HRC to expand with purchase of Wallach, Jackson papers

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The Harry Ransom Center expanded their film and performing arts departments with the purchase of 40 boxes of personal materials belonging to the late married actors Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson.

Wallach, who starred in 60s western “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” and Jackson, best known for her work in “The Shining,” were long lauded as method actors. The purchase contains heavily annotated scripts — such as those from playwright Arthur Miller, author of “Death of a Salesman” — that may provide insight into their acting processes.

Steve Wilson, the center’s film curator, said the annotated scripts are some of the most important materials in the new collection.

“The scripts are really beautiful because of the annotations,” Wilson said. “This was a really good collection by a couple of important artists.”

The center announced the acquisition March 6. The materials were purchased by the University for $60,000 and hold a special connection to the school, as Wallach graduated from UT in 1936.

The couple’s marriage spanned 66 years and countless acting achievements, some of which are documented in the acquired materials. Clippings, photos, letters, home videos and awards provide a detailed look into the artistic process and lives of Wallach and Jackson.

“These papers supply the perspectives and experiences of actors, a perspective often harder to access than that of writers or directors,” said Charlotte Canning, a theatre and dance professor, in an email.

Wallach received an honorary Oscar in 2010, four years before his death. His wife, Jackson, died after him in April 2016.

“Both actors participated in some of the most important institutions and events of 20th century U.S. theater and film,” Canning said. “There were few aspects of performance in which they weren’t setting the bar for everyone else.”

Wilson said the decision to purchase the papers can be partly contributed to their link to current collections held by the center. The materials complement others in the center’s archives like those of Tennessee Williams and Robert De Niro.

“There were a lot of connections with other archives we have … (so) it was just a really good fit,” Wilson said.

The papers will be available for student use after a period of time, said public affairs representative Suzanne Krause.

“They do have to go through a cataloging process which could take several months and sometimes up to a year,” Krause said.

Krause said the collection arrived at the center in December, and is currently in the beginning stages of the cataloging process.