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Entertainment Briefs for June 19, 2010

| June 19, 2010 9:00 PM

Mark Twain paper fetches $242K

NEW YORK - Mark Twain's never published "A Family Sketch" - a tribute to his daughter who died at 24 after contracting spinal meningitis - sold at auction Thursday for $242,500, far outpacing pre-sale estimates.

The document was a tribute to Olivia "Susy" Clemens, who inspired two of his stories.

The sale price surpassed the original estimate of $120,000 to $180,000. Sotheby's did not identify the buyer.

The 64-page, handwritten document was among a trove of 200 Twain letters, manuscripts and photographs.

"Any Mark Twain archive or collector would be willing to go hungry for two or three years just in order to be able to buy it," Robert Hirst, general editor of the Mark Twain Papers & Projects at the University of California at Berkeley, said in a recent interview. The university holds the largest repository of Twain material.

Hirst called it a "very intimate family record, with all of the charm both of Clemens himself," his family and household servants. Twain was the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens.

"She was a magazine of feelings, & they were of all kinds & of all shades of force," Twain wrote of Susy in the sketch shortly after her death in 1896. She was also the inspiration for his "Joan of Arc" and "A Horse's Tale."

"In all things she was intense: in her this characteristic was not a mere glow, dispensing warmth, but a consuming fire," he wrote.

The writer, a native of Hannibal, Mo., known for his curmudgeonly wit and storytelling, was also a prolific letter-writer. Twain biographer Michael Shelden said about 15,000 of his missives are known to exist.

The total collection, which sold for more than $2.2 million - more than the auction house estimate of $750,000 to $1.2 million, belonged to the late media executive James S. Copley, whose library of other literary and historic manuscripts also were being sold.

The University of California, which controls the copyright on "A Family Sketch" and virtually everything else by Mark Twain that is still protected by copyright, is editing and publishing Twain's uncensored autobiography in its entirety for the first time. The first of three volumes will be released by the UC Press in November, on the 175th anniversary of his birth.

Ferrera engaged to marry Williams

LOS ANGELES - America Ferrera is adding bride to her list of credits.

A spokeswoman for the 26-year-old actress and producer says the "Ugly Betty" star is engaged to marry her longtime boyfriend, Ryan Piers Williams.

Publicist Carrie Byalick did not provide further details.

Ferrera won an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her portrayal of Betty Suarez on ABC's "Ugly Betty," which wrapped last year after four seasons.

She and Williams met at the University of Southern California when he cast her in his student film.

According to the movie database, Williams also wrote and directed the film "The Dry Land," due for release later this summer and starring Ferrera.

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