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The Death of Harold Pinter

Playwright Harold Pinter, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2005, died in London at 78 on this date in 2008. Pinter was evacuated from that city during World War II and experienced numerous instances of British antisemitism in the course of his childhood, but he was always reluctant to identify passionately as a Jew […]

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Writing Bogie’s Best Lines

The twin screenwriters Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein, who with Howard Koch co-authored the screenplay for the 1942 classic film Casablanca,for which they won an Academy Award, were born in New York on this date in 1909. After attending Penn State together, Philip became an actor and Julius a boxer (they both boxed at Penn State) […]

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Clifford Odets

Radical playwright and screenwriter Clifford Odets, whose Depression-era dramas Waiting for Lefty and Awake and Sing! were cultural sensations that had enduring impact on his generation of writers, was born to Jewish immigrants in Philadelphia on this date in 1906. Raised in the Bronx, he dropped out of high school to pursue acting, and became a founding actor in Harold Clurman’s […]

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Jenji Kohan

Jenji Kohan, the creator of TV’s “Weeds” and “Orange Is the New Black,” was born in Los Angeles to a show biz family on this date in 1969. She has also worked as a writer or producer on “The Gilmore Girls,” “Mad About You,” “Tracey Takes On . . .” and several other shows, and has […]

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The Master of Radio Drama

Norman Corwin, one of the most popular radio writers during the Golden Age of radio drama in the 1930s and ’40s, was born in Boston on this date in 1910. Corwin brought culture, historical consciousness, and progressive patriotism to the airwaves, with such radio plays as  Spoon River Anthology (1939), We Hold These Truths (1941), […]

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Ben Hecht

Ben Hecht, a writer of wide-ranging accomplishments and great fame and influence who became especially active in American Zionist efforts to save Jews from the Holocaust, died at 70 on this date in 1964. Hecht’s screenplays included The Front Page (1931), Scarface (1932), Gunga Din (1939), Angels Over Broadway (which he also directed, in 1940), […]

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It’s a Wonderful Life

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 […]

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Tales in a Jugular Vein

Crime, horror and science fiction writer Robert Bloch, who wrote the novel Psycho, which Alfred Hitchcock adapted into his groundbreaking film, was born in Chicago on this date in 1917. In the course of his prolific career, Bloch won the Hugo Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Edgar Allen Poe Award, the Fritz Lieber Fantasy […]

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March 9: Splash

Three Jewish writers — Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, and Bruce Jay Friedman — wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Splash, a romantic comedy film that was released on this date in 1984 and introduced Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah (neither of them Jewish) to stardom. The movie, about a powerful romantic bond between a mermaid and […]

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