The Shanks mss., 1928-2006, consist of the papers of author, screenwriter, television and film producer Bob Shanks, and photographer, author, screenwriter, television and film producer Ann Zane (Kushner) Shanks. Bob was born Robert Horton Shanks in 1932 in Sullivan, Illinois and earned a B.S. in Radio and Television from Indiana University in 1954. Ann was born in Brooklyn, New York and attended Carnegie-Mellon University and Columbia University. They were married in 1959.
Bob's credits in television as a creator, writer and/or producer include "Tonight Show" starring Jack Paar for NBC-TV, "The Morning Program" for CBS-TV, "Good Morning America" and "20/20" for ABC-TV, "Merv Griffin Show" for both NBC-TV and CBS-TV, as well as PBS's "The Great American Dream Machine." He received Emmys for the latter in 1970 and 1971 and for segments of "20/20" in 1978. He is the author of several books, including: The Cool Fire: How To Make It In Television (New York: Norton, 1976), Love Is Not Enough (New York: Norton, 1982) and The Primal Screen: How to Write, Sell and Produce Movies for Television (New York: Norton, 1986). His play "S.J. Perelman in Person" premiered at the University Theatre, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana in 1988 and in 1989 was directed by Ann in an off-Broadway production. In 1989 the Shankses moved to Australia where Bob was CEO and managing director of Northern Star Holding Ltd and 10 TV-Australia. From 1990-1993 he was a consultant to Kerry Packer, owner of Nine Network Australia, Ltd. and in 1994 a consultant to Cable Television Services in Sydney.
Ann wrote, directed and produced "Mousie Baby" and several other short films. Her photographs have appeared at the Museum of Modern Art (where she also taught), at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and in numerous magazines. She has written and produced pilots for television. Books to her credit include Old is What You Get: Dialogues on Aging by the Old and the Young (Viking: New York, 1976) and Busted Lives: Dialogues with Kids in Jail (Delacorte: New York, 1982).
Joint projects include the Emmy nominated "A Day in the Country: Impressionism and the French Landscape" for PBS, written by Bob, produced and directed by Ann; their co-produced documentary "The Avant-garde in Russia, 1910 to 1930: New Perspectives," written by Bob and winner of the 1982 ACE Award for Cable Excellence. They also produced, wrote and directed 34 episodes of the American Lifestyle series, and are five-time winners of the CINE Golden Eagle and of several film festival awards. The Shankses are also co-owners of COMCO, Inc., a television production company which they created in 1990.
The collection is organized into the following series:
I. General Correspondence
III. Production Companies
IV. Television Networks
V. General Business
Detailed lists of each series are available in the inventory
The correspondence is both personal and business-related and may be found throughout the collection. Proposals for television programs, television and film scripts, articles, book drafts, and other materials related to projects written, produced, or created by the Shankses have all been combined under the Works series. The Personal series not only contains items related to Ann and Bob such as date books, academic and political materials, but also those concerning family members including Bob's brother Billy Glenn Shanks, his father Wilbur Glenn Shanks dating from 1928, and other relatives. Also present in this series is correspondence with their three children: Jennifer (Shanks) Kingsley, Anthony and John, including materials associated with John's career as a musician and music producer. There is an extensive file of Playbill, 1982-2005, and many more programs from concerts and plays attended by the Shankses. Permission to use the financial materials must be obtained from the Curator of Manuscripts. Eighteen scrapbooks of mostly press clippings documenting the Shankses careers and personal lives complete the collection. Additions include materials received after the initial gift in 2005.
A finding aid for the collection is available.
Gift. 2005, 2006
Collection size: 29,500 items