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David O. Selznick:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Selznick, David O., 1902-1965
Title: David O. Selznick Collection
Dates: 1904-1980 (bulk 1936-1955)
Extent: 4,674 document boxes, plus 428 oversize or custom boxes, 147 music folders, 6 galley folders, 101 sound discs, 155 bound volumes, and 35 flat file drawers (2,388 linear feet)
Abstract: Contains records documenting every aspect of David O. Selznick's Hollywood studio operations including script development, production, publicity, finances, and distribution. The records follow film's pioneer days in New York through the heyday of the studio system in Hollywood, to the rise of television. Besides Selznick's independent productions such as A Star is Born (1937), Gone With the Wind (1939), and Rebecca (1940), the archive documents his association with three major studios, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount, and RKO.
Call Number: Film Collection FI-034
Language: English

Open for research. A limited amount of sensitive material has been restricted by the family.


Purchase and gift, 1981-1995

Processed by:

Gwyneth Cannan and Kinga Perzynska, with assistance from Jan Root, Hope Kelley, Abby Weinhauer, David Sparks, and Bob Taylor, 1988-1992

Repository: :

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center

David O. Selznick (1902-1965) began his film career working for his father's production companies. In 1926 he joined MGM as a reader and quickly rose to assistant producer. Two years later, Selznick left MGM to become executive assistant at Paramount. In 1931 he moved to RKO as vice president in charge of production. He returned to MGM in 1933 and there produced such films as Dinner at Eight (1933), David Copperfield (1935), Anna Karenina (1935), and A Tale of Two Cities (1935).

Selznick, in partnership with John Hay( "Jock") Whitney, formed his first independent film production company, Selznick International Pictures (SIP), in 1935. Movies produced under the SIP aegis include A Star is Born (1937), The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), Nothing Sacred (1937), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938), and Gone With the Wind (1939). Selznick was responsible for bringing the Swedish actress, Ingrid Bergman, and the British director, Alfred Hitchcock, to Hollywood. Hitchcock directed Rebecca (1940), Spellbound (1945), and Notorious (1946) while under contract to Selznick.

Selznick began liquidation of Selznick International Pictures in 1940 for tax reasons, but reorganized and continued producing films as an independent. He also supported his enterprise by selling developed projects and loaning out his contract stars to other studios. In 1946, Selznick created his own distribution company, Selznick Releasing Organization (SRO). He entered into European coproduction beginning with The Third Man (1950), and he produced a live television special celebrating the 60th anniversary of electricity, Light's Diamond Jubilee, in 1954. A Farewell to Arms (1957) marked the last film Selznick personally produced, though he continued to keep an active interest in the film business until his death in 1965.

David O. Selznick was the son of pioneer film producer Lewis J. Selznick and the brother of Hollywood talent agent Myron Selznick. He married Irene Gladys Mayer, the daughter of MGM head Louis B. Mayer, in 1930. In 1949, after his first marriage had ended in divorce, Selznick married Jennifer Jones, an actress who starred in several of his productions including Duel in the Sun (1946) and Portrait of Jennie (1948). Selznick had two sons by his first marriage, Lewis Jeffrey (1932-) and Daniel Mayer (1936- ), and one daughter by his second marriage, Mary Jennifer (1954-1976).

Behlmer, Rudy, ed. Memo from David O. Selznick. New York: The Viking Press, 1972.

Haver, Ronald. David O. Selznick's Hollywood. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980.

Leff, Leonard J. Hitchcock and Selznick. New York: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1987.

Schatz, Thomas. The Genius of the System. New York: Pantheon Books, 1988.

Selznick, Irene Mayer. A Private View. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983.

Thomas, Bob. Selznick. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1970.

Thomson, David. Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Appendices in this finding aid with further information:

  • A. Selznick Companies and Personnel List
  • B. The Films of David O. Selznick, 1924-1957, Chronological List
  • C. The Films of David O. Selznick, 1924-1957, Alphabetical List
  • D. The Films of David O. Selznick, 1924-1957, Film Credits List

Scope and Contents

The David O. Selznick Collection contains records documenting every aspect of his Hollywood studio operations including script development, production, publicity, finances, and distribution. The major part of the records span the years 1916 to 1966 which correspond to film's pioneer days in New York through the heyday of the studio system in Hollywood, to the rise of television. Selznick was employed at three major studios, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Paramount, and RKO. As an independent, his credits include A Star Is Born (1937), Gone With the Wind (1939), and Rebecca (1940). Selznick played out his activities against the backdrop of censorship under the Hays Office, the hardship of the Depression, the impact of World War II, and the paranoia of America's "red scare." The collection covers the years from 1904 to 1980 with most of the material dating from the mid 1930s through the mid 1950s.

The records are arranged in thirteen series based on the departmental division of the studio: Administrative, Casting, Distribution, Financial, Legal, Lewis J. Selznick (LJS), London, Music, Production, Publicity, Research, Story, Talent, and a fourteenth series, Gifts, that includes materials donated by Selznick's family. The physical order of the records was disturbed over the years and the present arrangement is an attempt to restore the materials to the original order as represented by the inventory list (Bekins list) that came with the collection.

The collection comprises all the types of materials one would expect to be generated by a film studio, including appointment books, audio recordings, awards, balance sheets, call sheets, clippings, correspondence, journal vouchers, ledgers, memos, minutes, music, notebooks, photographic prints and negatives, posters, props, realia, scrapbooks, scripts, set and costume designs, story boards, and telegrams. Through analysis of the above materials, one can trace the evolution of a film such as Gone With the Wind from story purchase through script development, casting, design, production, exploitation, distribution, and reissue. Though most of the material represents Selznick's independent career, there are also records from his father's companies, from his employment at the RKO, Paramount, and MGM studios, and materials concerning his personal affairs. There is documentation not only of the movies Selznick produced outright, but also of those he developed and sold, as well as those never realized.

The collection touches on virtually every major Hollywood person, studio, and event of Selznick's day. Persons represented in the collection include, but are not limited to:

  • Writers, including Truman Capote, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gene Fowler, Oliver H. P. Garrett, Graham Greene, Ben Hecht, Sidney Howard, Aldous Huxley, Ring Lardner, Jr., Dorothy Parker, Robert E. Sherwood, Budd Schulberg, Peter Viertel, and Hugh Walpole;
  • Musicians, including Bernard Herrmann, Oscar Levant, Miklos Rozsa, Max Steiner, Dimitri Tiomkin, and Franz Waxman;
  • Producers, including Samuel Goldwyn, Mark Hellinger, Alexander Korda, and Louis B. Mayer; directors Frank Capra, George Cukor, Vittorio De Sica, Victor Fleming, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, John Huston, Carol Reed, King Vidor and William A. Wellman;
  • Actors, including Ethel, John, and Lionel Barrymore, Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Montgomery Clift, Claudette Colbert, Ronald Colman, Joseph Cotten, Olivia de Havilland, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Fontaine, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Janet Gaynor, Lillian Gish, Cary Grant, Leslie Howard, Rock Hudson, Jennifer Jones, Louis Jourdan, Vivien Leigh, Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Hattie McDaniel, Dorothy McGuire, Laurence Olivier, Gregory Peck, Basil Rathbone, Ginger Rogers, Shirley Temple, Alida Valli, and Orson Welles.

Series & Subseries Outline

The number of boxes given for each series and subseries is approximate.

    1. Administrative, 1915-1973, 1093.5 boxes
    1A. David O. Selznick, 1915-1973, 843 boxes
    1A1. Chronological Files, 1961-1963, 9.5 boxes
    1A2. Clippings, 1938-1973, 5 boxes
    1A3. Confidential Files, 1933-1965, 17.5 boxes
    1A4. Consolidated Files, 1930-1967, 49 boxes
    1A5. Coproductions, Loanouts, 1939-1963, 8.5 boxes
    1A6. Correspondence, 1962-1965, 20 boxes
    1A7. Daily Calendars, 1935-1965, 6 boxes
    1A8. Directors & Producers, 1936-1962, 9.5 boxes
    1A9. Early Career, 1915-1924, 2.5 boxes
    1A10. Financial, 1928-1958, 15 boxes
    1A11. InterOffice Files, 1944-1963, 72.5 boxes
    1A12. Legal Files, 1936-1943, 3 boxes
    1A13. MGM Files, 1926-1936, 11.5 boxes
    1A14. Myron Selznick Estate, 1944-1963, 13.5 boxes
    1A15. Organization, 1936-1966, 91 boxes
    1A16. Paramount Files, 1928-1931, 6.5 boxes
    1A17. Personal Files, 1915-1966, 54 boxes
    1A18. Productions, 1923-1958, 123 boxes
    1A19. RKO Files, 1931-1933, 1 box
    1A20. Safe Deposit Files, 1931-1967, 1.5 boxes
    1A21. Selznick International Pictures, 1935-1940, 41.5 boxes
    1A22. Stills (Photographs), [19--]-1965, 10.5 boxes
    1A23. Story Files, 1935-1967, 74.5 boxes
    1A24. Studio Files, 1931-1964, 102.5 boxes
    1A25. Talent Files, 1936-1963, 31.5 boxes
    1A26. Telegrams, 1938-1963, 58 boxes
    1A27. Tower Grove, 1953-1955, 2 boxes
    1A28. Writers, 1936-1965, 5 boxes
    1B. Daniel T. O'Shea, 1936-1951, 146.5 boxes
    1C. Harriett Flagg, 1935-1945, 9 boxes
    1D. Henry Ginsberg, 1936-1939, 1 box
    1E. Shirley Harden, 1936-1963, 43 boxes
    1F. John Houseman, 1941, 3 boxes
    1G. Selznick International Pictures, 1936-1941, 5 boxes
    1H. John Speaks, 1933-1936, 10 boxes
    1I. Louis T. Stone, 1950-1951, 9.5 boxes
    1J. Vanguard Films, 1946-1948, 2 boxes
    1K. Bob Whitehead, 1957-1972, 5 boxes
    1L. John Hay Whitney, 1935-1936, 2.5 boxes
    1M. John Zinn, 1943-1944, 5 boxes
    1N. Miscellaneous, 1942-1956, 9 boxes


    2. Casting, 1943-1949, 35.5 boxes


    3. Distribution, 1936-1967, 247.5 boxes
    3A. Neil Agnew, 1944-1948, 21 boxes
    3B. David I. Bursten, 1948-1951, 23.5 boxes
    3C. Lowell V. Calvert, 1936-1940, 1.5 boxes
    3D. Leonard R. Case, 1946-1951, 42 boxes
    3E. Frank I. Davis, 1948-1958, 49 boxes
    3F. Sidney G. Deneau, 1947-1950, 7 boxes
    3G. Howard Fessenden, 1948-1950, 1.5 boxes
    3H. Betty Goldsmith, 1936-1958, 47 boxes
    3I. Milton S. Kusell, 1945-1947, 5 boxes
    3J. Ben Seigel, 1956-1957, 4 boxes
    3K. Selznick Releasing Organization, 1948-1950, 2.5 boxes
    3L. Samuel S. Sigman, 1947-1961, 3 boxes
    3M. Miscellaneous, 1937-1967, 40.5 boxes


    4. Financial, 1926-1969, 846.5 boxes
    4A. E. L. Scanlon, 1926-1953, 126 boxes
    4B. E. R. Beaman, 1936-1967, 269 boxes
    4C. Joyce Allen, 1936-1943, 13.5 boxes
    4D. John K. Brent, 1942-1951, 3.5 boxes
    4E. Dorothy Chambers, 1942-1958, 10 boxes
    4F. David O. Selznick Productions (DOSP), 1940-1942, 6 boxes
    4G. George R. Doan, 1938-1951, 7 boxes
    4H. Robert C. Hagstrom, 1947-1966, 45.5 boxes
    4I. Maurice Janov, 1938-1950, 12 boxes
    4J. Alwin Johnson, 1928-1939, 2 boxes
    4K. Cherie Leslie, 1938, 1 box
    4L. Marjorie MacDougall, 1964-1962, 13 boxes
    4M. A. Morgan Maree, 1944-1959, 7.5 boxes
    4N. Anne Paulos, 1953-1967, 82.5 boxes
    4O. Pioneer Pictures, 1933-1934, 1 box
    4P. M. E. Poole, 1942-1950, 17 boxes
    4Q. Selznick Company, 1954-1966, 3 boxes
    4R. Selznick International Pictures, 1935-1942, 41 boxes
    4S. Selznick Releasing Organization (SRO), 1947-1957, 10.5 boxes
    4T. Selznick Studio, 1942-1960, 17.5 boxes
    4U. Bruce Sillery, 1944-1951, 6.5 boxes
    4V. Vanguard Films, 1940-1951, 89.5 boxes
    4W. Thomas L. Walker, 1950-1969, 21.5 boxes
    4X. Miscellaneous, 1929-61, 40.5 boxes


    5. Legal, 1935-1966, 322.5 boxes
    5A. Consolidated, 1936-1966, 216 boxes
    5B. Robert H. Dann, 1936-1952, 28.5 boxes
    5C. Charlotte Gilbert, 1956-1958, 9 boxes
    5D. Helen Leonard, 1956-1965, 34 boxes
    5E. John Speaks, 1935-1936, 6.5 boxes
    5F. Miscellaneous, 1936-1958, 28.5 boxes


    6. Lewis J. Selznick, 1916-1923, 75 boxes


    7. London, 1937-1967, 181.5 boxes
    7A. Jenia Reissar, 1937-1954, 108 boxes
    7B. Anthony Downing, 1947-1955, 30.5 boxes
    7C. William H. Erbb, 1947-1948, 2.5 boxes
    7D. Victor J. Hoare, 1947-1956, 40.5 boxes


    8. Music, 1934-1957, 116 boxes, 147 music folders
    8A. Films, 1934-1954, 83 boxes
    8B. Lou Forbes, 1934-1944, 5.5 boxes
    8C. Audray Granville, 1945-1947, 2.5 boxes
    8D. Miscellaneous, 1944-1957, 5 boxes


    9. Production, 1920-1958, 213.5 boxes
    9A. Cecil Barker, 1946-1954, 16 boxes
    9B. Arthur Fellows, 1946-1954, 10.5 boxes
    9C. Hal C. Kern, 1937-1948, 11 boxes
    9D. Raymond A. Klune, 1936-1942, 16.5 boxes
    9E. Argyle Nelson, 1944-1948, 22 boxes
    9F. Phil L. Ryan, 1935-1936, 3.5 boxes
    9G. Clarence Slifer, 1935-1951, 72 boxes
    9H. James G. Stewart, 1945-1954, 9.5 boxes
    9I. Stills (Photographs), 1930-57, 45 boxes
    9J. Miscellaneous, 1920-1957, 7.5 boxes


    10. Publicity, 1934-1957, 267.5 boxes
    10A. Stills (Photographs), 1935-1957, 154 boxes
    10B. Aileen Brenon, 1947-1950, 7.5 boxes
    10C. Robert M. Gilham, 1944-1950, 17.5 boxes
    10D. Mervin J. Houser, 1946-1957, 29 boxes
    10E. Don King, 1943-1945, 5.5 boxes
    10F. Joan Lane, 1945-1948, 2.5 boxes
    10G. Paul Macnamara, 1941-1949, 8 boxes
    10H. Joseph L. Roberts, 1945-1948, 6 boxes
    10I. Seymour Robins, 1948-1949, 9 boxes
    10J. Selznick International Pictures (SIP), 1937-1938, 3 boxes
    10K. Bart Sheridan, 1946-1949, 7 boxes
    10L. Paul Snell, 1934-1936, 6 boxes
    10M. Vanguard Films, 1943-1948, 1.5 boxes
    10N. Miscellaneous, 1937-1954, 11 boxes


    11. Research, 1930-1954, 53 boxes
    11A. Lillian K. Deighton, 1936-1940, 14 boxes
    11B. Ann Harris, 1936-1950, 15 boxes
    11C. Miscellaneous, 1930-1954, 24 boxes


    12. Story, 1930-1965, 1012 boxes
    12A. Katharine Brown, 1940-1942, 12.5 boxes
    12B. Gerry Deardorff, 1938-1948, 12.5 boxes
    12C. Helena L. Hanna, 1945-1948, 8 boxes
    12D. Barbara Keon, 1936-1948, 150.5 boxes
    12E. Val Lewton, 1935-1942, 22.5 boxes
    12F. Margaret McDonell, 1935-1945, 6 boxes
    12G. Elsa Neuberger, 1935-1949, 11.5 boxes
    12H. Lydia Schiller, 1936-1957, 54.5 boxes
    12I. Scripts, 1932-1958, 305 boxes
    12J. Nancy Stern, 1950-1957, 11.5 boxes
    12K. Synopses, 1935-1962, 366 boxes
    12L. Miscellaneous, 1930-1965, 51.5 boxes


    13. Talent, 1945-1949, 18 boxes


    14. Gifts, 1904-1980, 34 boxes

The Ransom Center also holds closely related collections of materials for Jeffrey Selznick, Lewis J. Selznick, Myron Selznick, and John Hay( "Jock") Whitney. Film media holdings include complete 35mm safety film prints of Duel in the Sun, King Kong, Little Women, Rebecca, and Notorious, as well as videotape copies of several Selznick films. Nitrate film for Gone With the Wind, Rebecca, A Star is Born, Intermezzo, and Duel In The Sun is located at George Eastman House.

See also the extensive Gone With the Wind   online exhibition, which details the book purchase, the search for Scarlett, and costumes and makeup.

In the mid 1950s, Selznick made the decision to store his voluminous inactive files at the Bekins Storage Company. Periodically thereafter, the files were boxed for shipment in the order they were removed from the file cabinets, department by department, and an inventory list was maintained.

This inventory list (hereafter referred to as the Bekins list) was used during cataloging to reconstruct the physical order in which the files were retired. A copy of the Bekins storage list is available to researchers. This list can aid the understanding of the current physical arrangement of the materials, and at times provide additional information about the materials.

The processed boxes and folders were described in 14,498 catalog records. Series and file group names were added to each of these records in order to facilitate access to the original departmental or creator groupings of the materials. Thus, while the physical arrangement of the collection does not necessarily always reflect the intellectual arrangement by series, the catalog records provide the means to search for related materials that are physically scattered and view them in a selected order.

The catalog records were previously available in the University’s online library catalog, UTCAT or UTNetCat, the World Wide Web version of UTCAT. The records are now available in a separate Selznick Collection Database. The data remains the same and is searchable by any field or combination of fields. Search results may then be sorted by any of the fields. The information contained in a typical record is as follows:


Call number:   184 11, the current box number followed by the relevant folder number.

Series:   ADMINISTRATIVE: Name of series.

File creator:   SELZNICK, DAVID O., 1902-1965. Person within the organization who created and/or maintained the records described in the title.

File title & description:   PRODUCTION FILES, type of material contained in the box; 1936- 1942, date span for this box and related files or boxes; GONE WITH THE WIND FIRE SEQUENCE, file name or description of contents of the specific folder.

File year/span:   1939, date specific to this file.

BK number:   BK359, the box number in which the file was originally stored. BK codes used include:


BK# -- The main studio inventory of retired files (Bekins list). BK* indicates that the Bekins number is unknown.

LN# -- Files shipped from the London office.

FC# -- Represents files active at the time of Selznick's death and shipped in file cabinets for storage at Bekins. Also includes files not inventoried on the main Bekins list (e.g., New York files, legal files).

DN -- Additions to the collection after 1981, the year the bulk of the material was received by the Ransom Center.



Barrymore, Ethel, 1879-1959

Barrymore, John, 1882-1942

Barrymore, Lionel, 1878-1954

Bergman, Ingrid, 1915-

Boyer, Charles, 1899-1978

Capote, Truman, 1924-

Capra, Frank, 1897-

Clift, Montgomery

Colbert, Claudette

Coleman, Ronald, 1891-1958

Cotten, Joseph, 1905-

Cukor, George Dewey, 1899-

De Havilland, Olivia

De Sica, Vittorio, 1901-1974

Dietrich, Marlene

Fitzgerald, F. Scott (Francis Scott), 1896-1940

Fleming, Victor, 1883-1949

Fontaine, Joan, 1917-

Ford, John, 1894-1973

Fowler, Gene, 1890-1960

Gable, Clark, 1901-1960

Garbo, Greta, 1905-

Garrett, Oliver H. P. (Oliver Hart Palmer), 1897-1952

Gaynor, Janet

Gish, Lillian, 1896-

Goldwyn, Samuel, 1882-1974

Grant, Cary, 1904-

Greene, Graham, 1904-

Hecht, Ben, 1893-1964

Hellinger, Mark, 1903-1947

Hepburn, Katharine, 1909-

Herrmann, Bernard, 1911-1975

Hitchcock, Alfred, 1899-

Howard, Leslie, 1893-1943

Howard, Sidney Coe, 1891-1939

Hudson, Rock, 1925-1985

Huston, John, 1906-

Huxley, Aldous, 1894-1963

Jones, Jennifer, 1919-

Jourdan, Louis

Korda, Alexander, Sir, 1893-1956

Lardner, Ring, 1915-

Leigh, Vivien, 1913-1967

Levant, Oscar, 1906-1972

Lombard, Carole, 1908-1942

Loy, Myrna, 1905-

March, Fredric, 1897-

Mayer, Louis B. (Louis Burt), 1885-1957

McDaniel, Hattie, 1895-1952

McGuire, Dorothy, 1918-

Olivier, Laurence, 1907-

Parker, Dorothy, 1893-1967

Peck, Gregory, 1916-

Rathbone, Basil, 1892-1967

Reed, Carol, 1906-

Rogers, Ginger, 1911-

Rozsa, Miklos, 1907-

Schulberg, Budd

Selznick, Irene Mayer, 1907-

Selznick, Lewis J

Selznick, Myron, 1898-1944

Sherwood, Robert E. (Robert Emmet), 1896-1955

Steiner, Max, 1888-1971

Temple, Shirley, 1928-

Tiomkin, Dimitri

Valli, Alida, 1921-

Vidor, King, 1894-1982

Viertel, Peter

Walpole, Hugh, Sir, 1884-1941

Waxman, Franz, 1906-1967

Welles, Orson, 1915-

Wellman, William Augustus, 1896-

Whitney, John Hay


David O. Selznick Productions


Paramount Pictures

Pioneer Pictures

RKO Pictures

Selznick Company

Selznick International Pictures

Selznick Releasing Organization

Selznick Studios

Vanguard Films


Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Motion picture)

Anna Karenina (Motion picture)

Duel in the Sun (Motion picture)

Farewell to Arms (Motion picture)

Garden of Allah (Motion picture)

Gone With the Wind (Motion picture)

Intermezzo (Motion picture)

Nothing Sacred (Motion picture)

Paradine Case (Motion picture)

Portrait of Jennie (Motion picture)

Rebecca (Motion picture)

Since You Went Away (Motion picture)

Spellbound (Motion picture)

Star Is Born (Motion picture: 1937)

Tale of Two Cities (Motion picture)

Archives, motion picture

Film adaptations

Motion picture actors and acting

Motion picture industry

Motion picture music

Motion picture producers and directors

Motion picture studios

Motion picture--Archival resources

Motion pictures--History

Motion pictures--Production and direction

Motion pictures--United States


Theatrical producers and directors--United States

Document Types

Accident reports

Account books

Address books


Appointment books


Audio tapes


Balance sheets

Bank statements


Bidding documents


Bonds (financial records)

Book reviews

Bookkeeping records

Business cards



Case files


Christmas cards

Composition sketches

Contact prints

Contact sheets


Divorce records


Estate records

Film reviews

Film stills

Financial records

Galley proofs

Government contracts


Insurance records



Legal documents

Mailing lists





Notarial documents



Payroll records


Personnel records

Photograph albums







Radio scripts



Sales records

School records





Sheet music





Tax records

Tear sheets






More detailed box and folder level descriptions are available in a searchable database .