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Ronald Bass

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Subject: Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, Amelia (film), Rain Man, The Joy Luck Club (film), 1998 in film
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Ronald Bass

This article is about the screenwriter. For the professional wrestler see Ron Bass.
Ronald Bass
Born Ronald Jay Bass
(1942-03-26) March 26, 1942
Los Angeles, California

Ronald Bass (born March 26, 1942), sometimes credited as Ron Bass, is an American screenwriter. Also a film producer, Bass's work is characterized as being highly in demand, and he is thought to be among the most highly paid writers in Hollywood. He is often called the "King of the Pitches". In 1988, he received the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Rain Man, and films that Bass is associated with are regularly nominated for multiple motion picture awards.


  • Life and career 1
  • “The Ronettes” 2
  • Works 3
    • Novels 3.1
    • Films 3.2
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Life and career

Bass was born in Los Angeles, California. From the age of 3 to 11, Bass was afflicted with an undiagnosed condition that kept him bedridden. His symptoms included respiratory problems and stomach pains with high fevers and nausea. It was during this illness, at age six, that Bass is said to have started writing.

During his teens, Bass began work on a novel, which he entitled Voleur. He completed this work at age 17 and showed it to his English teacher. He took her critique of his first completed project quite hard. She described the writing as very good, but she felt that it was too personal to be published. Bass's response was to later burn his manuscript. Later in life, Bass recalled "it was like the voice of God telling me I didn't have what it takes to be a writer, and I should find something practical to do with my life". Bass would revisit his teenage writings later in life.

Bass entered law studies, first at Stanford, then Yale, and finally at Harvard Law School, where he graduated in 1967 with a degree in law. He seemed quite confident about his future prospects, saying, "When I learned there was such a thing as entertainment law, I thought, 'This is where I belong'". Back in Los Angeles, Bass began a seventeen-year career practicing law in the entertainment business. He was successful, and eventually rose to the level of partner in his law firm.

Bass has worked with his sister Diane Bass, who served as an uncredited technical consultant on the film Rain Man.

As he moved up the career ladder in law, the love of writing that Bass had acquired as a child never left him. He started writing again, usually during the predawn hours before going to work. Writing and working at unusual hours became a lifelong habit of his. In 1974, he began to rework his novel Voleur, apparently from memory, as he had—in a fit of pique—burned the manuscript when he was 17. In 1978, he completed the work, renaming it The Perfect Thief (ISBN 0-515-04622-1). This was the first of his three published novels. In 1982, Bass published his second novel, Lime's crisis: A novel (ISBN 0-688-01025-3). The Lime referred to in the title is Harry Lime, the central mystery character of the 1949 motion picture The Third Man. On January 1, 1984, his third novel was published, The Emerald Illusion (ISBN 0-688-02622-2). The following year, he wrote the screenplay Code Name: Emerald, based on this novel. It was his debut as a screenwriter with a produced script.

As a screenwriter, Bass is known for successfully working in collaboration with other writers, including Amy Tan on The Joy Luck Club and Al Franken on When a Man Loves a Woman.

Bass is currently producing the upcoming film The Moon and the Sun.

“The Ronettes”

A small controversy has arisen over Bass's use of assistants to help him write screenplays. While it is common for screenwriters to employ assistants to help them with research and typing, Bass employs six or seven mostly female assistants that one journalist dubbed “The Ronettes”. According to Bass, his assistants help him in research and also in critiquing his scripts. They enable him to write, revise, or polish a comparatively large number of screenplays per year.[1]



  • The Perfect Thief, 1978, ISBN 0-515-04622-1
  • Lime's crisis: A novel, 1982, ISBN 0-688-01025-3
  • The Emerald Illusion, January 1, 1984, ISBN 0-688-02622-2


Please see the WGA screenwriting credit system for an explanation of the terms story by, screenplay by, and written by. Also note that under the rules of the Writers Guild of America, Bass has not received onscreen credit for every script he has contributed to. It is thought that Bass has helped to write or consulted on more than 100 screenplays (not all of which have necessarily been produced).

Film Year Writing Credit Producing Credit Alternate Name Credit Additional Information
The Moon and the Sun 2015 screenplay
Before We Go 2014 screenplay
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan 2011 screenplay
Amelia 2009 screenplay executive producer
Mozart and the Whale 2005 written producer as Ron Bass
The Lazarus Child 2004 screenplay executive producer
Passion of Mind 2000 written producer as Ron Bass
Snow Falling on Cedars 1999 screenplay producer as Ron Bass
Entrapment 1999 story & screenplay executive producer as Ron Bass
Swing Vote 1999 written as Ron Bass made for television
Invisible Child 1999 story as Ron Bass made for television
Border Line 1999 story & teleplay as Ron Bass made for television
Stepmom 1998 screenplay executive producer as Ron Bass
What Dreams May Come 1998 screenplay executive producer as Ron Bass
How Stella Got Her Groove Back 1998 screenplay executive producer as Ron Bass
My Best Friend's Wedding 1997 written producer
Waiting to Exhale 1995 screenplay executive producer
Dangerous Minds 1995 screenplay
Reunion 1994 teleplay made for television
When a Man Loves a Woman 1994 written executive producer role as "AA man #1"
The Enemy Within 1994 teleplay as Ron Bass made for television
The Joy Luck Club 1993 screenplay producer
Sleeping with the Enemy 1991 screenplay
Rain Man 1988 screenplay Oscar for Best Original Screenplay
Gardens of Stone 1987 screenplay
Black Widow 1987 written
Code Name: Emerald 1985 screenplay adapted from his novel The Emerald Illusion


  1. ^

External links

  • Ronald Bass at the Internet Movie Database
  • Bass's entry at the Screenwriter's Utopia
  • A Harvard Alumni article on Bass
  • Commentary on Bass from
  •, lists "milestones" in Bass's life
  • Bio page from the official website of How Stella Got Her Groove Back
  • A brief excerpt from Reuters/Variety occurs toward the end of this page from Talent
  • A article featuring a sidebar bio on Bass
  • A bio from
  • An interview with Sight & Sound
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