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October 25, 2014

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Fate of ‘Godfather’ script, not sold to ‘Pawn Stars,’ has surprise ending

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Sam Morris

A script from the movie “The Godfather,” inscribed by producer Al Ruddy, is seen in the possession of Catholic Charities along with photos of Ruddy on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011. The inscription reads, “Bob - It cost me a lot of money but there’s one thing I got. Ulcers. Thanks, Al.”

Godfather Script

A script from the movie Launch slideshow »

Al Ruddy, who produced the blockbuster movie “The Godfather,” was more than happy to help a Las Vegas charity sell a leather-bound, studio copy of the screenplay, which he had signed and which had somehow landed in one of the charity’s donation bins.

And until Wednesday, he had no idea what would come of it.

Ruddy learned that the screenplay was in circulation when he saw an official with Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada appear on the popular cable TV show “Pawn Stars,” asking how much she could get for it. She was offered $500, and she declined.

Part of the discussion on the TV show was, who wrote an inscription in the front of the 158-page screenplay and signed it “Al”? Was that Al Pacino, as a signature authenticator for the show claimed?

“That’s my signature,” Ruddy exclaimed to no one in particular when he saw the show on TV.

After the charity decided to sell the screenplay at auction, Ruddy, a big supporter of the work done by the organization, contributed some extra Hollywood memorabilia, photographs from “The Godfather” movie set, even videotaped congratulatory remarks for the eventual owner, thinking the goodies would boost the value of the screenplay on behalf of the charity.

He was certainly pleased that the screenplay fetched $12,000 at auction last week.

But it turns out the buyer has no need for any of the movie memorabilia, photos or the congratulations that Ruddy videotaped for the buyer.

The screenplay was bought by his wife, Wanda McDaniel. And on Wednesday at their home in Beverly Hills, she carefully set it down on the table next to Ruddy’s morning omelet.

“I was flabbergasted,” Ruddy said.

What motivated his wife to buy it for him? “I have no idea,” he said. “You want me to be the first guy to explain how a woman’s mind works?”

Said McDaniel: “I have a very creative and talented husband who has managed to win two Oscars (best-picture awards for “The Godfather” in 1972 and “Million Dollar Baby” in 2004), and I like to have things in twos to make our two children happy. So I wanted a second studio copy of the ‘Godfather’ screenplay.”

McDaniel, who works with the entertainment industry as executive vice president of Giorgio Armani, said she learned of the wayward screenplay after she received a Google news alert about her husband that linked to a Las Vegas Sun article explaining that it was him, and not “Godfather” actor Al Pacino, who had autographed the screenplay.

She was distracted last week, dealing with celebrities attending the upcoming Grammy Awards, but had circled the auction date. With co-workers surrounding her and watching, she bid for the screenplay on her iPad from her office.

There were a couple of counter-bids but after she punched in 12,000 as the clock clicked down, the screenplay was hers.

How high was she willing to bid? She paused. “I don’t know. It’s priceless.”

One of the reasons, at least for her: the inscription that her husband wrote to Robert Evans, who headed production at Paramount Studios at the time. Ruddy wrote on a blank page at the front of the screenplay, “Bob — It cost me a lot ... but there’s one thing that I got ... ulcers — Thanks — Al.”

“Ulcers, that’s a word you don’t hear too often any more,” McDaniel chuckled.

She said of her winning bid: “It was for a wonderful charity, and this is a wonderful legacy for our family.”

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  1. Great story.

  2. A great ending for Catholic Charities.

  3. I don't like when people attack Pawn Shops, they are businesses, they buy low and sell high, that's what they do. On the other hand, charities are non profit, they will hold auctions in hopes to raise money for their organizations and most times obtain more than what items are worth due to generous charity givers. Like in this case, Wanda McDaniel purchased this script as a gift to her husband at a higher than retail price. Husband got a nice gift, charity received a nice 12k for their cause, everyone is happy. This was not a business transaction.

  4. Omar...

    Right on the money.

  5. Pawn shops are usury. They take advantage of those in need of quick cash who don't have the time or the knowledge to know they can do much better.

    Folks, don't patronize pawn shops unless you absolutely have to do so. Pawn shops will only give you, at most, half the value of an item if you're selling it. And, if you take a loan out on the item the interest rates are several times the market rate for other industries. Take the time and effort to sell your item on eBay instead. Or, have a friend or relative hold the item in exchange for a loan.

  6. William...

    Again, Pawn Shops are businesses, businesses conduct transactions to make a profit, or they go out of business, people have the option of never going to a Pawn Shop. If they do though, they should not pawn or sell the item and walk away with it if they feel they are being ripped off, nobody is holding a gun to their heads to come in. Personal responsibility is a dying art in this country :(

  7. Folks,

    I had hoped the comments wouldn't focus on pawn shops. This is a story about the fate of a movie screenplay, not about the pros and cons of doing business with a pawn shop. Everyone in this town, of all places, should understand the business model of pawn shops, which clearly have a role in the local economy -- otherwise we wouldn't see so many of them. :-)

  8. Great follow up story and kudos to the wife who wanted something for her family and for her it was priceless.

  9. The script went to there it belongs, the charity gets a huge deposit along with some great PR and a wife does something wonderful for her husband... A great movie script right there, waiting to be made...

    Great story