December 19, 1952
Long Beach, California
Author, playwright, screenwriter
1979 – present
Linda Woolverton (born December 19, 1952) is an American screenwriter, playwright, and author who solely wrote the screenplay for Disney's animated feature film, Beauty and the Beast and co-wrote the screenplay for The Lion King. Woolverton also written the book for the musical adaptation of Beauty and the Beast and assisted in adapting The Lion King to the stage.
Woolverton was born in Long Beach, California, and graduated from high school in 1969. She enrolled at California State University, Long Beach, and receive her master's degree in theater for children at Cal State, Fullerton. Following her graduation from Cal State, Woolverton started her own children's theater, for which she performed, wrote and directed productions that traveled around the nation, while working as a substitute teacher and as an author writing two young adult novels, Starwind and Running Before the Wind.
She also began in 1979, to work as a coach to children acting in commercials. In 1980, she began a four-year stint as a development executive for CBS Television, concentrating on both children's and late-night programming. During the mid-1980s, Woolverton turned to writing episodes for Saturday morning and syndicated animated programs, such as Ducktales, Chip n' Dale's Rescue Rangers, and Teen Wolf. In 1987, desiring to work at Disney although against the advice of her talent agent, she dropped off a copy of Running Before the Wind at the office of Disney Feature Animation asking the secretary to "give it to someone to read". Two days later, she received a call from Jeffrey Katzenberg asking her to come for an interview. That same year, she was initially assigned to write a script for an untitled Winnie the Pooh theatrical film, which eventually went unproduced.
During production of Beauty and the Beast, then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner suggested the film to be written by a screenwriter. This was an unusual production move for an animated film, which is traditionally developed on storyboards rather than in scripted form. Following several unsuccessful attempts at adapting the film, Woolverton was hired to write the screenplay for Beauty and the Beast, with Don Hahn as producer, and Roger Allers as story supervisor. Before storyboarding for the film began, Woolverton wrote the initial draft, and worked with the story team to retool and develop the film. The film went on to be a critical and financial success, and became the first animated film to garner a Best Picture nomination from the Academy Awards.
The success of Beauty and the Beast led Woolverton to sign a long-term contract deal to write future Disney films. She wrote an early draft for Aladdin based on Howard Ashman's treatment, which introduced the villain initially named Jaf'far, an aged sidekick retired human thief named Abu, and a human handmaiden for the Princess. However, the script was deemed too "live action-y" for directors Ron Clements and John Musker to produce into an animated film, but she was ultimately credited with providing "pre-production story development". In 1993, she co-wrote the screenplay (with Caroline Thompson and Jonathan Roberts) for Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. For The Lion King, she wrote several early drafts of a script before turning her attentions to write the book for the Broadway adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, which opened in April 1994. The musical was critically praised, and Woolverton was later nominated for a Tony Award for Best Book in a Musical. In 1995, Woolverton signed on to write the book for the musical, Aida, with songs from Elton John and Tim Rice, which debuted on Broadway in 2000.
Woolverton co-produced and wrote the screenplay for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, released in 2010. She became the first woman to write the screenplay for a film that grossed $1 billion. After Alice in Wonderland, she became the screenwriter for Maleficent. In December 2012, it was announced she would write Alice Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, which was released in 2016.
- Linda Woolverton - Biography. IMDB.com.
- The Lion King: Film Notes.
- Adcock, Joe (May 10, 2001). 'Aida' -- the Disney version -- is coming to town. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved on November 13, 2018.
- Woolard, John (September 8, 1996). Life is a fairy tale for Disney screenwriter Linda Woolverton. Retrieved on November 13, 2018.
- Dutka, Elaine (January 19, 1992). Ms. Beauty and the Beast : Writer of Disney Hit Explains Her 'Woman of the '90s'. Retrieved on November 13, 2018.
- Thomas, Bob (1991). Disney's Art of Animation: From Mickey Mouse to Beauty and the Beast 142–7. Hyperion.
- Musker, John (February 21, 2012). John Musker Question Countdown – Number 9. Howardashman.org. Retrieved on November 13, 2018.
- Disney mad for ‘Alice in Wonderland’ sequel. Variety (December 7, 2012). Retrieved on November 13, 2018.