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University of Texas at Austin

Ray Walston:

A Preliminary Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator Walston, Ray, 1914-
Title Ray Walston Papers 1938-1995
Dates: 1938-1995
Extent 10 boxes, 6 oversize boxes, 1 oversize flat file folder (7.9 linear feet)
Abstract: This collection contains productions and career-related papers and memorabilia from this noted American actor.
Language English.
Access Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition Gift no. 10741
Processed by Liz Murray, 1997

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

This collection of papers and memorabilia of actor Ray Walston reflects his sixty years on stage, screen, and television, appearing with actors such as Imogene Coca, Bing Crosby, Shelley Duval, Clint Eastwood, Maurice Evans, Jane Fonda, Mitzi Gaynor, Cary Grant, Van Johnson, Janet Leigh, Jack Lemmon, Jerry Lewis, Bela Lugosi, Shirley MacLaine, John Malkovich, Jayne Mansfield, Mary Martin, Lee Marvin, Agnes Moorehead, Sean Penn, Anthony Perkins, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Seberg, Gwen Verdon, Robert Wagner, Robin Williams, and Shelley Winters. While Walston directed some plays in the course of his career, his acting was guided by directors such as George Abbott ( Damn Yankees and Me and Juliet), Robert Altman ( Popeye), Joshua Logan ( South Pacific and Paint Your Wagon), and Billy Wilder ( Kiss Me, Stupid). The papers are arranged in two series: Productions and Career-Related Material.
In the first and largest series, Productions, most of Walston's acting appearances are represented, arranged alphabetically by production. This material includes mostly publicity clippings, but also some correspondence, telegrams, scores, playbills, programs, contracts, photographs, and scripts, especially from the Picket Fences television series. During the early years of his career (ca. 1938-53), Walston maintained scrapbooks that document his appearances in plays and musicals. After that time, clippings were collected, but not arranged in scrapbooks. Walston's roles vary from star performances to cameo appearances as his career moved from the early days with Margo Jones in Houston to the Cleveland Play House to Broadway, London, and beyond, ending with his role in Picket Fences. His two most popular musicals, South Pacific and Damn Yankees are particularly well represented. Clippings of a general nature, not associated with a particular production, are foldered by decade at the end of the chronological series.
Career-related material in Series II include clippings, photographs, and programs regarding Walston's awards: the 1949 Clarence Derwent Award for the best non-featured performance in Summer and Smoke, the 1956 Tony Award for his role in Damn Yankees, the 1989 Saturn Life Career Award, and 1994 Emmy nomination for Picket Fences. Civic awards and certificates are also included. A small amount of biographical material exists, as well as a few travel receipts, holograph notes, menus, real estate multiple listings, and an issue of Linotype's Shining Lines, reminiscent of Walston's early career as a linotypist and reporter. The correspondence includes fan mail, personal notes, postcards, and telegrams of a general nature from 1943-1988. Correspondents include director Josh Logan. Of special interest is a telegram from Princess Margaret at the time of her father's death in February 1952. The King accompanied the royal family to a performance of South Pacific at Drury Lane the week before his death.
Clippings regarding Walton's wife Ruth and daughter Katharine Ann ("Kate"), along with a small amount of Kate's school-related material, are found in this series. Informal and publicity photographs are also present, in addition to the stills and production photographs included in Series I. Walston collected a sizeable number of programs and playbills from London performances during his 1951-52 South Pacific engagement, as well as smaller amount of domestic programs and tributes to personalities such as Helen Hayes and Joshua Logan. Scores not included in Series I are present here, especially songs from Mary Poppins which Walston recorded in 1964.
The collection is in good condition except for tape damage and some brittle scrapbook material. Two items received with the papers have been transferred to HRHRC's personal effects collection: Walston's brass name plate from his dressing room door at London's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the 1992-93 Viewers For Quality Television award for "Best Specialty Player, Quality TV Series" ( Picket Fences). VHS videos of numerous Picket Fences episodes, My Favorite Martian episodes, a 1994 TNT "Happy Birthday Ray Walston" tribute, plus Damn Yankees, The Sting, and Stephen King's The Stand were transferred to HRHRC's Film Collection. Issues of magazines such as Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and TV Guide have been transferred to the HRHRC book collection, along with copies of My Favorite Martian comic books. Caricatures drawn for Damn Yankees, a watercolor sketch of Walston as "Luther Billis," and a pen and ink drawing of Walston have been transferred to the HRHRC Art Collection.

Ray Walston Papers--Folder List