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 Ring Lardner, Jr

Ring Lardner, Jr

Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Death 31 Oct 2000 (aged 85)
Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend
Memorial ID 22214 · View Source
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Film screenwriter/producer. One of the "Hollywood Ten," a group of ten writers, producers and directors who appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1947 and refused to answer the question, "Were you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?" Lardner was the last of the Ten to die. The others were Alvah Bessie, Dalton Trumbo, John Howard Lawson, Adrian Scott, Samuel Ornitz, Herbert Biberman, Albert Maltz, Lester Cole and Edward Dmytryk. Born Ringgold Wilmer Lardner, Jr. in Chicago, IL, he was one of four sons born to writer and humorist Ring Lardner and Ellis Abbott. Two of his three brothers - James and David died young (James was 24 when he died while serving in the Spanish Civil War as a volunteer in the Lincoln Brigade and David was 25 when he was killed by a land mine in Germany while covering World War II. His third brother, John, was 47 when he died of a heart attack in 1960). Lardner's first byline was at 4 years old, alongside a travel story titled "The Young Immigrunts," which was reportedly really written by his father. When he was 6, his father moved the family to New York, eventually settling in Great Neck, Long Island, where Ring was regularly in the company of numerous journalists and novelists. He was naturally left-handed but was taught by his parents to eat and write with his right hand which Ring believed was the cause for his childhood stuttering. He graduated from Philips Academy in Andover, MA and Princeton University. After his sophomore year in college, he traveled to Moscow Russia and enrolled at the Anglo-American Institute of the University of Moscow, a center created to encourage young Americans to support the Soviet system, converting Lardner. He returned to New York in 1935 and worked at The Daily Mirror for a short time. His Princeton roomate's father introduced Ring to David O. Selznick, who was then starting his own movie company. Ring worked in the publicity department but eventually started contributing to movie scripts. Lardner and co-worker Budd Schulberg were asked to contribute to the script for "A Star is Born." They're credited with the famous line "This is Mrs. Norman Maine speaking" at the end of the movie. Lardner, along with Michael Kanin, won an Academy Award in 1942 for "Woman of the Year," the movie that marked the first teaming of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. He went on to work on screenplays for "Meet Dr. Christian," "Courageous Dr. Christian," "The Cross of Lorraine," "Tomorrow the World," "Cloak and Dagger," "Forever Amber," among others, either as author or co-author. He was a board member of the Screen Writers Guild. During the HUAC hearings, Congressman J. Parnell Thomas of NJ, famous in his day for being agressive, told Lardner "It is a very simple question" to which he responded, "I could answer the question exactly the way you want, but if I did, I would hate myself in the morning." For his refusal to testify, Lardner was found guilty of contempt of Congress, fined $1,000 and sentenced to one year at the federal prison in Danbury, CT (where he would eventually "bec(o)me reacquainted" with Thomas - imprisoned himself for putting fictitious workers on his Congressional payroll). He was released after nine months but was on an industry blacklist - unable to work in Hollywood under his real name. He continued writing and contributing to scripts using pseudonyms during the blacklist, among them "The Forbidden Street" in 1949 and " Four Days Leave" in 1950. The blacklist was broken in 1970, when he won an Oscar for best screenplay for "M*A*S*H" (which would later become one of the most successful series on TV) and he also wrote "The Greatest" in 1977, starring Muhammad Ali. Lardner never regretted his association with Communism, telling a New York Times reporter in 1987, "...I still think that some form of socialism is a more rational way to organize a society, but I recognize it hasn't worked anywhere yet." In the 1980's, Lardner wrote two novels, "The Lardners: My Family Remembered" and "All for Love." His final book, "I'd Hate Myself in the Morning," was published posthumously (January 2001). He was famous for stating that "Margaret Mitchell's novel Gone With the Wind" would not make a good movie and that "M*A*S*H" would not translate into a successful TV series.

Bio by: Donna Di Giacomo

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 16 May 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 22214
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Ring Lardner, Jr (19 Aug 1915–31 Oct 2000), Find A Grave Memorial no. 22214, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.