The Daily Camera of Boulder, Colorado, once turned down the now-famous novelist

By Oliver Gettell
Updated March 14, 2016 at 10:12 PM EDT
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Credit: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

More than 40 years ago, a young novelist sent an unsolicited pitch to write film reviews for the Daily Camera of Boulder, Colo., offering to provide “amusement of the paper’s readers and a thumbnail guide for area moviegoers.”

The offer was declined, but the novelist ended up doing pretty well for himself: His name is Stephen King.

A recent article in the Camera chronicles how the future author of The Shining, Misery, It, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, and The Dark Tower sent a typewritten letter and two sample reviews to the paper’s features editor back in 1974. (The samples were Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and Robert Altman’s California Split.)

“I don’t want to write snotty avant-garde reviews of obscure foreign films,” King wrote, “but I would like the chance to shake down what’s playing at the Boulder or the Fox or the Basemar Twin Cinemas once or twice a week.”

King was 26 at the time, living in the area with his family, and his debut novel Carrie was out in hardback but not yet a hit. In the pitch letter, King said he thought criticism should have “a local touch” and be entertaining.

He also added, “By the way, I work cheap.”

Nonetheless, the paper didn’t enlist King’s services.

“We didn’t have a job for him,” Laurence “Laurie” Paddock, the Camera’s editor from 1960 to 1992, recalled. But perhaps it was for the best.

“He couldn’t have gone on like that,” Paddock said. “He’s a novelist making millions of dollars and he wouldn’t have made that as a newspaper reporter. But it would have been nice to have him among our alumni.”

Read the full story, including King’s letter and reviews, at the Daily Camera.

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