Titles by the Author
Budd Schulberg was born in New York City in 1914, the son of film pioneer B.P. Schulberg, and was raised in Hollywood. Following his graduation from Dartmouth in 1936, he returned to Hollywood and followed in his father's footsteps as a screenwriter. During this period he sold a number of short stories, primarily concerning Hollywood life, to several magazines. One of these stories was an early version of what would later become the novel What Makes Sammy Run?
In 1941, at the age of 27, Schulberg achieved fame as the author of What Makes Sammy Run?, a novel which is still regarded as perhaps the definitive fictional study of Hollywood. Following the success of his first novel, Schulberg served in the Navy throughout World War II and was in charge of photographic evidence at the Nuremburg Trials. In 1947 he completed his second novel, The Harder They Fall, the study of a mob-controlled champion. In the early 1950s Schulberg used his interest in expertise in boxing as the boxing editor of Sports Illustrated.
In 1953 Schulberg wrote the original screenplay for the film On the Waterfront, for which he won an Academy Award. In 1955 he expanded this scenario into the novel Waterfront - a work that many critics found to be even better than the movie that preceded it.
Although he had been a member of the Communist Party in his youth, efforts of Party leaders to interfere with his writing of Sammy led to his break with what he called "American Commissars," when his first book appeared.
Schulberg specialized in writing fast-paced, unembellished accounts of society's darker side. He claims that his chief influences have been Mark Twain, Frank Norris, Upton Sinclair, Jack London, and John Steinbeck. Like the proletarian writers of the 1930s, he is committed to the social role of the novelist. "I believe the novelist should be an artist cum sociologist," he stated. "I think he should see his characters in a social perspective. I believe in art, but I dont' believe in art for art's sake."
All of Schulberg's novels deal, in some way , with the issue of sudden success or failure and its effect on the individual. Sammy Glick, Terry Malloy, Manley Halliday, the F. Scott Fitzgerald-type author of The Disenchanted (1950) all enabled Schulberg to examine the stresses that result from great success, or, in some cases, failure. Each of these characters illustrates his belief that "the seasons of success or failure are more violent in America than anywhere else."
While many critics including Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker have praised Schulberg for his power and integrity, some have faulted him for drawing on national prototypes and building toward dramatic climaxes that may reflect the influence of his Hollywood background. In any case, Schulberg has enjoyed a career of enormous popularity. His brilliant first novel remains unsurpassed as an examination of a hustling Hollywood, and in a larger sense, a hustling America. Waterfront has becoem an archetype of hard-bitten fiction, and did much to revive the dormant Proletarian tradition of socially conscious literature. Budd Schulberg has always been, and remains today, and important American author.