The Robert De Niro collection of film-related materials is now open to researchers and the public at the Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin.
The materials, donated in 2006 by actor, director and producer De Niro, document his professional career from the 1960s through 2005. The collection includes more than 1,300 boxes of papers, film, movie props and costumes.
Filling more than 300 archival boxes, the paper portion of the collection includes De Niro’s heavily-annotated scripts and correspondence, make-up and wardrobe photographs, wardrobe continuity books, costume designs and posters, and extensive production, publicity and research material.
The papers document De Niro’s work on 69 films, from the 1968 film “Greetings” through “Hide and Seek” (2005), and demonstrate De Niro’s preparation for his acting roles and the collaborative nature of his work with noted writers, directors, actors and other film artists. The type and amount of material vary for each film.
“This is an important and incredibly rich collection,” said Steve Wilson, associate curator of film at the Ransom Center. “It covers so many aspects of filmmaking, from scripts and screenwriting to costumes and film and video. Scholars and students can follow the development of such films as ‘The Deer Hunter’ (1978), from the printed page to the screen. I simply don’t know of another film archive quite like it.”
With about 8,500 items filling more than 1,000 boxes, the costumes and props within the collection constitute the Center’s largest single costume holding and include such iconic items as the leopard-print boxing robe worn by De Niro in “Raging Bull” (1980) and the voluminous, body-length coats of the creature in “Frankenstein” (1994). Some of the costumes and props are accompanied by wardrobe continuity books that include notes from the wardrobe crew and photographs of De Niro in costume.
“Because of the comprehensiveness of the costume holdings, scholars can witness the conceptualization and realization of a character not only within one cinematic moment, but throughout the entire film,” said Helen Adair, the Ransom Center’s associate curator of performing arts. “The collection also illuminates production aspects such as the costume budget, the editing process of the costume designer, and wardrobe and makeup treatments that either enhance the expression of a character’s state or action, or that are used for scenes involving special effects.”
The collection, appraised at more than $5 million, took more than two years to process, organize and catalog.
A finding aid that provides an inventory of the collection and a database of costumes and props is available on-line. Also included is information about using the collection and the Center’s policy on access to costumes.
The Robert De Niro Endowed Fund supports research in the collection. Information about the Ransom Center’s fellowships is available online.
Additional materials for more recent De Niro projects will be added to the collection and made available at future dates.
The Ransom Center will display a selection of items from the collection in the Center’s lobby through Sunday, May 3.
Other substantial film collections at the Ransom Center include those of producer David O. Selznick, screenwriter Ernest Lehman and actress Gloria Swanson.
High-resolution press images from the De Niro collection are available.