A Guide to the William Broyles, Jr., Papers, 1962-2002
William Broyles, Jr. was born October 8, 1944 in Houston, Texas, and was raised in Baytown. He attended Rice University, earning a B.A. in History in 1966. While at Rice, Broyles was an active member of the student body and a contributing editor to the student newspaper, The Rice Thresher. As early as 1966, Broyles was also contributing articles to the Houston Post. Broyles served as president of the Rice student association during the 1965-1966 academic year, and was awarded the Hugh Scott Cameron award for outstanding community service. He has remained a strong supporter of the University throughout his career, delivering the commencement speech in 1983, and receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1993.
After graduating from Rice, Broyles was invited to study as a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University where he earned an M.A. in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics in 1968. While at Oxford, Broyles pursued his interests in both journalism and public service. He wrote political columns for the Oxford University magazine and contributed articles to the Economist of London. He also spoke throughout England for the United States Information Service. He later worked briefly for Leo Kramer, Inc., a Washington, D.C. social sciences consulting firm as a consultant on Model Cities, Manpower, and VISTA training programs.
In 1968, Broyles’s career was put on hold when he was drafted into the United States Marine Corps. Between 1969 and 1971, he rose to the rank of First Lieutenant and served in Vietnam, first as an infantry commander, and later as an aide-de-camp to the Assistant Division Commander, 1st Marine Division. Due to his education background and experience, his assigned duties included social issues with an emphasis on the refugees in the Quang Nam Province. Broyles received the Bronze Star and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star.
Broyles’s experiences in Vietnam inspired two of his most critically acclaimed projects. In 1984, he was one of the first veterans to return to Vietnam, and his book Brothers in Arms: A Journey from War to Peace, recounts his visit and his impressions of the aftermath of war on himself and his fellow soldiers, as well as on the country he fought against in battle. In 1988, Broyles once again drew upon his memories in Vietnam when he co-created the award-winning television series, China Beach, a weekly drama for ABC about the doctors and nurses stationed at an American military base in Danang.
Upon returning from Vietnam in 1971, Broyles picked up his professional career. He taught Philosophy and Political Science at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis before returning to Texas as Chief Public Relations Officer for the Houston Independent School District. After a brief period of time in public service in Houston, Broyles was provided the opportunity to pursue his other primary interest, journalism. He became the founding editor of Texas Monthly magazine in 1972.
Broyles’s and Texas Monthly publisher Michael R. Levy’s goal was to create a magazine of national quality in Texas, and Broyles spent eight years doing just that. Within its first year, the publication won a National Magazine Award for excellence; and during Broyles’s tenure it quickly gained recognition as a “writer’s magazine,” offering intelligent and entertaining articles on Texas life ranging from politics, culture, art, sports, the environment, social issues, and entertainment. The award-winning magazine continues today as an example of quality journalism with a regional focus and a national readership.
In 1980, Broyles and business partners, including Michael Levy, purchased New West magazine from Rupert Murdoch. Broyles served as editor-in-chief of the magazine from 1980-1982, and saw it through its redesign and re-naming as California. By 1982, Broyles’s impressive track record in the magazine publishing world had caught the attention of Katherine Graham who recruited him to serve as editor of Newsweek magazine. He held that position from 1982-1984 when he resigned to pursue other interests.
During the next few years, Broyles made one more foray into the magazine publishing world, serving as editor-in-chief of Cable Guide, but he focused primarily on developing his writing career. In addition to Brothers in Arms, he wrote a three-act play titled Boot, about three soldiers in a bunker in Vietnam joined by a new recruit that they nickname “Boot”. The plot follows the four young men as they struggle to cope with the realities of war.
In 1988, Broyles found critical success with the television series China Beach. In addition to co-creating the show with John Sacret Young, Broyles also wrote or co-wrote several of the early episodes, and remained producer and creative consultant throughout the run of the show. In 1991, the Golden Globe-winning China Beach went off the air, but Broyles was well into production on his second television project, Under Cover, a political espionage series following the adventures of husband-and-wife secret service agents, Dylan and Kate Del’Amico. The series was short-lived, and Broyles next adapted the Nigel Hamilton novel, J.F.K.: Reckless Youth, for a 1993 television mini-series of the same name starring Patrick Dempsey as the young future president.
Also in 1993, Broyles turned his attention from television projects to writing feature films. He shares his first screenwriting credit with former Texas Monthly writer, Al Reinert for Apollo 13. The film, based loosely on the novel Lost Moon, co-authored by astronaut James Lovell and Jeffrey Kruger, was directed by Ron Howard. It was met with both critical and box office success, and Broyles and Reinert were nominated for the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay.
After Apollo 13, Broyles began work on Cast Away, an original screenplay about a FedEx executive stranded on a deserted island. Released in 2000, the film was produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, directed by Robert Zemeckis, and it features Tom Hanks as the resilient Chuck Noland. Apollo 13 and Cast Away secured Broyles’s place as an A-list Hollywood screenwriter, and he holds writing credits on several other motion pictures including Entrapment (1999), Planet of the Apes (2001), Unfaithful (2002), Polar Express (2004), and Jarhead, (2005). Broyles continues to write, and he has recently begun his next feature film, Lost Shadows. The Texas native currently lives and works in Wyoming.
The papers of magazine editor, playwright, novelist, and screenwriter, William Broyles, Jr., span the years 1962 to the present and are arranged into the following series: Personal Papers, Magazines, Books (Published and Unpublished), Plays, Television Projects (General, Produced, and Unproduced), Film Projects (Produced and Unproduced), Writings by Others, and Videocassettes. Brief descriptions of each series are below. More detailed series descriptions begin on page 12 of this finding aid.
The first series, Personal Papers (boxes 1-14), documents Broyles’s early interests and activities outside of his writing career. Included is a 1962 diary, general correspondence, materials relating to his work with the Houston Independent School District, subject files, and travel ephemera. There is little material in this series relating to his service in Vietnam, nor to his time as Marshall Scholar at Oxford University.
The second series, Magazines (boxes 15-84), documents Broyles’s leadership and involvement in a number of prominent magazines including Texas Monthly, New West/California, Newsweek, and Cable Guide. There is also material relating to Broyles’s magazine freelance projects. Broyles served as the founding editor of Texas Monthly magazine from 1972-1980, and those records comprise the bulk of this series. They provide insight into the history and development of the magazine, and Broyles’s vision as editor.
Series three, Books - Published (boxes 85-92), includes correspondence, research, typescripts, and reviews of Broyles’s 1986 novel, Brothers in Arms: A Journey from War to Peace. The novel describes Broyles’s return trip to Vietnam in 1984, and it was met with critical success. Series four, Books - Unpublished (boxes 93-94), includes research materials and drafts of an unpublished novel about Billy the Kid. Broyles has written one play, Boot, and materials relating to that project comprise the fifth series of the Broyles Papers, Plays (boxes 95-96). Notes, drafts, and correspondence of the play form this series.
Series six through eight document Broyles’s success in television projects. Series six, Television - General (box 96) contains information about television programming, networks, and individuals in the business. Series seven, Television Projects - Produced (boxes 97-183) includes a wide body of materials relating to the two television projects Broyles created, China Beach and Under Cover, as well as the television mini series he wrote, J.F.K.: Reckless Youth. Research, notes, scripts, production files, and reviews document these projects. Series eight, Television Projects – Unproduced (boxes 183-189) contains script materials and idea outlines for several television projects Broyles worked on but that remain un-produced.
Broyles’ work in film is reflected in the next two series. Series nine, Film Projects – Produced (boxes 190-233), includes materials relating to the following films: Apollo 13 (1995), Entrapment (1999), Cast Away (2000), Planet of the Apes (2001), and Unfaithful (2002). Correspondence, research, notes, scripts, and reviews document these films. Broyles’s work on the various projects often overlapped, so this series is arranged chronologically according to the release date of each film. The tenth series, Film Projects - Unproduced (233-241), contains materials for a number of film projects that have not been produced. Arranged alphabetically by working title, these projects include “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep,” “Earth Angel,” “Hard Rock: There Are No Limits,” “R and R,” and an untitled baseball project.
The eleventh series, Writings by Others (boxes 242-246), contains a number of television and motion picture scripts written by individuals other than Broyles, and the final series, Videocassettes (boxes 247-264), includes a number of video taped episodes and some dailies from China Beach, Under Cover, and other television projects.
Series I: Personal Papers, 1962, 1971-1993 The series Personal Papers documents Broyles’s early interests and activities outside of his writing career. Included are a 1962 diary and general correspondence (arranged chronologically). While the bulk of Broyles’s Texas Monthly correspondence is housed in Series II: Magazines, this selection of personal correspondence does include some letters addressed to him as editor of the magazine.
Broyles’ early career with the Houston Independent School District is also represented in this series. He was employed there from 1971-1972 as Chief Public Relations Officer in charge of community relations, and these personnel files contain reports, correspondence, and other evidence of his work on behalf of the schools in the area.
Subject files are arranged alphabetically and demonstrate a wide variety of interests. Of note are materials relating to Rice University including a copy of the 1983 commencement speech he delivered as well as materials relating to his receipt in 1993 of the distinguished alumni award. Other speeches can be found in Series II: Magazines (box 25), notably a 1976 speech delivered to Rice University, and speeches before the Houston Philosophical Society, Robert E. Lee High School, and the American Society of Magazine Editors.
Also included in the Personal Papers series are journals, tickets, brochures, itineraries, and correspondence from his travels in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s.
Series II: Magazines, 1971-1991 This series documents Broyles’ leadership and involvement in a number of prominent magazines including Texas Monthly, New West/California, Newsweek, and Cable Guide. There is also material relating to several of Broyles’s magazine freelance projects. The series is arranged by magazine.
A. Texas Monthly (boxes 15-59): The bulk of the Magazine Series relates to Texas Monthly. Broyles was the founding editor of the magazine and served in that role until 1980. Correspondence, Subject Files, Administrative Records, and Issue Files comprise this series.
Correspondence (boxes 15-31) is arranged chronologically, with a few notable exceptions: correspondence between Executive Editor, Greg Curtis and other individuals are separate (box 19), as are query letters sent to Broyles (boxes 20-21), Roar of the Crowd correspondence - primarily letters to the editor (boxes 22-24) speeches (box 25), and Broyles’ personal Texas Monthly related correspondence (boxes 26-27) which includes a 1977 telegram from President Jimmy Carter. While the majority of manuscripts in the Texas Monthly series are housed within the Issue Files (boxes 51-59), there are a few that can be found in the Correspondence series (box 24, folders 3-4). These include articles by Bartee Haile, Stephen Harrigan, Prudence Mackintosh, William C. Martin, and Chase Untermeyer. The Correspondence series also includes interoffice memos, Broyles’ scheduling correspondence, and “green sheets” – daily memos between Broyles and his assistant (boxes 28-31).
Subject Files (boxes 33-46) comprise the second largest portion of the Texas Monthly series, and are arranged alphabetically. The files vary between subjects, but the types of materials found within include correspondence, writings by or about the subjects, clippings, and photographs. Some subjects have fuller files than others. Notable among these are: Gary Cartwright, Greg Curtis, Steve Harrigan, Shelby Hearon, Harry Hurt III, Larry L. King, Larry McMurtry, Bill Porterfield, Dick Reavis, Jan Reid, Al Reinert, Bud Shrake, and Richard West. Also of interest is a research paper about the history of the Texas Monthly housed within the subject file for Sigma Delta Chi.
Administrative Files (boxes 46-51) is a broad series that includes meeting files, legal, editorial, publicity and marketing files, and notes documenting the day-today running of the magazine.
Perhaps the most notable materials within the Texas Monthly series are the Issue Files (boxes 51-59). In addition to correspondence and notes on each issue, this series include typescripts of many of the articles published during Broyles’ tenure with the magazine (boxes 55-59). Arranged chronologically by issue, there are typescripts by authors such as Billy Brammer, William Broyles, Jr., Gary Cartwright, Gregory Curtis, Stephen Harrigan, Larry L. King, Michael Levy, Beverly Lowry, Prudence Mackintosh, Jan Reid, Al Reinert, Griffin Smith, Jr., and Richard West.
B. New West / California (boxes 60-67): Broyles served as editor-in-chief of New West / California from 1980-1982, and correspondence, administrative files, and issue files document his involvement with the magazine. The correspondence series is arranged alphabetically and includes letters from fellow administrators such as magazine president Ted Siff, as well as many authors including Gary Cartwright, Harry Hurt, III, Larry L. King, Ben Stein, and Richard West. Administrative Files is comprised of meeting files, notes, idea files, and publicity and marketing files. Of interest within this series are materials documenting the name change of the magazine from New West to California (boxes 65-66). And finally, Issue Files, contains critiques, “Behind the Lines” files, and a handful of annotated typescripts.
C. Newsweek (boxes 67-77): Broyles was appointed editor-in-chief of Newsweek from 1982-1984. Correspondence, editorial files, speeches, and subject files document his leadership of this magazine. General correspondence is arranged chronologically, followed by alphabetical correspondence files for individuals such as Jonathan Alter, Katherine Graham, Peter McGrath, Richard West, and George Will. Also within the Newsweek series are speeches Broyles made while serving as editor-in-chief. Included are his remarks at the Lincoln Center, the New York City Vietnam Memorial, and Rice University commencement.
D. Cable Guide (boxes 78-81): In 1986, Broyles and his colleagues bought Cable Guide magazine. This small series includes files relating to the acquisition of the magazine, financial materials, and other administrative records.
E. Freelance Work (boxes 82-84): In addition to his employment at several prominent magazines, Broyles frequently contributed articles to other publications through freelance work. This series includes drafts of articles and correspondence relating to work done for American Heritage, Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, New York Times, Reader’s Digest, Texas Monthly, and U.S. News and World Report.
Series III: Books - Published, 1984-1986 Background information, notes and research, typescripts, correspondence, and reviews document Broyles’s 1986 novel, Brothers in Arms: A Journey from War to Peace. The novel describes Broyles’s trip to Vietnam in 1984. Background information includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, and a 1969 photograph of Broyles in his “study.” Notes and research includes notebooks, note cards, and preliminary drafts and fragments. The development of the novel can be traced further through the succession of typescripts and drafts including corrected typescripts, galleys, and proofs. And finally, correspondence from readers, reviewers as well as from Broyles’s friends and associates document the positive reception that the book received.
Series IV: Books – Unpublished, 1996-1998 This small series includes notes, research, and various drafts for an unpublished novel titled “Billy the Kid.”
Series V: Plays,  This series includes notes, drafts, and correspondence for a play titled Boot (early working title, “Blown Away: A Play in Two Acts.”) The play takes place in a bunker in Vietnam and focuses on three marines: Crockett, Dupree, and Mills, joined by a new recruit they nickname “Boot.” The plot follows the young men as they try to cope with the realities of war.
Series VI: Television Projects - General, n.d. This small series contains information about television programming, networks, directors, writers, actors and actresses.
Series VII: Television Projects - Produced, 1987-1993 This series documents Broyles’s work on several television projects including the award-winning Vietnam era series China Beach, as well as Under Cover / The Company and the television mini series J.F.K.: Reckless Youth.
A. China Beach (boxes 97-127): Broyles co-created China Beach with John Sacret Young in 1988. The series follows the lives of doctors, nurses and other civilians living on an American military base in Vietnam and stars Dana Delany, Michael Boatman, Marg Helgenberger, and Robert Picardo. Broyles wrote or co-wrote many of the early episodes, and he remained producer and creative consultant throughout the run of the show. The hour-long drama aired weekly on ABC from 1988-1991. Included among the series’ many awards is the 1990 Golden Globes award for best dramatic television series. Research, story development files, scripts, notebooks, episode files, production files, financial materials, reports, correspondence, and other administrative files document the production of China Beach. The first two series, research and story development, highlight Broyles’s early work developing the show and include files on a variety of topics including attitudes about the conflict, character backgrounds, locations, the role of American civilians in Vietnam, and medical information. Scripts (boxes 100-118) comprise the bulk of the China Beach series, They are arranged chronologically according to the date originally aired. Broyles and John Sacret Young co-wrote the Pilot that first aired in April 1988. Broyles has writing credits on four other scripts including “Home,” “Chao Ong,” and “Lost and Found” (Parts I and II). Other items of note in this series include the production files with casting, set, music, and shooting information. Any video copies of individual episodes were removed to Series XII: Videocassettes, at the end of this collection (boxes 247-248).
B. Under Cover / The Company, (boxes 128-179): In 1991, Broyles developed his second television project, Under Cover, an espionage series about a husband-and-wife secret agent team. It stars Anthony John Denison and Linda Purl. Broyles holds creator, co-writing, and co-executive producing credits, but the series was short-lived in the United States. It had a slightly more successful run in the United Kingdom as The Company. Research files, story development, scripts, notebooks, episode files, production materials, and correspondence document the production of Under Cover. The scripts series comprises the bulk of the material (boxes 137-162) and includes complete scripts for each of the aired episodes, as well as scripts for unaired episodes and outlines for incomplete ones. Any video copies of individual episodes were removed to Series XII: Videocassettes, at the end of this collection (boxes 249-261).
C. J.F.K.: Reckless Youth (boxes 180-183): In 1993, Broyles adapted the Nigel Hamilton novel, J.F.K.: Reckless Youth for television. The mini-series of the same names follows the future president during his formative first thirty years and stars Patrick Dempsey as the young J.F.K. Notebooks, script drafts, and correspondence document Broyles’ work on the teleplay.
Series VIII: Television Projects - Unproduced, 1991-1993 Between 1991 and 1993, Broyles worked on developing a handful of television projects that were never produced. Included are South Central, Hot on the Trail, and Adventure, Inc. / Angels Camp. This series includes research files, story development, scripts, correspondence, and other materials relating to the various projects.
Series IX: Film Projects - Produced, 1993-2002 In 1993, Broyles turned his attention from television projects to writing feature films. This series includes materials relating to the following films: Apollo 13 (1995), Entrapment (1999), Cast Away (2000), Planet of the Apes (2001), and Unfaithful (2002). Broyles’ work on various projects often overlapped, so this series is arranged chronologically according to the year each film was released.
A. Apollo 13 (boxes 190-198): Broyles shares his first major motion picture writing credits with former Texas Monthly writer, Al Reinert. Based loosely upon Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell’s novel Lost Moon co-written with Jeffrey Kluger, the 1995 film marks Broyles’ first collaboration with director Ron Howard.
The Apollo 13 series is arranged chronologically, reflecting the development of the project. The first subseries, correspondence (box 190), includes letters between Broyles and Michael Bostick, Broyles’ assistant, Sheila Gallion, James Lovell, and Al Reinert. The next four subseries: research, notes, story development, and scripts (boxes 190-195), highlight Broyles and Reinert’s writing process. Of note within the research files are the book proposal and typescript of Lost Moon. The scripts subseries includes multiple revisions of each draft of the screenplay. Following the scripts, there are a number of files relating to Broyles’ and Reinert’s WGA writers credit arbitration (boxes 195-196) that provide insight into the complex legalities of the craft.
The final subseries of the Apollo 13 materials are production files, publicity materials, and awards. Broyles and Reinert were nominated for an Academy Award for their work, as well as a Golden Globe, a Pen Center USA West Literary Award, and a Writers Guild Award. Of interest in the awards subseries is a videotaped message of congratulations from Ron Howard (box 197), a celebratory bottle of champagne, and numerous letters of congratulations.
B. Entrapment (boxes 199-203): In 1998, Broyles was hired to rewrite the Y2K caper, Entrapment, starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones. Broyles shares writing credits with Ron Bass and Don Macpherson, both of whom worked on earlier versions of the screenplay. Correspondence, research, scripts (including drafts by Bass and Macpherson), production materials, and videocassettes document Broyles’ contribution to the film.
C. Cast Away (boxes 204-227): The largest amount of material within the produced films series relates to Broyles’s work on Cast Away. Broyles had the idea for the original film about a FedEx delivery driver stranded on a deserted island, and he saw it through from start to finish. This series of material provides valuable insight into the process of developing and writing an original motion picture. The 2000 film was produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, directed by Robert Zemeckis, and stars Tom Hanks. Broyles’s letters and memos with these individuals can be found within the correspondence series.
The bulk of the Cast Away series is comprised of scripts. Broyles’s entire writing process is evident from his early notes to the final shooting script. In all, there are over one hundred revised versions of the script. Many contain or refer to notes by Broyles, Sheila Gallien, Tom Hanks, and Robert Zemeckis. Additional materials within the Cast Away series are production files on art, casting, and schedules; publicity records, awards, and artifacts including a promotional Wilson volleyball and a coconut tree bark mask.
D. Planet of the Apes (boxes 228-232): Broyles shares writing credits on the 2001 Tim Burton film, Planet of the Apes. The film is based on the Pierre Boule novel of the same name, and stars Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, and Helena Bonham Carter. Correspondence, research materials (including copies of Boule’s novel and previous Apes films), scripts, and writers credit arbitration files, and publicity materials document Broyles’s contribution to the film.
E. Unfaithful (box 233): This small series includes correspondence, notes, and writers arbitration materials relating to Broyles’s work on the 2002 film, Unfaithful, starring Diane Lane and Richard Gere.
Series X: Film Projects - Unproduced, 1987-1999 This series contains research materials, notes, scripts, and correspondence for a number of film projects that have not been produced. Arranged alphabetically by working title, these projects include: “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, “Earth Angel” (a.k.a. “Huey and the War Lover”), “Hard Rock: There Are No limits,” “R and R,” “Terrible Beauty: Stories From a War,” and an untitled baseball project.
Series XI: Writings by Others, 1982-1990, n.d. This series contains a number of television and motion picture scripts by other writers. Many were sent as writing samples to Broyles in his role of producer for China Beach and Under Cover. Some of the television projects represented are 21 Jump Street, Cagney and Lacey, Law and Order, Miami Vice, and Thirty-Something.
Series XII: Videocassettes, 1988-1991, n.d. This series includes VHS cassettes of China Beach and Under Cover episodes, a few dailies from these shows, as well as some ¾ inch NTSC cassettes.
Restricted. Contact the SWWC for information about access.
Gift of William Broyles, Jr.
Amanda York, Amanda Thompson, Jennifer Hecker, and Katie Salzmann, 2002 - 2005.
Detailed Description of the Collection