    Box   2  
    “The Woman Who Always Sits Behind Me” (Fragment)
    Box   2  
    Untitled (Fragments)
     
    Campbell, Alan and Dorothy Parker
     
    The Case Against Mrs. Ames (1935)
    Box   2  
    New Material (March 14, 1934)
    Box   2  
    Additional Pages 23-32 (February 10, 1936)
    Box   2  
    [Synopses] (2 items)
     
    Script
    Box   2  
    Sequence A
    Box   2  
    Sequence B
    Box   2  
    Sequence C
    Box   2  
    Sequence D
    Box   2  
    [Sequence E] (fragment)
    Box   2  
    Sequence F
    Box   2  
    Sequence G
    Box   2  
    Sequence H
    Box   2  
    Treatment by Sylvia Thalberg
    Box   2  
    Miscellaneous untitled drafts (fragments, 3 items)
    Box   2  
    Hands Across the Table (Paramount)
    Box   2  
    Legal Holiday (alternately titled: Crime Takes a Holiday , Take it to Court ; Columbia)
    Box   2  
    Mary Burns, Fugitive (Paramount)
    Box   2  
    One Hour Late (Paramount 1935)
     
    A Star is Born (alternately titled: It Happened in Hollywood ; written with Robert Carson, United Artists)
    Box   2  
    It Happened in Hollywood , Continuity of Scenes,  9/24/36
    Box   2  
    Incomplete Script,  10/16/36
    Box   2  
    Final Shooting Script (incomplete)  10/16/36
    Box   2  
    Writer’s Notes,  11/10/36
    Box   2  
    Script Fragment (undated)
     
    Twenty Hours by Air (alternately titled: Thirteen Hours by Air )
     
    Thirteen Hours by Air
    Box   2  
    Sequence B (January 28, 1936)
    Box   2  
    Sequence C
    Box   2  
    Sequence D
    Box   2  
    Twenty Hours by Air , Sequence A
    Box   2  
    Two on a Tower (alternately titled: Paris in Spring ; Paramount)
     
    Parker, Dorothy
     
    Plays
    Box   2  
    The Coast of Illyria (written with Ross Evans)
     
    Stories
    Box   2  
    “Clothe the Naked” (alternately titled: “A Walk to the Corner”, fragment)
    Box   2  
    “Cousin Larry” (alternately titled: “Cousin Stuyvie,” fragment)
    Box   2  
    “The Custard Heart (Fragment)
    Box   2  
    “Glory in the Daytime” (Fragment)
    Box   2  
    “Just a Little One” (Fragment)
    Box   2  
    “Lady with a Lamp”
    Box   2  
    “Star in the Window” (Fragment)
     
    Miscellaneous
    Box   2  
    [Henry Wallace],  September 18, 1946
    Box   2  
    Untitled (Fragments) (2 items)
     
    Others' Writings
    Box   2  
    Benet, Stephen Vincent, "The Sobbin’ Women"
    Box   2  
    Nugent, Elliott, Man with Silver
    Box   2  
    O’Hara, John, "The Doctor’s Son"
    Box   2  
    Ratoff, Eugenie and George, George No Money in Her Purse
    Box   2  
    Warren, Robert Penn, The Circus in the Attic
    Box   2  
    Sagittarius (a.k.a: Olga Katzin) “P. for Snowdrop” (Published  May 20, 1944 The New Statesman and Nation )
     
    Unknown
    Box   2  
    Paris Underground
    Box   2  
    The New Divorce
    Box   2  
    Small Studio
    Box   2  
    Untitled (scene synopsis)
     
    Miscellaneous [series]:

    The Miscellaneous series contains two scores, one with lyrics credited to Dorothy Parker, the other unattributed; newspaper and magazine clippings; two rough sketches, of a house and a lamp, by an unknown artist; two photographs of Alan Campbell and Dorothy Parker;

    Box   2  
    Clippings (mostly about or by Dorothy Parker)
      2  
    Photograph (posed, sepia toned of Dorothy Parker and Alan Campbell),  undated
      2  
    Photograph (Framed, black and white, of Dorothy Paker, seated, and Alan Campbell, standing, with two dogs. Accompanied by note stating that Parker designed the chair in the photograph),  undated
    Box   2  
    Sketches (2 items)