This spring the Ransom Center announced its acquisition of the remarkable archive of actor Robert De Niro. A gift from De Niro, the collection includes not only annotated scripts, notes, research materials, and video and audio recordings, but also an extensive collection of the costumes he wore.
It is an important collection in our cultural history. De Niro appeared in key films of the Hollywood renaissance of the 1960s, and his influence and artistic excellence continue today. De Niro is one of the most celebrated actors in America, and the roles he has portrayed in such iconic films as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Deer Hunter have become touchstones of our culture.
Through De Niro's extensive notes and research materials, one can see the vital creative process—how he transformed words into live action, how he crossed genres, moving from script to screen. The collection will garner both scholarly and popular interest, but perhaps most exciting for us is the enthusiasm it has generated on campus, especially among departments not traditionally associated with our collections. The Department of Human Ecology, which has the only graduate program in the region in clothing conservation, and the Costume Technology program in the Department of Theatre and Dance will be given unprecedented access to the collection for use in teaching costume design and textile conservation. These departments will also work with the Center on the long-term conservation needs of the costumes. We are pleased to build a partnership with these departments and strengthen the ties of the Ransom Center to the teaching mission of the University. Another key player in this acquisition was George Mitchell of the University Co-Op, who has generously agreed to help support the care and conservation of the costumes.
The acquisition of De Niro's archive enhances a remarkably strong film collection at the Ransom Center. His materials will join the archives of such film notables as David O. Selznick, Gloria Swanson, Steve Martin, and Ernest Lehman. De Niro will also support a research fellowship in film, and he will visit the Center in 2007 to celebrate both the acquisition and our 50th anniversary.
Every summer, friends and members of the Ransom Center ask me for book recommendations as they put together their summer reading lists. I read less contemporary fiction than I once did, but many of our staff members follow current literature closely. With this newsletter, we begin a new column that will feature recommendations of contemporary works. Happy reading.
—Thomas F. Staley