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Stuart Ullman
Stuart Ullman 002
Stuart Ullman
Continuity: The Shining
Notability: Supporting character
Type: Hotel manager
Gender: Male
Location: Colorado
Associations: Overlook Hotel
Status: Alive
1st appearance: The Shining
Actor: Barry Nelson
Elliott Gould

Stuart Ullman is a fictional hotel manager and a supporting character featured in the The Shining franchise. He first appeared in the 1977 horror novel The Shining by author Stephen King. A version of Stuart Ullman was featured in the 1980 feature film adaptation of The Shining by director Stanley Kubrick where he was played by actor Barry Nelson. A more faithful version of Ullman is presented in the 1997 television miniseries Stephen King's The Shining, where he was played by actor Elliott Gould.

Biography Edit

King version Edit

Stuart Ullman was the manager of the luxurious Overlook Hotel in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado near the town of Sidewinder. Ullman took great pride in not only his job, but in the presence and legacy of the hotel as well, believing that a hotel such as that deserved nothing but the best in terms of care and upkeep. Oddly however, Ullman was also very cheap, and was known for cutting financial corners wherever he could. Although he was the manager, Stuart still answered to a board of directors. Most of his staff regarded him as something of a bastard, but it was an appellation that Ullman took to with pride, believing one had to be something of a bastard in order to properly administer the day-to-day operations of a hotel as great as the Overlook in the manner in which he believed it deserved.

Stuart Ullman was very knowledgeable of the hotel's history, including its various scandals. Its unclear whether he was aware of the ghostly presences in the hotel, but he made certain to hush up any story that would earn the hotel even the slightest bad publicity. Ullman's seasonal caretaker was a man named Watson, who hated Stuart with a passion and took every opportunity to call him every name in the book.

The board of directors of the Overlook hired a man named Jack Torrance to work as their winter caretaker. This was facilitated through a friend of Jack's named Al Shockley, who was Jack's sponsor at Alcoholics Anonymous, and also had ties to the Overlook. Stuart Ullman was fiercely opposed to the decision to hire Torrance, and was aware of Jack's history with alcohol, but also a violent episode that cost him his previous teaching job at Stovington Preparatory School in Vermont.

Kubrick version Edit

Stuart Ullman

Barry Nelson as Stuart Ullman.

Stuart Ullman was the manager of the Overlook Hotel in the late 1970s. He had hired Jack Torrance as the winter caretaker of the hotel, and charged him with the upkeep of the entire estate while the rest of the staff were away on holiday.

Ullman presented himself to Jack as affable and engaging, as well as producing a sense of encouragement to Jack for the tasks he is about to take on. He had his secretary Suzie bring Jack some coffee, and invited one of his assistant managers, Bill Watson, to attend the interview with them. [1]

During the interview, Stuart Ullman warned Jack about the dangers of isolation and cabin fever, and even told him about a previous tragedy wherein a former caretaker, Charles Grady, murdered his wife and daughters with an axe before taking his own life. Jack reassured him that "that is not going to happen to me". [2]

Notes & Trivia Edit

Stuart Ullman - Miniseries

Elliott Gould as Stuart Ullman in the 1997 The Shining miniseries.

  • The character of Stuart Ullman was created by author Stephen King.
  • The presentation of Stuart Ullman is radically different between the novel and the film. In the novel, Ullman hated Jack Torrance and did not want him working at the hotel. He admits that his decision was overridden by the hotel's board of directors, and makes several barbed remarks about Jack's history with alcohol. In the Kubrick movie however, Stuart Ullman is very affable and engaging with Jack Torrance, and is excited to have him working with him.
  • In the novel, Jack Torrance describes Stuart Ullman as an "officious little prick". This is actually the opening paragraph of the book.
  • The location of Stuart Ullman's office in the movie makes no geographical sense due to the presence of the window behind his desk. If one follows Jack's path from the front desk of the hotel to where the receptionist directs him to Ullman's office, it would be adjacent to the main lobby. As such, there should not be a window facing outside. It has been said that Stanley Kubrick deliberately made the layout of the hotel confusing so as to accent the supernatural presence of the building by subtly creating a sense of discomfort for the viewer.
  • There is a lot of Americana vs. Native American imagery found in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. The hotel is replete with Native American decor and there are also several images evoking American patriotism in the film, including images of American eagles and Ullman's wardrobe, which includes a business jacket and tie that are red, white, and blue. Ullman himself mentions how the Overlook Hotel was built atop an Indian burial ground. There is also a small American flag on Ullman's desk.
  • In the feature film, Stuart Ullman identifies the previous caretaker as Charles Grady. Later in the film, he is identified as Delbert Grady. The Shining is infamous for its numerous script re-writes, oftentimes with actors not knowing what their dialogue was going to be until the day of shooting. It is possible that Grady's given name may have been changed at some point during the re-writes, and was never corrected later in the film.
  • The final fate of Stuart Ullman is unknown. In all versions of the Shining story, Ullman is alive at its conclusion.
  • In the film, Stuart Ullman was not the manager of the hotel during the Delbert Grady murders, which occurred in the winter of 1970. In the novel, the Grady murders occurred the previous winter prior to Jack's arrival at the Overlook and Ullman was in fact the manager at the time.
Ullman meets Jack

"Is that a paper tray on your desk, Stu, or are you just happy to see me?"

  • One of the more outlandish conspiracy theories concerns Stuart Ullman's apparent arousal upon meeting Jack Torrance. Jay Weidner posits that when Ullman first shakes hands with Jack, the crotch of his pants lines up perfectly with the paper tray on his desk, giving the imagery of having a large erection. [3]
  • Actor Barry Nelson also had an uncredited role as an actor on a television screen in the 1982 film Poltergeist. Coincidentally, that film also deals with ghosts who target a young child, and somehow tennis balls work their way into the mix in this one too [See below for the Stuart Ullman/Tennis ball connection].

Is Ullman a ghost? Edit

  • There is a deleted scene from the American release of the film that takes place at the end of the movie, following the death of Jack Torrance. In the scene, Wendy Torrance and Danny Torrance are recurring from their traumatic experiences at the Overlook Hotel when they are visited by Stuart Ullman. Ullman, who has never met Wendy or Danny, invites them to come stay with him at his estate in Los Angeles. The scene concludes with Ullman tossing Danny a tennis ball. The tennis ball is significant in that this was how Danny was invited into the horrors going on at the hotel when a tennis ball came rolling out towards him, seemingly from nowhere. This scene is what ultimately led Danny to inspect Room 237. For whatever reason, Kubrick decided not to use this scene and destroyed the footage.
  • Writer and podcaster Suzen Tekla Kruglnska addressed her own theories concerning this deleted scene on the second episode of her podcast, The Shining 237, which examines the movie in installments that covers exactly 2 minutes and 37 seconds of the film. She details the events stated above and issues her own belief that Ullman was a ghost who may have been trying to coax the Torrances into his territory (so to speak), in order to once again get a foothold on Danny Torrance, and the psychic power that he wields. Ullman's motives seem impure in light of a line of dialogue where he tells Wendy and Danny that nothing out of the ordinary was discovered at the hotel. One would think a dead chef lying on the floor of the building would count as "out of the ordinary".
  • A possible reason why Kubrick excised the scene is that the Ullman ghost is predicated upon the notion that the forces governing the Overlook Hotel covet Danny's power, which is established in the novel, but is never implied in the Kubrick film.[5]
  • One element that would refute the notion of Ullman being a ghost is his interaction not only with Jack Torrance, but also with Bill Watson and his secretary, Suzie, as well as the front desk receptionist who directs Jack to Ullman's office. Unless they are all ghosts, it is unlikely that a ghost would be able to solidly interact with the living in such an overt fashion.
  • Another detail that casts doubt upon the theory is the traditional depiction of ghosts in fiction. Ghosts are notoriously territorial and often bound to the location in which they died. This is not to say that ghosts cannot travel from one spot to another, but the idea of an Overlook ghost interacting with people outside the sphere of influence of the hotel seems unlikely.

See also Edit

External Links Edit

Appearances Edit

References Edit

  1. It should be noted that Bill Watson's role in the film is never clearly defined. In the TV miniseries, his name is changed to Pete Watson, and he is the seasonal caretaker of the Overlook, whom Jack is replacing.
  2. Well, Jack was only partially right in this assessment, but it wasn't for lack of trying!
  3. Room 237 (documentary); Directed by Rodney Ascher. Supposition and voiceover provided by Jay Weidner (January 23rd, 2012).
  4. IMDB; Barry Nelson; Biography overview.
  5. The Shining 237: Sad Sandwiches and Happy Conspiracies; Suzen Tekla Kruglnska & Megan Dooley (October 14th, 2017).

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