|Million Dollar Baby, a film directed by Clint Eastwood based on the short stories of the late F.X. Toole from the collection Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner won four Academy Awards. The film received seven nominations in all and won in the following categories: Best Picture; Director, Clint Eastwood; Actress in a Leading Role, Hilary Swank; and Actor in a Supporting Role, Morgan Freeman. Better known as the Oscars, the 77th Annual Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2004 was presented at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland and televised live by the ABC Television Network on Sunday, February 27, 2005.
Other nominations the film received but did not win were Actor in a Leading Role, Clint Eastwood; Film Editing; and Writing (Adapted Screenplay). The movie Finding Neverland also received seven nominations, and The Aviator was the only film this year to exceed that number with 11 nominations, but it was Million Dollar Baby that practically swept the awards.
The character of Maggie Fitzgerald for which Swank won the Best Actress award was first introduced in a story entitled "Million $$$ Baby" in the collection Rope Burns, published in 2000 by Ecco Press, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. The collection was the debut of Jerry Boyd, at the age of seventy, writing under the pen name of F.X. Toole. Toole had held a variety of occupations during his life, including a stint as a bullfighter, inspired by the reading of a Hemingway novel. The six stories in Rope Burns were drawn from his experience in the world of boxing as a cut man and trainer. Two years following publication, F.X. Toole died of complications from heart surgery. Upon his death, he was in the finishing stages on a boxing novel. His first story in print was "The Monkey Look," published in Zyzzyva in 1999, later collected in Rope Burns.
Screenwriter Paul Haggis, primarily a TV writer, was driving along the Santa Monica freeway when he first heard of F.X. Toole while listening to a National Public Radio (NPR) "Morning Edition" show that featured an interview of the first-time author. Haggis optioned the film rights quickly thereafter. NPR has since done additional features on Toole, the most recent a profile called "F.X. Toole's Fight for Success" by Tom Vitale which aired for the program "All Things Considered" on February 19, 2005, reporting that when the movie went into production, Toole's children received a quarter of a million dollars.
The film opened in December of 2004; the DVD released in July of 2005.