News | July 10, 2024

George Chakiris's West Side Story Script Plus Set Design Artwork to Auction

Heritage Auctions

The West Side Story script

A collection of material belonging to West Side Story Oscar winner George Chakiris comes to Heritage Auctions on July 25-26 featuring the actor’s scripts, movie, artwork, Golden Globe trophy, Oscar nomination plaque, and Bernardo’s leather wristband.

George Chakiris was cast as Bernardo, leader of the Sharks, in Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise’s 1961 film adaptation of the Broadway smash West Side Story for which Chakiris won the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. The Heritage Auctions sale features more than two dozen pieces from his private collection including various lots with West Side Story associations.

Leading the auction is his script in which he didn’t scribble a single note since he had memorized it all before landing the job. As Chakiris points out in his handwritten note on the screenplay’s title page, he knew every line because he’d already spent a year and a half on a London stage playing Riff, leader of the rival Jets, portrayed in the film by Russ Tamblyn. “When I did Riff for a year and a half, I was watching Ken Le Roy as Bernardo,” said Chakiris, referring to the actor who’d also played Bernardo in the original Broadway production. “It was osmosis. You’re not trying to remember everything, but you can’t help it.”

Other highlights include:

  • the leather wristband worn by Bernardo throughout the film which had been absent from the stage productions
  • the plaque sent by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when he was Oscar-nominated for West Side Story
  • the Golden Globe trophy he received in 1962 as the Best Supporting Actor of 1961
  • set design artwork depicting Anita in Doc’s Drugstore when she is harassed by the Jets, painted by Boris Leven, winner of the Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Color) Academy Award for his work on the film
  • Chakiris's scripts for the 1967 movie The Young Girls of Rochefort, one in English and one in French, the 192-page French version filled with notes and annotations in black and red ink as well as pasted in changes
  • a collection of more than 20 of Chakiris's other film and television scripts, many with his notes
  • 17 passports and Academy of Motion Pictures Art and Sciences membership cards
  • three of Chakiris's Paramount Studios contacts