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Tom Davis papers

 Collection
Call Number: GEN MSS 1523

Scope and Contents

The collection comprises the papers of comedian and writer Tom Davis. Davis was best known for being one-half of the comedy duo Franken & Davis, with comedian, writer, and former United States Senator Al Franken, and for their work as writers and performers on the television program, Saturday Night Live. Materials in the collection document Davis’ life and work, and include scripts, episode rundowns, and other materials related to Saturday Night Live; writings by Davis, including movie screenplays and drafts of his memoir, 39 Years of Short-Term Memory Loss; correspondence; photographs; clippings; audiovisual materials; and ephemera.

Dates

  • 1975 - 2012

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Boxes 51-56 (audiovisual materials): Restricted fragile. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Tom Davis Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, Inc. on the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund, 2016.

Arrangement

Organized in five series: I. Saturday Night Live, 1975-2011; II. Film Projects, 1977-2008; III. Writings, 1977-2012; IV. Personal Papers, 1977-2012; V. Audiovisual Materials, 1977-2009.

Extent

56 Linear Feet (55 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

https://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.tomdavis

Overview

The collection comprises the papers of comedian and writer Tom Davis. Davis was best known for being one-half of the comedy duo Franken & Davis, with comedian, writer, and former United States Senator Al Franken, and for their work as writers and performers on the television program, Saturday Night Live. Materials in the collection document Davis’ life and work, and include scripts, episode rundowns, and other materials related to Saturday Night Live; writings by Davis, including movie screenplays and drafts of his memoir, 39 Years of Short-Term Memory Loss; correspondence; photographs; clippings; audiovisual materials; and ephemera.

Biographical / Historical

Tom Davis (1952-2012) was an American writer and comedian, best known for his comedy writing partnership with Al Franken and their work on the television program, Saturday Night Live (SNL). He was born Thomas James Davis on August 13, 1952 in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he grew up and befriended Franken while both were students at the Blake School in Minneapolis. After graduation, Franken went to college at Harvard University, while Davis attended the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. Davis withdrew from college after a year and returned to the Twin Cities area to pursue a career in comedy. After Franken graduated from Harvard, the two moved to Los Angeles, California to perform stand-up comedy, and were discovered by SNL creator Lorne Michaels, who hired them as two of the show’s first writers. Notably, Franken and Davis were offered a single apprentice job as a duo by the writer’s union and were paid a single salary. Their writing credits for SNL were subsequently attributed to “Franken & Davis.”

Davis worked for SNL from 1975 to 1980, and again from 1986 to 1994. During his tenure on the show, Davis created or co-created many notable sketches, including “Theodoric of Yorik, Medieval Barber,” “Nick the Lounge Singer,” “The Continental,” and “Coneheads.” In addition to his writing work for SNL, Davis wrote many screenplays for films, including the 1993 film, Coneheads. He also wrote several screenplays for films that were never produced, including an adaptation of the Kurt Vonnegut novel, The Sirens of Titan (co-written with Grateful Dead member, Jerry Garcia), and a third installment of the original Ghostbusters film series (co-written with Dan Aykroyd). In 2009, Davis published his memoir, Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss, and in 2012 he co-authored the book Owsley and Me: My LSD Family with Rhoney Gissen. The latter book chronicled the life of Grateful Dead sound engineer, Owsley “Bear” Stanley and his role in the 1960s counterculture in San Francisco, California.

In 2009, Davis was diagnosed with throat and neck cancer and died on July 19, 2012 at age 59. He was survived by his wife, Mimi Raleigh, whom he married in 1991.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections as they are acquired, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

Prior to receipt the collection was preliminarily organized by Jennifer Thompson Elder on behalf of Mimi Raleigh. After receipt the collection received a basic level of processing, including rehousing and minimal organization, by Beinecke Library staff

Information included in the Description of Papers note and Collection Contents section is drawn from information supplied with the collection and from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the creator or previous custodian. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Otherwise, folder titles are supplied by staff during initial processing.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Concert posters were deaccessioned and returned to Mimi Raleigh in May 2019. Boxes 49 and 50 no longer exist in the collection.

Creator

Title
Guide to the Tom Davis Papers
Author
by Matthew Gorham and Jennifer Garcia
Date
February 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

Contact:
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977

Location

121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.