Ilene Jones, William Goldman’s Wife: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Ilene Jones, William Goldman wife

Getty William Goldman pictured in 2009.

Ilene Jones was legendary screenwriter William Goldman’s wife for 30 years before their 1991 divorce. The couple had two daughters, Jenny Rebecca and Susanna, together.

The Washington Post was the first to report on November 16 that Goldman had died at the age of 87 in his Manhattan home. Jenny Goldman told the Post that her father died after suffering from complications arising from colon cancer and pneumonia. Goldman, a multiple Oscar winner, is best remembered for writing American classics such as All the President’s Men, Marathon Man and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Deadline reports that when Goldman passed away, he was surrounded by family and friends.

Here’s what you need to know about the woman who spent 30 years with Goldman:

1. Jones Is Close Friends With Robert Redford’s Ex-Wife

Robert Redford wife

GettyRobert Redford and his current wife, Sibylle Szaggars, pictured together in 2015.

In 1973, Jones’ charitable exploits along with her friend, Robert Redford’s then-wife, Lola Van Wagenen, were featured by the New York Times. The pair founded an organization, CAN (Consumer Action Now), which was a group designed to encourage people to care about the environment. The piece mentions that prior to Goldman’s writing successes, she had worked as a model Neiman Marcus.

Jones’ said of her fashion sense in the article, “I don’t own a dress. I hated those miniskirts, so, since they came in, I’ve worn nothing but pants. The last time I wore a skirt was three years ago when I went to my first bar mitzvah.” She added that she doesn’t wear much jewelry but would rather wear scarves. Jones also said, “I’m not rebelling against fashion. I don’t run around in stringy hair and tattered jeans and sneakers. But it’s not like my modeling days, when all we talked about were false eyelashes and stuff. I don’t read fashion magazines unless I’m in bed with the flu.”

2. Her Brother Was Western Actor Allen Case

Jones grew up in Dallas, her parents were Casey Jones and Nadine Allen as well as her brother, Allen Jones. Her brother became better known by his stage name, Allen Case. Case was best known for starring opposite Henry Fonda in the Western-themed TV series The Deputy. In 1986, Case died after suffering a heart attack while on vacation in Truckee, California, according to his Los Angeles Times obituary. Jones told the New York Times in 1973 that her “Texas Baptist mother” handmade all of her clothes growing up, including her underwear.

3. The Couple’s Daughter Susanna Tragically Died in 2015

The New York Times mentioned in their obituary to Goldman, that he and Jones’ daughter, Susanna died in 2015. The family was featured for a 1979 article in People Magazine where Jones was mentioned as being a photographer as the couple raised their then teenage daughters, Jenny and Susanna, in New York City. When asked why he chose to raise his family in New York rather than Los Angeles, Goldman said, “Because it’s too beautiful in Los Angeles. I’d never get any work done. Out there actors can get famous and then divorce their old wives and marry new wives because they don’t want to be reminded of who they were before. I think there’s something very important about a writer remembering his childhood and who he was.” While in 1979, Goldman told the New York Times, “I come from a businessman’s town outside of Chicago so it’s important for me to have an office like a grown‐up.” Goldman told the Guardian
in 2000 that he was teaching in Princeton in New Jersey before deciding to move his family to New York.

4. Goldman Said it Was Jones’ Decision to End Their Marriage

The Guardian’s Suzie McKenzie wrote in 2000 that Goldman spoke with a sense of “incredulity” and “helplessness” when he spoke to her about the end of his marriage. Goldman said, “It was her decision to end it, I would never have left her. I was surprised. Then I got on with it.” McKenzie said that Goldman described Jones as “literally walking out” on their marriage. Goldman would, however, write in his memoir, Hype and Glory, that in the immediate aftermath of their break-up, the couple remained “living in the same apartment.” The couple stayed together to ensure the sale of the home. Goldman also wrote that Jones’ lawyer during their divorce was having a mid-life crisis who “when she wasn’t confiding in Ilene, she was yelling at her.”

5. At the Time of His Death, Goldman Was In a Relationship With Susan Burden

At the time of his death, Goldman was living in Manhattan with his long-term domestic partner, Susan Burden. Burden confirmed Goldman’s death to the New York Times. A May 2017 article in Avenue Magazine referred to Borden as Goldman’s “long time love.” Borden is quoted in that story as being “thrilled” at the prospect of The Princess Bride musical, “We went to a table reading,” Borden says. While Goldman said, “I’ll save my dancing for joy for opening night.” The couple had been together for 19 years at the time of Goldman’s death.

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