The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research provides access to multiple collections that shed light on the early period of Robert Altman's career. These Altman related holdings include:
McGilligan is a a film journalist and biographer, who has traced the careers of George Cukor, Jack Nicholson, Robert Riskin, and Fritz Lang, among others. For his 1989 biography of Altman, Robert Altman: Jumping off the Cliff, McGilligan recorded interviews with an array of Altman's collaborators from across his long career, with extensive and unmatched attention to his life and work before M*A*S*H. In addition to these taped interviews, the McGilligan collection includes clippings, drafts of the biography, and two rare short films directed by Altman, The Perfect Crime and The Model's Handbook.
The United Artists (UA) collection is the largest and most comprehensive collection in the WCFTR's holdings, documenting every aspect of motion picture sales and distribution. Included in the UA holdings are records of the conception of the company's short-lived attempt at television production, including the engineering adventure show Troubleshooters. Altman served as an unofficial producer on the series and directed fourteen of its twenty-six episodes, all of which can be found in the WCFTR's holdings.
Though it is not comprehensive, the WCFTR's Robert Altman collection contains production material from a vitally important period in Altman's career, 1969-1972. The collection consists of files on five films released from 1970 to 1973: M*A*S*H, Brewster McCloud, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Images, and The Long Goodbye. Included are drafts of scripts, correspondence, production records, and promotional material.
Holdings that document Altman's early career can also be found in several other WCFTR collections, including its Film Collections, its collection of Photos and Promotional Material, and the papers of David Dortort, creator and producer of Bonanza, the long-running television western for which Altman directed eight episodes between 1960 and 1961. Additionally, the Wisconsin Historical Society's International Harvester Film Collection contains what is likely Altman's first directorial effort, the 1949 industrial film Honeymoon for Harriet.