Skip to Main Content
Harry Ransom Center homepage

News Release — June 7, 2006

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

Actor, director, producer Robert De Niro has donated his collection of film-related materials to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

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 also 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."

"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. "With its emphasis on role development, from research to costume selection to performance, the De Niro collection will strengthen the Center's holdings in this field considerably as it gives scholars and students the opportunity to study a seminal figure in late 20th-century cinema."

The De Niro archive enhances the film collection at the Ransom Center, joining the archives of such film legends as David O. Selznick, Gloria Swanson and Ernest Lehman, and adding 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.

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."

"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 multi-disciplinary research value of the collection, from costume and apparel design to script analysis, will provide students and scholars with invaluable research and teaching tools. 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.

"We are pleased to build a partnership with these departments and strengthen the ties of the Center to the teaching and research mission of the university in these important areas," said Staley. "A bonus for us is the excitement and enthusiasm that this acquisition has generated on campus."

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 have funded acquisitions, exhibitions and lectures.

A selection of items from the De Niro collection will be on view in the Ransom Center's lobby through June 18. Once processed, cataloged and housed, the collection will be available for research.

Press Room Press Releases


Alyssa Morris
Communications & Marketing Manager