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Steve Gordon Papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSS-123

Scope and Contents

The Steve Gordon Papers, 1971-1982, are comprised primarily of typescripts for various films, plays, and television series written by Mr. Gordon. Also included is a deposition, taken in a lawsuit against Mr. Gordon, a collection of newspaper clippings related to “Arthur,” a 1981 New York Magazine, as well as several promotional materials.

The collection is divided into three primary series. Series 1 is arranged alphabetically, while series 2 is arranged both alphabetically and chronologically. [S1] Typescripts, contains various drafts of films, television programs, and plays written by Mr. Gordon. Also included are a group of unfinished pieces of various lengths. These are grouped together and filed under the heading “Various Typescripts.” [S2] Printed Materials, contains a deposition taken in a 1978 lawsuit against Mr. Gordon. Also included in this second series is a collection of newspaper clippings related to “Arthur,” as well as a 1981 issue of New York Magazine containing an article on Gordon. [S3] Photographs, is comprised of promotional photographs taken of Gordon in 1981 in Paris, France.


  • 1971-1982

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials may be accessed by request at the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections on the fifth floor of the William S. Carlson Library on the main campus of the University of Toledo. Materials do not circulate.

Conditions Governing Use

In most cases, the Canaday Center does not own the copyright and literary rights to items in its collections; it is the responsibility of the researcher to adhere to U.S. Copyright and Fair Use laws, including seeking permission from the copyright holder and payment of any royalty fees, in the reproduction and use of archival materials. Providing copies or scans does not constitute a license to publish or reproduce images in print or electronic form.

Biographical / Historical

Steve Gordon was born in 1938 in the affluent Toledo suburb of Ottawa Hills, Ohio. After graduating Ottawa Hills High School in 1957 he elected not to heed the advice of one of his English teachers to become a writer, deciding instead to major in History and Political Science at Ohio State University, from which he graduated in 1961.

Upon graduation he moved to San Francisco, where, after a series of odd jobs, he became a successful advertising copywriter. He continued his advertising career in New York City, where, goaded by friends to back up his claims of being able to write a better play or film than the ones he watched, he wrote a play that was produced on Broadway under Carl Reiner’s direction. Though the play was unsuccessful and quickly folded, the experience led Gordon to writing and directing comedy for television programs. His work appeared on such shows as “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Chico and the Man,” “Barney Miller,” as well as a show of his own creation “The Practice” which ran from 1975 through 1976. His first successful screenplay was produced in 1977 under the title “The One and Only” (originally titled “Mr. Lovely”), starring Henry Winkler. This was followed by 1981’s critically and publicly acclaimed “Arthur,” which Gordon wrote and directed. Starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli, it won two Academy Awards and brought Gordon his highest level of fame. Tragically, a year later, in November of 1982, Steve Gordon died of a heart attack in New York City at age 44, cutting short his promising career.


1.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



S1 Typescripts 1971-1978, 1.2 linear feet Arranged alphabetically Included in this series are various typewritten drafts of films, television programs, and plays written by Mr. Gordon. Also included are a group of unfinished pieces which vary in length.

S2 Printed Materials 1978-1982, .2 linear feet Arranged alphabetically and chronologically This series includes a deposition relating to a 1978 lawsuit regarding intellectual copyright, a 1981 issue of New York Magazine, and a collection of newspaper clippings related to “Arthur.”

S3 Photographs 1981, .1 linear feet The Photographs series consists of three publicity photographs taken of Gordon in Paris, France.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received from Steve Gordon’s brother, Dr. Michael Gordon, 9 September, 1997.

Related Materials

Jamie Farr Papers, MSS-024, Canaday Center.

Steve Gordon Papers, 1971-1982
Benjamin Grillot; updated July 2014 and September 2020
October 1998
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections Repository

2801 West Bancroft Street
William S. Carlson Library, Fifth Floor
Toledo Ohio 43606 United States