WGF Exhibits: Celebrating 50 Years of Hawaii Five-O

Fifty years ago this month, the very first episode of Hawaii Five-O (entitled “Cocoon”) aired on CBS as a two-hour television movie. Twelve seasons and one enormously catchy theme song later, the series became the longest-running procedural drama of its day. In turn, Hawaii, which had only become a state in 1959, gained many tourists from the mainland and around the world from the small-screen exposure.

Created by Leonard Freeman, the show’s concept—a small and scrappy unit of cops solving peculiar crimes in beautiful island locations—had so much fuel in its tank, the show still churns out stories in revival form on CBS today.

New in the display cases leading into the WGF Library is an exhibit honoring 50 Years of “Five-O” and the work of Mr. Freeman. The exhibit shines a light on the painstaking work that goes into developing a series from fledgling idea to a well-oiled story machine that keeps people delighted and engaged, all while simultaneously enriching our entertainment and cultural landscapes. Thanks to Rose Freeman who worked tirelessly to safeguard her husband’s creative legacy, this exhibit features 50 years of treasures.

The items on display include Mr. and Mrs. Freeman’s plane tickets for an initial research trip to Hawaii, scrapbook photos, correspondence, script pages, a piece of concept art from “Cocoon” and a letter from Rose Freeman to the producers of the new Hawaii Five-0, offering them her advice and encouragement. Also on display are a pitch document and annotated script pages from executive producer Peter Lenkov and the revival of Hawaii Five-0.

Archival materials are a kind of living road map for budding writers. From them we can glean inspiration, motivation and the knowledge that we can do it too. Writers engaging with this display can expect to find an elucidating paper trail behind 50 years of a beloved TV series. What could be more motivational when you’re walking into the front doors of a library to write your own film or television series?

So, hats off to Hawaii Five-O and special thanks to the Freeman Family and Peter M. Lenkov for loaning their materials for this exhibit. Catch it while it’s up and also check out our collection of original Hawaii Five-O scripts as part of the Leonard Freeman collection!

The Lone Arranger: Inside The Magic Cottage

In this new blog series, WGF Archivist Hilary Swett gives you a glimpse inside the WGF Archives, from newly unearthed treasures to her tips for preserving a writer’s collections. 

Hello there, boys and girls! In this age of reboots and re-imaginings, what’s old is new again. But back in the late 1940s, TV was just beginning and the landscape of shows and genres that we are so familiar with now were just being developed. Children’s shows are no exception. We all know the names of the famous shows and possibly grew up watching them—Howdy Doody, Captain Kangaroo, Mister Rogers Neighborhood, Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and more. These friendly adults taught us lessons on how to live and how to get along with one another. One of the earliest examples of this is the subject of today’s blog post. Kids visited faraway lands, encountered talking creatures and learned lessons via The Magic Cottage.

Creator Hal Cooper was a prolific television director and worked on every famous sitcom from the 1960s through the 1980s. But before this, he helped solidify a template for TV children’s shows that still exists today. Along with his first wife, Pat Meikle, they were hired by the now defunct DuMont Network to produce a show aimed at preschoolers called Your Television Babysitter. It aired weekday mornings and was intended to give mothers a half hour where they could do housework uninterrupted. This show was such a success that the network asked them to create another show for older kids, which aired during primetime. The Magic Cottage aired on DuMont from 1949-1952 and then locally on WABD in New York from 1953-1955. Pat Meikle hosted the show and all of the episodes were written and produced by Hal Cooper. Each episode began with the almanac segment—a fact from that day in history. Then the fun would start. Meikle would begin by sketching a scene for the audience, and then the characters and fantasy scenarios would be acted out onscreen.

This episode synopsis was created for publicity purposes. Don’t you want to know more about the adventures of Barnaby Bobble and Clutchwell T. Gluefinger?

A story was broken up to span the five days of the week and were always fantastic fables and fairy tales, some well-known and some made up for the series. Like shows of today, there would be a moral lesson embedded in the story. This was revealed on Fridays, accompanied by a short song.

The series stuck with this format throughout its run, with episodes broken into three basic segments.

In the beginning of TV, everything was performed live, so recordings, also known as kinescopes, are rare. Only two for The Magic Cottage are known to exist: one episode is at the UCLA Film and Television Archive and the other is located at the Paley Center for Media.

Magic Cottage merchandise

Fortunately, Hal Cooper’s family has just donated 1,000 scripts to the WGF Library and Archive. This collection contains scripts for every episode that aired from 1950-1955 when Cooper worked on the show, all of which were written by him. Aside from scripts, the collection contains a small assortment of merchandise created for the show called “premiums.” There are several children’s stationery sets, pins, and “encoded” messages from one of the show’s sponsors, the Cocoa Marsh snack company.

For those of you who want to write for children (or are young at heart), visit and peruse the Magic Cottage Collection to be steeped in fairy tales and get inspired to create your own fairy tale worlds. We have lots of current kids’ shows too—just take a look in the catalog! And to hear more anecdotes about the making of these shows, you can watch the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences oral history with Hal Cooper, recorded in 2003.

The Library also has a selection of other scripts for lost TV recordings. Check out:

  • My Living Doll – Several teleplays from this 1960s sitcom, including Episode 22, written and shot after the departure of star Bob Cummings
  • Major Dell Conway of the Flying Tigers – another DuMont series, from 1951
  • Curiosity Shop – A 1970s ABC children’s show from creator Chuck Jones (of Looney Tunes fame)
  • Meet Millie – a 1950s precursor to Mary Tyler Moore. Only a few episodes survive but we have 113 scripts!

Halloween Script Cavalcade: The Munsters

The following anecdote is from a development / pitch document for The Munsters (1964):

In honor of Halloween, I’m here to make a different kind of pitch for The Munsters. The WGF Archive recently processed a bounty of scripts and materials relating to the zany, ghoulish family. Most of this collection hails from Norm Liebmann who is credited with developing the show alongside his writing partner Ed Haas and creators Allan Burns & Chris Hayward. The Munsters collection is expansive and features many useful highlights like the aforementioned pitch document—items that will appeal to writers of all stripes as well as TV history fans and scholars.

Newspaper clippings from the collection tell us that The Munsters premiered on CBS the very same week in September as another show about a strange, macabre family living in a large and ominous house at the end of a suburban, neighborhood street. That other show was, of course, The Addams Family, which premiered on ABC. As it happens, Bewitched also made its series premiere that same fateful week. It might seem strange or coincidental for three shows of similar ilk and like themes to hit television airwaves within mere days of each other.

David Levy, creator of the TV Addams Family, didn’t seem to think so. In a Los Angeles Times article dated August 11th, 1964, Levy, a former head of programming at NBC, states that:

Ideas float like confetti over Madison Ave. and it is not surprising that when the time is right for a particular type of show that two networks might decide to go with it.

The 1960s in America became a time of counterculture and unprecedented pushes for civil rights. We can see this reflected in shows about unconventional families trying to assimilate with “normal” people in the suburbs. Indeed, the Munsters, the Addams, or Samantha Stephens become stand-ins for any group of people who might feel marginalized or on the outs in American society or family life, calling ideas of normalcy and conformity into question and possibly making an argument for wider acceptance.

In addition to commentary, the idea of monsters or a slightly off-beat, deathy family trying to interact with or fit in with regular folks produces a lot of comedy.

Shows like The Munsters gain legs on the strength of their concepts. What makes the WGF Archives’ Munsters collection so informative is that those who mine it for information and inspiration can see how a show evolves from mere idea to full-fledged television program—how it moves from a successful pitch to a TV microcosm that fans are able to relate to and take part in.

Munsters Concept Illustration, Norman Liebmann Collection, Writers Guild Foundation Archive

Liebmann & Haas put the concept across in such a cogent way on paper that one visualizes the series and how it will work on screen from week to week. Furthermore, most of the episodes from the show’s two-season run, are available as outlines, step outlines, rough drafts and final drafts so one can trace the full process of an episode’s writing. This kind of information can be helpful even to writers working in today’s current streaming atmosphere.

It’s particularly fascinating to examine the evolution of certain jokes within an episode. Having written for such late night and variety show luminaries as Johnny Carson and Jerry Lewis, Liebmann & Haas are quintessential joke masters with endless ideas brought forth onto the page and even more refinements. (See my earlier blog post about Liebmann’s contributions to The Roast of Bette Davis here).

No part of the writing and show-creating process is spared from this collection. In addition to scripts, there’s correspondence and notes from the show’s other writer/producers Joe Connelly & Bob Mosher who, prior to joining The Munsters, produced Amos ‘n Andy and Leave It to Beaver. Because Universal Studios produced The Munsters, the show had almost unfettered access to Universal’s most well-known scary creatures. This is the reason the show was able to include characters like Herman molded on Frankenstein or Grandpa molded on Dracula. In fact, the recognizability of such characters is a likely part of the show’s appeal.

Munsters Promotional Material, Norman Liebmann Collection, Writers Guild Foundation Archive

Norm Liebmann took great care to save most of his writing-related documents. The Munsters materials shine a light on everything from how the writers negotiated their contracts to how early Fred Gwynne had to be in his make-up chair every day on set. There’s even fun paraphernalia from the show’s fan clubs like this membership card from the The Jeepers Keepers Fan Club.

Norman Liebmann Collection, Writers Guild Foundation Library

It’s an ideal collection for anyone looking to gain a greater understanding of a classic sitcom’s evolution from script to screen. For more information on this collection and others available in the WGF Archive, please visit our website.

And if you’re looking for other spooky fair to get you in the mood for Halloween, try checking out some scripts from the library’s collection of features. We recommend:

  • John Carpenter‘s script for Halloween
  • Hocus Pocus written by Mick Garris and Neil Cuthbert
  • Charles Schultz‘s dialogue script for It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

WGF Archive: Roasting Bette Davis on The Dean Martin Show

In a recent episode of FX’s Feud, Bette Davis gets nominated for an Oscar for What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? eliciting extreme jealousy in her co-star Joan Crawford. As payback, Crawford conspires with gossip columnist Hedda Hopper against Davis by convincing two other Best Actress nominees that year – Geraldine Page and Anne Bancroft – to let her accept on their behalf should they win. The Oscar ultimately goes to Bancroft, so Crawford gets to saunter across stage to accept the award when Davis loses.

If you’re a fan of the rivalry depicted on Feud, a recent find from the WGF Archive might just pique your interest. In a trove of scripts from The Dean Martin Show, we discovered the “Celebrity Roast of Bette Davis.”

Drawing on the celebrity roasts that first appeared at the New York Friars Club in the early 1910s that later came to be broadcast on the Kraft Music Hall program in the late 60s and early 70s, The Dean Martin Show began celebrity roasts in 1973 with the “Roast of Johnny Carson” (a script we also have). Younger TV viewers might be familiar with roasts from when they were revived on Comedy Central with such celebrities as Joan Rivers, Bob Saget and Justin Bieber.

The format of a roast (think: the opposite of a “toast”) involves guests aiming insult comedy at a celebrity “roastee,” who sits back and takes jokes at their own expense with good grace – knowing that the mockery is meant as praise. Studying classic sketch comedy shows like roasts can be helpful to writers and researchers alike – offering a glimpse into the humor, hot topics, social attitudes and personalities of the era in which they were written. More than simply watching the show, reading the script reinforces the idea that the wit and jokes emanating from the famous faces actually begins with writers.

The Davis Roast includes lovingly insulting tributes from the likes of Pat Buttram, Nipsey Russell, Vincent Price, Henry Fonda, Howard Cosell as well as the roastmaster himself Dean Martin. Not to be outdone, Davis has a chance at rebuttal offering this gem, “I’ve certainly had a lot of fun tonight… It would have been nice to have some of my old male co-stars with me… but then, they’d have to hold the roast at the Hollywood Wax Museum!”

One of the more intriguing parts of the script finds gossip columnist Joyce Haber, who took over Hedda Hopper’s job at the LA Times in 1968, referring to events seen on Feud involving Oscar acceptances and marriages to Pepsi-Cola magnates…

This and many other Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts were found in the Norman Liebmann collection in our archive. Liebmann wrote on many a comedy / variety series in the 60s and 70s including The Jerry Lewis Show and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. No stranger to comedy, Liebmann is known for writing on sitcoms like Chico and the Man and Diff’rent Strokes as well as developing The Munsters with his longtime writing partner Ed Haas. Liebmann passed away in 2010. His personal papers were donated to the WGF Archive in 2015 and will continue to be processed this year.

Materials from the WGF Archive are available for viewing by both researchers and fans. Find more information here.

WGF Exhibits: The Life and Legacy of Mary McCall, Jr.

Debuting this week in the WGF exhibition cases at the WGAW Headquarters is a look at the life and legacy of screenwriter Mary McCall, Jr., the first woman president of the Screen Writers Guild.  The exhibition traces McCall’s story from her college days as editor of the student newspaper at Vassar through to her early success as a novelist and her career as a screenwriter in the 1930s and 1940s on such movies as Craig’s Wife, Maisie, The Sullivans, and Dancing in the Dark.

The exhibition also shines a light on McCall’s commitment to fighting for the rights of Hollywood’s writers.  Items on display include a ballot, photos and correspondence from the 1940s, when McCall was twice elected president of the SWG, and material from her controversial third term as president in 1951-52, at the height of the blacklisting era.  The exhibition explores how McCall stood up to studio head Howard Hughes when he insisted on denying credit to a writer who had appeared as an unfriendly witness before HUAC, damaging her own career in the process.

Included in the exhibition are rare photographs and personal items on loan from the Mary McCall, Jr. family, as well as materials from the WGF Archives and the Margaret Herrick Library.

Behind the scenes of the set of the film CRAIG’S WIFE (1936). From left, editor Viola Lawrence, star Rosalind Russell, screenwriter Mary McCall, Jr., and director Dorothy Arzner.

Last week, we celebrated women in writing

Last week we held a gathering in the library to celebrate women in writing – from the early days, when writers like Anita Loos, Dorothy Parker and Frances Marion reigned, to modern times, when writers like Robin Swicord (MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, LITTLE WOMEN) and Winnie Holzman (WICKED, MY SO-CALLED LIFE), Veena Sud (THE KILLING), Michelle Ashford (MASTERS OF SEX) and Terri Edda Miller (CASTLE) actually joined the celebration.

We’re always proud to celebrate the milestones made by writers of all stripes. In today’s industry climate, women are underrepresented in just about every profession, so it’s vital that the conversation continue.

And we were thrilled that so many writers and industry professionals showed up to help us celebrate. Take a look:

Georgia Jeffries, associate professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and a member of the WGF board of directors, speaks to the crowd.

Georgia Jeffries, associate professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and a member of the WGF board of directors, speaks to the crowd.

Robert Nelson Jacobs, WGF Board President, also addressed the crowd...

Robert Nelson Jacobs, WGF Board President, also addressed the crowd…


...as did WGF Executive Director Katie Buckland.

…as did WGF Executive Director Katie Buckland.

The crowd in question. The library was packed from wall to wall!

The crowd in question. The library was packed from wall to wall!

Everyone came to celebrate women in writing.

Everyone came to celebrate women in writing.

Drinks were served by scotch ambassador Martin Daraz.

Drinks were served by scotch ambassador Martin Daraz.

We were also joined by Miranda Banks, assistant professor at Emerson College's department of media and visual arts. Miranda is author of the book THE WRITERS: A HISTORY OF AMERICAN SCREENWRITERS AND THEIR GUILD, and performed much of her research for the book in the WGF Archive.

We were also joined by Miranda Banks, assistant professor at Emerson College’s department of media and visual arts. Miranda is author of the book THE WRITERS: A HISTORY OF AMERICAN SCREENWRITERS AND THEIR GUILD, and performed much of her research for the book in the WGF Archive.

We also featured an exhibit of archival materials spotlighting women in writing - like Lillian Hellman's original application to the Screen Writers Guild.

We also featured an exhibit of archival materials spotlighting women in writing – like Lillian Hellman’s original application to the Screen Writers Guild.

...And this letter to Mary O'Connor from the office of Cecil B. de Mille.

…And this letter to Mary O’Connor from the office of Cecil B. de Mille.


The Linda Woolverton Collection

Over the past year, we’ve been spending quite a bit of time with Linda Woolverton. We interviewed her at the 2014 Newport Beach Film Fest, then again at the 2014 Austin Film Fest, and she’s helped us give writing instruction and opportunities to deserving kids through Ghetto Film School. Oh, and she recently donated a screenwriter’s ransom in great materials to our archive.

If her name doesn’t ring a bell, Linda has written and contributed to many of Disney’s most enduring modern classics, like BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, MULAN, THE LION KING and more. She also wrote live-action Disney flicks like MALEFICENT and ALICE IN WONDERLAND (as well as its upcoming sequel).

The Linda Woolverton collection includes a wide array of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST materials, including handwritten notes from Jeffrey Katzenberg, a beat outline, character notes, and, presented here in part, an outline of the entire script.

Here are the final three pages of that outline, beginning with Beast’s efforts to woo Belle once he’s realized he’s in love with her, and including Belle’s release and the final battle between Beast and Gaston.

woolverton_5 woolverton_6 woolverton_7


To learn more about how you can view items the archive – and, remember, anyone can view these, not just WGA members – click here to contact our team.

Our Online Exhibits: BROADCAST QUALITY

In the days before our entertaining and information-rich blog – which you’re reading right this very second – we commonly posted collections of artifacts from our archive in online exhibits organized around a given theme. We’d focus on things like the early history of the Guild, or the long process of turning a set of notes scribbled on a legal pad into a final draft. We even designed a whole new way to flip through the images – all hi-res, of course – and annotate them.

Those exhibits were pretty cool, and we’re very proud of them.

But guess what? Through the magic of the internet, you can still visit those exhibits right here on our website. Because we still have them! See? Told you we were good at archiving.

Over the next few weeks we’ll take a look at each one in turn. This week we’ll focus on BROADCAST QUALITY, an exhibit that offers a look at scripts, pitches, notes and treatments from the top 20 shows in the WGA’s list of the 101 best-written television shows of all time.

Click here to just go on ahead and check out the exhibit. Once you’re in there, use the navigation arrows to flip between pages, and the little magnifying glass tool to zoom in and out.

Everything in the exhibit is just a sample of the physical items we have in the archive. From story notes for ALL IN THE FAMILY…

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..to the show bible for THE WIRE, where McNulty is referred to as McArdle…

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To script pages for amazing shows like ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT…

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Want to see more? We’ve got stuff from THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, M*A*S*H*, SEINFELD, HILL STREET BLUES, and much more.

Click here to check out the exhibit. Questions about our archive? Contact our archivists!



Our Amazing Historical Find: THE PHOTODRAMATIST

Here’s one for the Hollywood history geeks out there. We recently discovered this remarkably pristine copy of the first issue of THE PHOTODRAMATIST from July 1921. THE PHOTODRAMATIST – and we wouldn’t blame you for not knowing this, for reasons that’ll become clear soon – was the official publication of The Screen Writer’s Guild, or the organization that would later become the Writers Guild of America. It’s not in mint condition, but considering it’s nearly a century old, it’s pretty astonishing how well it still hangs together.

But the book’s condition pales in comparison to its role in the history of screenwriting. Prior to discovering this book, we believed THE SCREEN WRITER, which began publication in 1945, was the first official publication of the Guild. We also used to believe that the Guild only existed as a social club, and not as a professional organization for writers, before 1933 – but the existence of THE PHOTODRAMATIST proves otherwise.

Our library and archive director – herself an expert in Guild history – didn’t even know that the Screen Writer’s Guild was referred to as such before 1933. And then we discovered THE PHOTODRAMATIST. Here it is:


And here’s the proof, right on the second page, that it was the “Official Organ of the Screen Writer’s Guild of the Author’s League of America.” No giggling at the word “organ,” please:


Like most trade publications, PHOTODRAMATIST was packed with articles about the craft, as well as resources for writers looking for work, like this “photoplay market” listing:


And, of course, ads for courses and tools to make you a success in Hollywood:


…But unlike, say, Plumbing & Heating Contractor News, the Guild’s trade publication had poetry in it:


It even had a gossip section:


If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the WGA – and of screenwriting as a job, an industry and a craft – check out our archive.

The David Fury Collection

Last week’s GENRE SMASH! featured TV writer extraordinaire David Fury, who’s written for groundbreaking shows like BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, 24 and LOST – not to mention other great stuff like FRINGE and BUFFY spin-off ANGEL. We’ll have a podcast posted soon, but in the meantime, take a look at some of the incredible materials David donated to our library and archive! (UPDATE: Click here to listen to that podcast!)

Major and minor spoilers abound for BUFFY, ANGEL and 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY here, so as our friend Walter White might say: Tread lightly. 

First off is a draft of “Lies My Parents Told Me,” the 17th episode of the final season of BUFFY, featuring more of Spike’s backstory. Here are some images of the first page.




David also gave us his copy of “Parting Gifts,” the tenth episode of ANGEL’s first season. In the episode, Cordelia learns that the recently departed Doyle has passed on his clairvoyant abilities to her.



Note the silver brads. The BUFFY and ANGEL writers’ rooms used exclusively silver brads as an homage to the supernatural subject matter. No word on whether Seth Green had a problem with this.



David was invited to work on 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY, the recent chapter in the story of Jack Bauer’s series of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Here are some notes he put together at the beginning of the writing process for the show – note the early stages of modeling Chloe O’Brian’s character development after real-life hacker/journalist/political asylum enthusiast Julian Assange:



Finally, we have pre-production materials for “Walkabout,” the fourth episode of LOST, in which we learn that John Locke… well, if you’re still here, you know that Locke was in a wheelchair before his time on the island.

Locke hunts boar in that first episode, so David provided us with his research.



Here’s the first page of the outline.



Finally, here’s the episode’s reveal – again from the outline.


All these items are available in our archive.

Like I said, we’ll post the audio of our interview with David soon – he’s hilarious and charming, and if you’re a LOST fan, you’ll learn some pretty amazing stuff. Keep watching this site! And happy holidays!