UPDATE: Puzo’s archive sold for $625,000 at auction.
A massive, 45-box archive originating from the estate of The Godfather author-screenwriter Mario Puzo is headed to auction in February. The treasure trove of material includes thousands of pages, drafts, notes and varying versions of both the novel manuscript and film screenplay, the latter co-written with director Francis Ford Coppola.
When Coppola was hired by Paramount for the film adaptation, the director supported Puzo’s request that Marlon Brando play Don Corleone, whom the author had pictured in the title role since writing the novel. The RR Auction archive includes Puzo’s copy of a March 7th, 1970 letter sent to the iconic actor sharing disappointment that he would likely not get the part.
Puzo and Coppola wrote the first Godfather screenplay separately – the former in New York, the latter in San Francisco – and made frequent revisions to each other’s work. The archive includes a January 21st, 1971 letter from Puzo to Coppola, producer Al Ruddy and Paramount’s Peter Bart, which finds the author noting important corrections, including, “Michael’s fall from grace (Good guy to Murderer) should be more meaningful. After this (and I assume Francis will be re-writing this now) I feel it’s ready.”
The archive also includes nine partial copes of the first Godfather script in various stages of completion, a 744-page typed working draft manuscript for the Godfather novel (then titled “Mafia”), six large storyboards outlining the novel’s development, a 15-page novel outline noting that character Johnny Fontane was based on Frank Sinatra, Puzo’s copy of Coppola’s Godfather “Bible” and Puzo’s 1965 Olympia typewriter, which was likely used to write the novel.
Online bidding for RR Auction’s Literary Rarities sale will begin February 11th and conclude February 18th at 6 p.m. ET. A live auction of the Puzo archive will be held at RR’s Boston gallery at 7 p.m. ET.