Gelbart died last month (Sep09) after a battle with cancer but in an interview conducted a year before his passing, he blamed the actor for declaring it was his pal Murray Schisgal who conceived of the 1982 comedy, about an entertainer who dresses as a woman to find work.
But Gelbart, who won an Academy Award for co-writing the film, was adamant the idea for the screenplay was his own.
He told Mike Sacks, “Tootsie is my vision, despite Dustin Hoffman’s lifelong mission to deprive anybody of any credit connected with that movie, except for his close friend, the writer and producer Murray Schisgal.
“I say that because Dustin appeared with James Lipton on (TV series) Inside the Actors Studio in 2006 and declared that the Tootsie idea sprang from Schisgal’s intestines. I don’t know much about gastroenterology, but I do know that the central theme for Tootsie came from me. And the central theme was that Dustin’s character, Michael Dorsey, would become a better man for having been a woman. That was the cornerstone of the film. All of the other details are just floating around that idea.”
Gelbart shared his Best Original Screenplay Oscar with Schisgal and Don McGuire.