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Although his name recognition was not as great as the Hollywood Ten's Dalton Trumbo and Ring Lardner Jr., Waldo Salt took the same unpopular stand of conscience as they, refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. The former drama teacher had received his first credit as a screenwriter for "The Shopworn Girl" (1938), reportedly worked uncredited on "The Philadelphia Story" (1940) and adapted "The Wild Man of Borneo" (1941) from a play by Marc Connelly and Herman Mankiewicz, among his projects, before World War II interrupted his career. Returning from overseas, he scripted "Rachel and the Stranger" (1948) and "The Flame and the Arrow" (1950), but the Hollywood blacklist would lock him out, stealing a decade from his working life. His next credit as Waldo Salt came for "Taras Bulba" (1962), adapted with Karl Tunberg from the Nikolai Gogol novel.
Salt fully hit his stride with the Oscar-winning script for John Schlesinger's "Midnight Cowboy" (1969), an emotionally shattering dramatization of James Leo Herlihy's novel. With the seamy side of NYC as backdrop for its compelling character study, this seminal picture of the 60s looks every bit as good today as when it debuted. Continuing his gritty, socially informed work, Salt received an Academy Award nomination for his contribution to Sidney Lumet's "Serpico" (1973), then reteamed with Schlesinger for "The Day of the Locust" (1975), a disturbing, depressing, absolutely fascinating look at 30s Tinseltown. Primarily an adapter of others, Salt won his second Oscar for co-scripting the original screenplay "Coming Home" (1978), a highly acclaimed post-Vietnam drama directed by Hal Ashby and starring Jane Fonda and Jon Voight.
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