Hippie superannuated leprechaun: Waldo Salt, screenwriting and the Hollywood Renaissance

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Drawing on a range of draft scripts, correspondences, notes, trade and mainstream press reports, this essay examines the career of screenwriter Waldo Salt in the years surrounding the development and release of Midnight Cowboy (1969). While much literature has discussed Salt’s communist affiliations and writing under a pseudonym for 1950s television, his ‘rebirth’ as one of Hollywood’s most sought after screenwriters in the late 1960s and 1970s has received less detailed attention. Situating unproduced screenplays Don Quixote (1965-66) and The Artful Dodger (1967-68) as well as his acclaimed work on Midnight Cowboy within broader industrial, political and cultural developments of the period, I explore the ways in which Salt’s writing and public persona responded to broader discourses then impacting upon screenwriters. In doing so, the essay reflects on key issues related to screenwriting during the late 1960s and 1970s ‘Hollywood Renaissance’, a period of film history still largely defined by a focus on a small group of ‘superstar’ auteur directors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-270
JournalHistorical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
Issue number2
Early online date14 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Waldo Salt
  • Screenwriting
  • Hollywood Renaissance
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • Politics
  • 1960s Hollywood


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