The Waldorf Conference • A Play

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Cast of Characters

William Goetz

William Goetz

Goetz whirled through many studio positions both as producer (Fox) and as executive. He is a financial "putter-togetherer" who always survives and easily shuttles back and forth between money and creativity.

Summoned to the Waldorf as he was trying to establish the then-new Universal-International Pictures (now Universal City Studios), he may have wanted to ingratiate himself to the other moguls whose cooperation he needed to get loan-outs of their stars. When Goetz became head of Universal in 1946 he found that he had a studio but no stars. Rock Hudson and Shelley Winters were contract players but were not yet box office draws. In 1949, however, Goetz called upon his close friendship with MCA's Lew Wasserman to obtain James Stewart for "Winchester 73" (1950) and giving Stewart a percentage of the receipts (in those days there apparently were profits), thus creating the participation deal.

Goetz was married to Edith Mayer — one of Louis B. Mayer's beloved daughters. She once described Goetz as a fast-talker whom she originally met when he persistently called her after a meeting one summer at the Ambassador Hotel until she agreed to see him. Mayer originally detested Goetz and demanded to know him how he intended to support his daughter. Goetz replied, "If necessary, Mr. Mayer, with my own two hands." Mayer melted.