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Being Hal AshbyLife of a Hollywood Rebel$

Nick Dawson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813125381

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813125381.001.0001

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(p.85) 8 1968
Being Hal Ashby

Nick Dawson

University Press of Kentucky

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the developments in Hal Ashby's career and personal life during the year 1968. Ashby filed for divorce and give Shirley Citron $100 alimony per week. His collaboration with Norman Jewison, In the Heat of the Night was nominated for several Academy Awards. The film won several major awards including Best Picture, Best Actor, and the Best Film Editing for Ashby.

Keywords:   Hal Ashby, divorce, Shirley Citron, alimony, Norman Jewison, Academy Awards, film editing, In the Heat of the Night

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.

—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

“Have you ever gone to a preview and seen a film so outstanding that you wanted to rush into the street, grab the first person you see, and shout ‘Don't miss this when it comes to your favorite theatre!’ Well, this is exactly how I felt when I saw In the Heat of the Night,” enthused Radie Harris in her Hollywood Reporter column. “If it isn't the big ‘sleeper’ of the year, I'll toss my personal crystal ball overboard into the East River.”1

In early June, a new glow of optimism appeared in Ashby's life. In the Heat of the Night now seemed to be hitting just the right note with preview audiences; he and Norman Jewison were about to embark on a new film, The Thomas Crown Affair, in Boston; and an unusual proposition had given Ashby and Shirley a chance at reconciliation.

During the slow disintegration of their relationship, Ashby and Shirley had been in the process of trying to adopt a “hard-to-place” child, which Shirley hoped would help bring them back together. (Ashby allegedly had had a vasectomy sometime after leaving Ogden, so adoption might have been their only option.) When Ashby left, Shirley's shot at adopting went with him. However, before anybody had found out about the separation, Shirley appealed to him to help her.

“If there is one thing I'm good at,” she said, “it's being a mother, (p.86) and I want to follow through with the adoption! Will you play the game? Will you help me?”

For Ashby, this meant not only paying for the adoption, but also spending time getting to know the child. There was also a tacit implication that by playing “the game,” Shirley and Ashby were taking a step toward mending their marriage and becoming a proper family again.

Shirley didn't press him for an immediate decision, saying simply, “Think about these things, and let me know your decision later.”

Ashby's desire to be a rescuer once again took over; though he no longer found Shirley irresistible, he could not resist the opportunity to save her. Against his better judgment, he agreed to go along with her plan a few days later. “God Bless You!” Shirley cried, overjoyed.2

Shirley ultimately decided to adopt a mixed-race toddler originally called Baby Boy Lawrence, whom they called Steven. Steven, who became known as Teeg, was three years old when Ashby and Shirley began the adoption process in the spring of 1967. A few years earlier, Sammy Davis had adopted a mixed-race child, and now, in the wake of the Watts riots, Ashby may have seen his adoption of Steven as a politically symbolic action. Ashby and Jewison had endless conversations about the adoption, and Jewison agreed to be his guarantor and tell the authorities that Ashby and Shirley were good parents. Nonetheless, at one point Jewison sat with the two of them and asked, “Are you sure you want to do this? It's eighteen to twenty years of your life!”3

Throughout the making of In the Heat of the Night, Jewison had worked with Alan Trustman, a practicing lawyer, on his script for The Thomas Crown Affair, then called The Crown Caper. The story of Thomas Crown, a Boston banker who masterminds audacious bank robberies for kicks and is pursued, both professionally and romantically, by alluring insurance investigator Vicki Anderson, was fundamentally shallow in nature, putting style before profundity, and required leads who were classy and sexy. The role of Crown was given to Steve McQueen after the actor convinced Jewison that, despite appearances, he had the necessary sophistication, but the casting of Vicki confounded Jewison and Ashby until, just weeks before shooting began, they chose a young actress named Faye Dunaway, who had just completed filming her first feature, Bonnie and Clyde (1967).

(p.87) With the leads in place, there was just enough time before shooting started in Boston for Jewison to take Ashby and Haskell Wexler up to Montreal to Expo ’67. He wanted them to see Canadian filmmaker Chris Chapman's A Place to Stand (1967), in which multiple screen techniques condensed more than an hour of footage into less than twenty minutes, with a view to using multiscreen as a stylistic device in The Thomas Crown Affair. Jewison and Wexler had so enjoyed experimenting with the cinematography on In the Heat of the Night, and Ashby had so enjoyed cutting their footage, that they agreed that in The Thomas Crown Affair visuals would be king.

The screening of A Place to Stand didn't disappoint, and Ashby, Jewison, and Wexler headed to Boston plotting the use of multiscreen in The Thomas Crown Affair; Ashby was probably the most excited of the three and looked back on Expo ’67 as “the greatest film show I had ever seen in my life.”4 While in Montreal, Ashby had bought some Cuban cigars, but on his reentry into the United States, customs officials wouldn't allow him to bring them into the country. To get rid of them, Ashby went down the customs queue, offering each person a cigar. He took devilish glee in watching Americans and Canadians alike puffing on their cigars, blowing smoke into the faces of the U.S. officials.

With each film, his partnership with Jewison led to greater responsibilities for Ashby, and on The Thomas Crown Affair he had an associate producer role in addition to his usual editing duties. According to Jewison, he was to act as “casting consultant, script idea man, and all-round good companion,” and the job title basically allowed Ashby to work more closely with Jewison on the film from beginning to end.5 Jewison was producing as well as directing again, and as Ashby acknowledged: “When you're really directing there's not a lot of producing you can do.”6 Ashby therefore handled whatever producing duties Jewison was too busy to fulfill. By now, the pair knew each other so well that they had a synergistic artistic and personal rapport. “I saw what a force Hal was, making Norman's creativity blossom,” says Haskell Wexler. “They were a good combo, and I don't think Norman's made as good pictures since he and Hal were partners.”7

Ashby spent little time on set and instead tinkered with the script, sorted out any problems with the day-to-day running of the production, and prepared the ground for postproduction. However, when he (p.88) did venture on set, he watched closely how Jewison worked. Jewison treated his actors with kid gloves, always putting them at ease and praising them whenever possible; if he was particularly pleased with a take, he would grab McQueen and Dunaway and give them a huge bear hug. Yet despite this gentle touch, he was, according to Ashby, “more shrewd than some actors think.” Jewison had a hard-edged alter ego, “Irving Christianson,” who Jewison claimed produced his films. “Up in Boston we got a call from the Mirisches,” Ashby recounted. “They say, ‘You're a couple of days over schedule. Why don't you come back to Hollywood?’ So Norman says, ‘Wait a minute, I'll ask Irving.’ Then he comes back and says, ‘Irving wants to stay a few more days,’ and hangs up.”8

While the company was in Boston, a special preview screening of In the Heat of the Night was organized in the city. The film's first reviews, from Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, must have somewhat disappointed Jewison, but they were extremely pleasing to the Mirisches. Both critics saw that, aside from its racial theme, the film was essentially a flimsy potboiler. In the Variety critic's eyes, the standout performances by the leads helped “overcome some noteworthy flaws,” Jewison's direction was “sometimes … pretentious,” the script was “uneven,” and the film as a whole was “a triumph over some of its basic parts.”9 The Hollywood Reporter also found Jewison's direction overly arty and thought that Heat “effects a feeling of greater importance by its veneer of social significance and the illusion of depth in its use of racial color.” Both reviews praised Ashby's editing (though Variety criticized the audacious use of long shots in the chase sequence), and, significantly, both also predicted big box office for the film, with the Reporter saying it would “emerge one of the top boxoffice winners of the year.”10

For Ashby and Jewison, it was difficult to decide whether critical or commercial success was more important. “We wanted to make a film that would make money, that people would see,” says Haskell Wexler, “and would also express our awareness that progress was being made and that human values can supersede bigotry.”11 While the three saw themselves as artists and sought validation from their intellectual peers, good box office was arguably more crucial as it meant that large numbers of people were being exposed to and, they hoped, embracing, their message of racial tolerance. In the end, they got both. When the film (p.89) was released in August, the reviews were predominantly positive and the business extraordinary: by the end of 1967, it had earned an enormous $14 million. By packaging the ideas of the civil rights movement in a detective story, they had gotten their message across to mainstream America.

As was his way, Jewison shot as much of The Thomas Crown Affair on location as possible, but after twelve weeks of filming in Boston, the company returned to Los Angeles to shoot interiors on the Goldwyn lot. For Ashby, this meant he would now have to face up to his situation at home. The adoption process was moving along, and Steven had been living with Shirley and Carrie since the middle of May. Shirley had sent Ashby a Father's Day card she had made with Steven and Carrie, enclosing drawings by both children, including one of “Papa Cat.”

In Ashby's absence, Shirley was trying to keep the possibility of them being a family again in his mind, but as always Ashby's workaholic personality meant that he put editing and films first, to the detriment of his wife and children. His biggest frustration in life was that there weren't enough hours in the day to get his work done. “Great God but the time do fly,” he wrote during the filming of Heat. “Each day I tell myself I'll get further ahead and we all know what really happens don't we.”12 Shirley's main frustration was that her husband was a barely present figure in the family home.

As the marriage progressed, Shirley's relative abandonment in the home led her to spend large amounts of money on herself and the house, much to Ashby's anger and frustration. Since the 1950s, Ashby had been very careful with whatever small amount he was earning, and as he moved up the ladder and his weekly paycheck got bigger, this attitude hadn't changed.

After Thomas Crown wrapped in late September, he took some time off to try to make sense of what was going on in his life. “It took me about six weeks to go into the cutting room,” he recalled later. “I had a lot of things on my mind.”13 After carefully considering his position, he wrote an anguished letter to Shirley in which he voiced his frustrations about their current situation as well as profound doubts about his involvement in the adoption process. Clearly overwhelmed, he wrote that since Steven had arrived in their home “the emotional and financial (p.90) pressures have been piled one on top of the other with an unrelenting consistency, and in such a manner, that I've finally reached the breaking point.”

“Unfortunately,” he continued, “it's difficult to describe the actual causes of emotional stress, let alone the results, for they seem to thrive on a cumulative basis. One thing hits you, then another, and another, and another, again and again, until it becomes a nebulous mass of churning anxiety. As a result, these feelings have reached the all consuming stage where I am unable to cope with them any longer. In fact, this thrashing about inside myself to find some sort of inner stamina to help carry me through these emotional assaults has brought me to a level of exhaustion and despair I didn't believe could exist without the advent of total insanity.

“The burden has increased by the mere fact that it's been over four years since I took more than three days off in a row, and I'm extremely aware of how tired I am because of this. However, the compulsions which drive me in this area are not new, and I'm used to working long stretches without time off. Now, the big difference comes when the little something inside me says you're pushing too hard; relax; go away; rest your mind and body; recharge them. Of course, I can't do this because the loss of income from a two or three week rest period, combined with the expense of going somewhere would be disastrous. Hell, it was a scramble to get three or four hundred dollars so I could go to Expo ’67 for a few days.”

Ashby had calculated that during the twelve weeks he was away in Boston, Shirley had spent almost $10,000—this at a time when she was off work getting to know Steven—and he didn't believe she would become thriftier. “If I'll just tell you what to do—you'll do it!” he wrote. “However, when I ask you to look for another, less expensive place to live, the request is ignored. When I complain about $2,000.00 per year spent on schools for two children, who aren't yet (either of them) in the first grade, then it's ‘up-tight time.’ It's so tight you can't even talk about it. If I ask when you plan on looking for work—again it's ‘up-tight time’—and besides everything you made would have to go towards paying somebody to care for the children. Whatever happened to that independent lady who wouldn't think of asking anything from anybody?”

Ashby wanted Shirley to become financially independent, which (p.91) meant ceasing to use his charge accounts and putting the house entirely in her name and having her make the payments on it herself, as he now lived in the office on the Goldwyn lot rather than at home. He also suggested that Steven should be adopted by Shirley rather than both of them. “I honestly believe this is the fair thing to do for Carrie's sake,” he maintained. “As you know, Carrie isn't legally my child, and my legal adoption of Steven would really have her out on a limb if something were to happen to me—as the attorney once said—if someone were to question it….”

Ashby's closing statement reveals just how extreme his feelings were about the situation: “If by the time I finish work on this film, you haven't sold the house or obtained a job of your own, or found some means of income, then let this be fair and adequate warning—I will blow everything. I will not work my life away just to have somebody drain what's left down the tubes. I'm more prepared to let all of my work during the past few years go straight down those tubes, but I'll do it of my own volition—no matter how painful it might be—and I'll find that beach somewhere in this world.”14

Having made his feelings known, Ashby retreated into the sanctuary of the editing room and threw himself into the cutting of The Thomas Crown Affair. He started off with the first three reels but could not put them together satisfactorily. The plan had been to create multiscreen sequences within the film, but as this idea had been conceived only a few weeks before filming began, there had been no storyboarding, and creating a sequence from scratch proved almost impossible. Fortunately, Ashby remembered that Pablo Ferro had worked with multiscreen on a commercial and invited him to take over that part of the editing. Ferro was not only a highly creative and unconventional artist but also a welcome ally in difficult times. He faced a huge challenge as he had only two Moviola editing desks and a sketch artist to mock up the multiples he was planning, but the now iconic robbery and polo sequences he created are arguably the most stylish parts of a film in which dash and panache are everything.

Another important element in the style offensive was the music: Ashby brought in Michel Legrand (whose score for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg [1964] he and Jewison both greatly admired) and had him write music in response to the film. Legrand composed eighty minutes (p.92) of lush orchestral music that Ashby listened to as he cut, matching the music to the image where it fit best. Legrand's collaboration with Alan and Marilyn Bergman on the film's iconic theme song, “The Windmills of Your Mind,” added a further touch of style to the proceedings.

Though Ralph E. Winters (who was brought in to help finish up the film) actually edited the film's famous “chess with sex” scene, there are moments in The Thomas Crown Affair that were Ashby's alone: near the end, the image of McQueen and Dunaway sitting happily by their beach campfire freezes and becomes a frame in the top-left-hand corner of the screen while, in multiscreen format, we see the second robbery take place. Jewison, to whom “the editing in this picture is perhaps as stylish as the cinematography and the performances,” describes this moment as “a real kind of intellectual, deeply sophisticated cinematic idea, editorially. And if someone wasn't high on marijuana, I'm sure, at the moment, that image wouldn't have even remained in the film. But that's how free we were.”15

Ashby recalled that he was initially daunted by the prospect of editing The Thomas Crown Affair: “Finally one day I said, ‘I'm going to go in and do it,’ and I was in there for six months, seven days a week.”16 Once he'd entered the editing room, he claimed, “I didn't leave it for seven months. I mean, I literally didn't leave it. I stayed in it, I slept in it, I lived in it for seven months. I worked that hard on it.”17 That Ashby worked hard is indisputable; however, he did leave the editing room on a number of very significant occasions during that six-month period from the start of November 1967 to the end of April 1968.

Ashby spent Christmas Day and New Year's with Shirley, during which time she seemingly attempted a reconciliation. However, just two days after an intimate New Year's dinner with her, Ashby wrote to her to say he was offering her $200 per week and nothing more.

“After Christmas Eve, and dinner the other night,” he wrote, “it has been especially traumatic to sit and put all that down on paper, but it seems one trauma, in the end, outweighs the other.

“I know, when you read the note, your reaction will not be pleasant. You will say it's impossible, and you won't be able to manage. Obviously, when you look at the standard of living you seem to expect to maintain, it's true, it will be most difficult to manage.

(p.93) “… Perhaps one of the points I'm trying to make out of all this is that life does change. Things don't stay the same, and we try to adapt in some way or the other, if for no other reason than survival.”18

After writing this letter, he spent hours jotting down figures, trying to calculate what Shirley was due and what she would have to struggle for herself. In the letters he sent to her in the ensuing weeks, his tone was cool and practical, but never cruel. He was trying to be fair but felt that she had been too reliant on him.

Despite his misgivings, however, he remained a coconspirator in Steven's adoption and thus tied to Shirley in their deceit, if nothing else. During the probationary period of the adoption, Shirley told Ashby whenever someone from the Los Angeles County Bureau of Adoptions was visiting so that he could be at the house and present the image of a normal father in a normal family. It was impossible for Ashby and Shirley to completely hide their marital problems, but they never let it slip that Ashby only ever came home an hour before the social worker arrived or that he left the house just minutes after the social worker did.

On March 15, 1968, ten months after Steven's arrival, Ashby and Shirley attended an adoption hearing. Ashby was asked routinely whether he knew that, if the adoption were ratified, Steven would legally be his and that, if he and Shirley divorced, he would be obliged to provide for him. He calmly nodded yes. The Ashbys’ social worker recommended that the court approve their petition for adoption, and Ashby and Shirley left that Friday afternoon as young Teeg's new parents.

Bystanders at the courthouse might have noticed that rather than leaving together to celebrate, Mr. and Mrs. Ashby went off in separate directions. While Shirley went home, Hal headed for the bank, where he discovered that one savings account, which was supposed to contain $1,100, had been emptied by Shirley a month earlier. Incensed, he immediately called his business manager and told him to cancel his weekly payments to Shirley and to stop paying her bills. When, early the next week, Shirley discovered what had happened, she tried repeatedly to contact Ashby, but he refused to speak to her. After three days of fruitless phone calls, she became desperate and went to her lawyer to seek advice. By the end of that day, March 21, Shirley had filed a divorce action against Ashby, asking for custody of and support for Steven.

Ashby claimed in court that Shirley had “committed a fraud upon (p.94) him and upon the court in that she then had no intention to live with him as his wife and form a united home in which to raise the adopted child, and, on the contrary, intended to divorce [him].”19 Ashby, in his distressed state, believed that she had used him to adopt Steven and had all along planned to divorce him as soon as the adoption came through and have Ashby support her and the two children financially without being a part of their lives. (According to Carrie, he lodged a paternity suit in an attempt to prove that she was not his daughter, but the case was thrown out.) It's questionable that Ashby had wanted a reconciliation with Shirley, but her betrayal left him stung and embittered.

Shirley denied Ashby's accusations and maintained that the withdrawal she had made represented half of a $2,200 tax refund that they had apparently agreed to split. (The previous extent of her spending of Ashby's money, and the fact that on a number of occasions following their divorce she forged Ashby's signature to fraudulently attempt to collect thousands of dollars in insurance claims, might make us view this explanation with suspicion.)

At the divorce hearing on April 4, Shirley was given custody of Carrie and Steven, Ashby was granted visitation rights, and Shirley's attempt to have a restraining order taken out against Ashby was quashed. The house was put entirely in Shirley's name, but Ashby was ordered to pay both mortgages on the house and the house's upkeep plus all utility bills, phone bills, and medical bills. He was also to pay for the family's insurance and the children's schooling (which he did for longer than he was obliged to, paying for Carrie's college education) and give Shirley $100 alimony per week. One of the few positive points for Ashby was that Shirley got their Volvo and he was allowed to keep his beloved 1964 Jaguar.

Ashby unsuccessfully tried to have his adoption of Steven annulled and on numerous occasions contested his obligation to pay for such things as the children's medical bills and Shirley's sessions with her psychiatrist. In 1970, when Steven was diagnosed as having “adjustment difficulties,” Ashby wrote to Shirley refusing to pay for his psychiatric treatment:

Perhaps I don't understand the philosophy of deceit, but somewhere in the density of your mind, you must have some idea of (p.95) the financial burden imposed on me, while you pursue such a philosophy, as a means, to try and [sic] fulfill your own peculiar needs.

As with any child, my sympathies go to Steven. I know how difficult it is for an adult to live with someone who is so expertly adroit, and talented, when it comes to lying. For a child, it must verge on the impossible. If you decide to keep Steven under the therapeutic help of [his psychiatrist], you might suggest she devote most of the time just trying to make Steven understand, and accept the fact, he was adopted by a mother who practices the art of dishonesty as a life style.20

Just hours after the divorce hearing, Ashby learned that Martin Luther King Jr., the leader of the civil rights movement, had been shot dead in Memphis, Tennessee. Ashby and Jewison were greatly affected by King's death, and along with Haskell Wexler, Quincy Jones, Sidney Poitier, Lena Horne, Marlon Brando, Tony Franciosa, James Baldwin, and farmworkers’ union leader, César Chávez, they chartered a plane to Atlanta to attend the funeral on April 9. “It was very quiet on board that plane,” Jewison remembers. “We were all overcome with a sense of hopelessness, a sense that the anger and bitterness in the country were so great, no one could save the future.”21

That night, the group slept on a hotel floor, all overcome by the emotion of the situation. The following day, Ashby and Jewison joined the massed mourners, said to number as many as 300,000, as they escorted King's coffin to his final resting place. “I had never been that political before,” says Quincy Jones, “but following the mule-drawn wagon carrying Dr. King's casket through the streets … in a crowd of thousands pushed me right to the edge.”22 Jones recalls that Ashby walked “confused and teary-eyed” beside him.23 It was the belief of many that Bobby Kennedy, who marched with them at the funeral and whose own brother, President John F. Kennedy, had been assassinated five years earlier, was the only man who could bring the country together, the only man who could save America.

In observance of King's death, the Academy Awards ceremony was postponed until the day after King's funeral. Now more prescient than ever, (p.96) In the Heat of the Night was nominated in six categories, including Best Picture, with Rod Steiger (Best Actor), Stirling Silliphant (Best Adapted Screenplay), Jewison (Best Director), and Ashby among the nominees. Though Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde and Stanley Kramer's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner were tipped to be the big winners (both had ten nominations), it was In the Heat of the Night that won the first award of the evening, Best Sound, and for the next hour or so kept on winning.

Best Editing was the tenth award to be handed out that night, and Ashby—according to Pablo Ferro's (possibly apocryphal) story—almost wasn't there to pick up his statuette. Ashby, in the editing room with Ferro working late on The Thomas Crown Affair, was not intending to go to the ceremony. However, Ferro managed to convince him that as they had the tickets, they might as well go. Already very late, the pair hurried to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, where the ceremony was being held, and were just walking into the theater when Ashby heard his name being called.

Spectators in the audience, and millions of television viewers worldwide, saw a bearded, bespectacled man in a casual jacket and turtleneck rush awkwardly down the side aisle and bustle onto the stage. However, once there, he flashed a charming smile at Dame Edith Evans, who was waiting to hand him his award, and delivered a surprisingly lucid acceptance speech. “To repeat the words of a very dear friend of mine last year when he picked up his Oscar,” Ashby said (referring to Haskell Wexler), “I only hope we can use all our talents and creativity towards peace and love.”24 On a night of somber and respectful tributes, Ashby's short speech stood out as the most heartfelt: he did not thank a long list of people; he simply spoke his words, raised his statuette in acknowledgment, and walked off the stage.

Jewison missed out on Best Director, but he and Ashby were delighted to see Steiger and Silliphant win, and In the Heat of the Night claim the big one, Best Picture of the Year. “We all felt that the success of the movie was more than what such things tend to be,” says Jewison. “It was a confirmation that America was ready for our message. That it was ready for Martin Luther King's message of hope and for Bobby Kennedy's message of reconciliation.”25

In posed pictures taken after the ceremony, Ashby stands alongside (p.97) Edith Evans looking happy, but far from overwhelmed. During the making of Heat, he had joked: “Praising me can be a very dangerous thing. I become very important to myself, and sometimes go for days without so much as a ‘good morning nod’ to anybody because they are not worthy of same. However, I must say I do love the feeling.”26

Although the Oscar represented the pinnacle of his career as an editor, his mind was preoccupied with his work on Thomas Crown, his divorce, and America's troubles. Ashby was, in fact, a little embarrassed to have won, confessing later: “The competition—particularly Dede Allen who edited Bonnie and Clyde—was too good. I felt my award was part of the sweep for In the Heat of the Night. I went so far as to try and apologize to Dede, a friend of mine and possibly the best editor in the business.”27 The whole idea of winning was also at odds with his hippie philosophy. “All awards are kind of strange,” he pondered, “because if you go along with the idea of winning, what you're basically doing is hoping someone else will lose…. The biggest thrill I got out of it was my friends’ reaction, because they seemed to be so pleased on my behalf, and I enjoyed that.”28

His family's reaction was also ecstatic. The Ogden Standard Examiner quoted their proud comments, with Eileen pointing out that his Oscar was most deserved as “he has worked very, very hard at this.”29 The article, made up of information gleaned from Ashby's Ogden relatives, stated that he lived with his wife and family in Bel Air. Ashby had not told them that he had left the house in Bel Air a year before or that he and Shirley were now divorced.


(1) . Radie Harris, “Broadway Ballyhoo,” Hollywood Reporter, June 9, 1967.

(2) . Letter from Hal Ashby to Shirley Ashby, October 13, 1967.

(3) . Norman Jewison, telephone interview with the author, April 25, 2006.

(4) . AFI Seminar with Hal Ashby, interview by James Powers, October 20, 1976.

(5) . Jewison, This Terrible Business, 164.

(6) . AFI Seminar with Hal Ashby, interview by James Powers, October 20, 1976.

(7) . Biskind, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, 172.

(8) . James Lipscomb, “Improvise!—Films Are Made with Whimsy,” Life, November 10, 1967, 89.

(9) . Murf., review of In the Heat of the Night, Variety, June 21, 1967.

(10) . John Mahoney, “‘In the Heat of the Night’ One of the Year's B.O. Winners,” Hollywood Reporter, June 21, 1967, 3.

(11) . Haskell Wexler, commentary, on In the Heat of the Night DVD.

(12) . Memo from Hal Ashby to Norman Jewison et al., October 10, 1966.

(13) . AFI Seminar with Hal Ashby, interview by James Powers, October 20, 1976.

(p.363) (14) . Letter from Hal Ashby to Shirley Ashby, October 13, 1967.

(15) . Norman Jewison, commentary, on The Thomas Crown Affair DVD, dir. Norman Jewison (MGM, 2002).

(16) . AFI Seminar with Hal Ashby, interview by James Powers, October 20, 1976.

(17) . Powers, “Dialogue on Film: Hal Ashby,” 59.

(18) . Letter from Hal Ashby to Shirley Ashby, January 3, 1968.

(19) . Court Memorandum, in the Matter of the Adoption of Baby Boy Lawrence (No. WE A.D. 1937), May 15, 1968.

(20) . Letter from Hal Ashby to Shirley Ashby, September 15, 1970.

(21) . Jewison, This Terrible Business, 151–52.

(22) . Quincy Jones, Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2001), 216.

(23) . Letter from Quincy Jones, read at Hal Ashby memorial service, December 30, 1988.

(24) . Mason Wiley and Damien Bona, Inside Oscar (New York: Ballantine, 1996), 411.

(25) . Jewison, This Terrible Business, 153.

(26) . Memo from Hal Ashby to Norman Jewison et al., October 13, 1966.

(27) . Richard Cuskelly, “A Rip Van Winkle Beard and a Calm Demeanor,” Los Angeles Herald Examiner, April 2, 1972.

(28) . Will Jones, “Film Guru Ashby Enjoys View from the Mountain,” Minneapolis Tribune, February 1976.

(29) . “Film Editor from Ogden Wins Oscar,” Ogden Standard Examiner, April 12, 1968.