Lyricist, screenwriter, and playwright Jo Swerling, who wrote or co-authored dozens of Hollywood screenplays in the 1930s and ’40s, including It’s a Wonderful Life, Lifeboat, Pennies from Heaven, Platinum Blonde, and The Pride of the Yankees, was born in Berdichev, Ukraine on this date in 1897. He grew up on New York’s Lower East Side and began his writing career as a journalist and sketch-writer for vaudeville. Among his early creative projects was Street Cinderella, a Marx Brothers comedy, and an unreleased silent comedy called Humor Risk (1921), also for the Marx Brothers. For the Broadway stage, Swerling wrote The New Yorkers (1927) and co-authored (with Abe Burrows) the book for Guys and Dolls (1950) and (with Edward G. Robinson) The Kibitzer (1929). He died at 67 in 1964.
“Lou Gehrig: Is it three strikes, Doc?
Clinic doctor: You want it straight?
Lou Gehrig: Sure, straight.
Clinic doctor: It’s three strikes.” –Jo Swerling, The Pride of the Yankees