Marion Dougherty (Posthumously) Career Achievement Award
Marion Caroline Dougherty was born in Holidaysburg, Pa., on Feb. 9, 1923. After graduating from Pennsylvania State University in 1944, she moved to New York hoping to start a career as a set designer. For a time, she earned $45 a week designing windows at Bergdorf Goodman. Then a friend at Kraft Television Theater asked her to work as a casting assistant. Six years later she became a Casting Director.
After getting her start in the early days of live television in New York, Dougherty was casting director, from 1979 until 1999, for more than 100 movies at Paramount Pictures and as vice president of casting at Warner Brothers. Her many credits include the classic films Midnight Cowboy (1969), The Sting (1973), Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1976), The Killing Fields (1984), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Gorillas in the Mist (1988) and Batman (1989).
Drawing on her experience in New York, during the 1960s Ms. Dougherty had a strong hand in reshaping the way Hollywood casts films as it moved away from the old studio system and its "cattle calls". Ms. Dougherty had a different idea. When she arrived in Hollywood she brought her index-card file filled with the names of promising actors she had spotted Off Broadway, in regional theaters and in summer stock. As a result of Dougherty's method, casting became a very selective process with only a few actors showing up, each quite different from the others and each adding a novel dimension to the character
As casting director for NBC's Kraft Television Theater from 1950 to 1958, she had found roles — some consisting of only one line — for the likes of James Dean, Paul Newman and Warren Beatty. From 1954 to 1968 she was also casting director for the popular television series Naked City and Route 66.
In 1969 Norman Lear asked Ms. Dougherty to cast the pilot for what would become one of television's landmark sitcoms, All in the Family. She recommended, to the subsequent delight of audiences worldwide, that Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton take on the roles of Archie and Edith Bunker.
In the course of her career, Dougherty fostered a constellation of future marquee names, among them Bette Midler in Hawaii (1966); Al Pacino, whom she had spotted Off Broadway, and Raul Julia in The Panic in Needle Park (1971); Christopher Walken in The Anderson Tapes (1971); Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby (1978); and Diane Lane in A Little Romance (1979). She cast Glenn Close and Robin Williams in The World According to Garp (1982), a first film for Close and first dramatic role for Williams.
Marion Dougherty was one of the first casting directors to receive a stand-alone credit at the start of a movie — Slaughterhouse Five (1972) — rather than in the so-called crawl of credits at the end.
"No casting director can truly say, 'I knew he was gonna be a star' because that's a bunch of baloney," Dougherty told The Miami Herald in 1991. "Casting is a game of gut instinct. You feel their talent and potential in the pit of your stomach. It's about guts and luck."
Marion Dougherty, whom Clint Eastwood once called "the dean of casting directors," passed away in 2011. For the pioneer role she played for all future women interested in pursuing a casting career, Marion Dougherty is posthumously receiving TheWIFTS Foundation 2012 Career Achievement Award.