Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Summer 2006 Newsletter

Robert De Niro Donates Collection of Film Materials to Harry Ransom Center


Hack license used in preparation for Taxi Driver (1976).
Robert De Niro Collection. Harry Ransom Center.

Actor, director, producer Robert De Niro has donated his complete collection of film-related materials to the Ransom Center.

With materials from the late 1960s to the present, the archive includes annotated scripts, notes, research materials, and an extensive collection of the costumes De Niro wore in his films.

The paper portion of the collection, more than 100 boxes, has considerable research value. It includes scripts and books with handwritten notations, correspondence with film notables such as Martin Scorsese and Elia Kazan, background research, and the notebooks De Niro kept of his films, all showing the evolution from text to moving image.

The costume portion of the collection includes more than 3,000 individual costume items, props from many of De Niro's films, and a full body cast used in the 1994 production of Frankenstein.

"One of the most important things about the Harry Ransom Center is that the material will be accessible to students and the public," said De Niro. "Ultimately, that's what it's all about."

The De Niro archive enhances the film collection at the Ransom Center and adds significantly to the Center's holdings in Hollywood filmmaking of the late 20th century. A fellowship will be established to support scholarly research in the collection.

"This acquisition broadens opportunities for scholars and students to study new areas of film, such as the actor's role in authorship," said Thomas F. Staley, Director of the Ransom Center.

De Niro is regarded as one of the greatest actors of his generation and a key figure in "The New Hollywood," an artistic renaissance that began in the late 1960s. He appeared in many of the period's key films: Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), The Godfather: Part II (1974), and The Deer Hunter (1978). De Niro has produced more than two dozen films since the late 1980s and directed A Bronx Tale (1993) and the soon to be released The Good Shepherd.


Shooting Script from The Deer Hunter (1978).
Robert De Niro Collection. Harry Ransom Center.

"De Niro is renowned for the meticulous research he puts into each role, and all that material is present in the collection: books, manuscripts, costumes, interviews, photographs, videotapes—everything," said Steve Wilson, Associate Curator of the Ransom Center's film collection. "The collection is awe-inspiring in its depth and scope. I know of no other actor's archive that is as large and comprehensive as this one."

The university's Department of Human Ecology in the College of Natural Sciences, the Department of Radio-Television-Film in the College of Communication, and the Department of Theatre and Dance in the College of Fine Arts have all expressed excitement about using the collection.

The departments of Human Ecology and Theatre and Dance are especially interested in the costume portion of the collection. Costume selection is an integral part of De Niro's process of character development, and thus the wardrobe component of the archive is remarkably rich.

Fred Heath, Vice Provost and Director of University of Texas Libraries, offered assistance with the housing of the costume portion of the collection.

Another key figure in this acquisition is George Mitchell, President of University Co-op. Mitchell has agreed to support the preservation and housing of the costumes and display some of the collection materials in the Co-op's gallery. Mitchell and the Co-op's support of the Ransom Center has funded acquisitions, exhibitions, and lectures.

Select items from the De Niro collection were on view in the Ransom Center's lobby in June. Once processed, cataloged, and housed, the collection will be available for research.  

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