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 Helene Hanff

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Helene Hanff

  • Birth 15 Apr 1916 Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Death 9 Apr 1997 Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
  • Burial Glendale, Queens County, New York, USA
  • Memorial ID 7547442

Author/Playwright. Helene Hanff grew up with a passion for writing and reading. This passion led her to New York City to pursue her dream of breaking into theatre as a playwright. She worked for New York's Theatre Guild as a publicist and assistant. The Guild produced mostly flops, but did score a big hit with the play, "Oklahoma!" Hanff was credited as an assistant in that production. Her early experiences in New York led to her first book, a biography, "Underfoot in Show Business," a humorous and touching account of her early days in New York's theatre district. Although her plays were never produced, she did break into television in the 1950s, writing scripts for Hallmark Hall of Fame, Playhouse 90, and Ellery Queen. The sore lack of availability in New York of the English literature she craved to read, led her to correspondence with a second hand bookstore, Marks & Co. and a 20+ years friendship with the manager of the store, Frank Doel. This friendship was chronicled in a series of letters and published as "84, Charing Cross Road," which was produced first as a play starring Ann Jackson and later as a movie, starring Anne Bancroft, with Anthony Hopkins protraying Frank Doel in the film. Ultimately, she was able to visit England, but not in time to meet her dear friend, Frank, who died as a result of peritonitis. Along the way, she published other books about her life, including "The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street," an account of her first visit to England, and later, "Letter from New York," transcripts of Miss Hanff's BBC Women's Hour broadcast, which detailed her life in New York City. New York City was a beloved home to her and led to the publication of a quirky, anything but typical guide to the city entitled "Apple Of My Eye." Miss Hanff never married, and died as a result of complications from diabetes and pneumonia.

Bio by: Susan Richardson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Laurie
  • Added: 7 Jun 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7547442
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Helene Hanff (15 Apr 1916–9 Apr 1997), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7547442, citing Mount Lebanon Cemetery, Glendale, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .