In 1953 Roman Holiday was released. A romantic comedy starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck and directed by William Wyler. It won three academy awards:
Best Costume Design
Great – the usual Hollywood story full of glitz and glamour. Ian McLellan Hunter the English screenwriter would have proudly held his academy award aloft and no doubt in the greatest Hollywood tradition thanked his entourage of fans and wept a few tears in joy…………and relief. Relief because he did not actually write the script.
Now in credit to Mr Hunter, he confessed, after the death of Dalton Trumbo, that he was not the writer of Roman Holiday, re-affirming the credit should go to Mr Trumbo. But why the need for deceit?
Dalton Trumbo was a member of “the Hollywood Ten” which in 1947 was a group of film professionals who refused to testify before the HUAC – the House Un-American Activities Committee during the times of McCarthyism. The committee at the time was investigating the prevalence of communism in the film industry. As a result, Dalton Trumbo was blacklisted in Hollywood , but was already a successful writer, with novels and screen credits to his name. So following Mr Hunter’s confession it materialized that Trumbo did receive at least part payment for his work, with Mr Hunter fronting the works officially and undertaking some re-writes.
In addition to acting as a “ghost writer” Mr Trumbo actually assumed a pseudonym “Robert Rich” and won a second academy award for the script of the film “The Brave One” (a 1956 film). At the Academy Award show Robert Rich did not show with it said that his wife was giving birth to their child – Cue the applause for the award and the arrival of a new born.
So Hollywood has seen it happen – author’s not who they are said to be – so why not in Shakespeare’s time? This argument is used very extensively in a book entitled Marlowe’s Ghost by Darly Pinksen with him quoting many other instances of writers being behind the scenes in Hollywood . So could this not be a parallel for Shakespeare? Edward De Vere was an aristocrat, and coudl not be SEEN to be a writer. Marlowe was a contentious writer and if the Marlovian theory of him having been exiled is correct would have presented a great argument.
Just to complete the Trumbo story in 1975 he was presented with a statuette for The Brave One by the Academy, and in 1993 Mr Trumbo’s wife accepted the academy award for Roman Holiday posthumously on behalf of her husband. The whole saga does beggar one question – if Mr Hunter had not confessed about frontin the writing of Roman Holiday- how would we have ever known the true author? It does make you think – doesn’t it? Given there are no confessions or documentary evidence is no proof for alternative authors of Shakespeare how do we actually prove it?
by Tim R Lea