Michael Blake, author of “Dances with Wolves” died Saturday of heart failure in Tucson, Ariz. He was 69. His life’s work as an author and screenwriter is available at the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections in the College of University Libraries and Learning Sciences.
On March 24, 2011, University Libraries Associate Dean Mike Kelly found himself holding an oscar while sitting in the living room of Wolf House, Blake’s Tucson desert ranch.
Blake, a former UNM student, won the Oscar for his screenplay “Dances with Wolves.” Kelly’s visit to Wolf House was to pick up Blake’s archives of screen plays, manuscripts, photographs, correspondence and books.
Understandably, the Oscar was not donated as part of the collection.
Blake was born in North Carolina, but spent much of his early life in New Mexico, first stationed at Walker Air Force Base and later as a journalism student at UNM.
Although he never received a degree from UNM, he has maintained a close association with New Mexico. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the American Library Association’s Library Hero Award.
In 1986, encouraged by his friend Kevin Costner, Blake turned a script idea into a novel called “Dances with Wolves.” Costner purchased the film rights for the novel. In 1989, Blake wrote the screenplay for the film to be directed and starred in by Kevin Costner. In 1990, “Dances with Wolves” won every major film award including seven Academy Awards.
Blake’s impressive collection documents his creative work including ten published novels, over 30 screen plays, poetry, newspaper stories and essays. The collection includes records of Blake’s humanitarian endeavors documenting his passion for wild horses and the gray wolf.
The Blake Collection is an important resource for students of film history, film and media production and screen writing.