Lucille Fletcher

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Lucille Fletcher
Born Violet Lucille Fletcher
(1912-03-28)March 28, 1912
Brooklyn, New York
Died August 31, 2000(2000-08-31) (aged 88)
Langhorne, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Citizenship American
Alma mater Vassar College
Occupation Writer
Known for The Hitch-Hiker
Sorry, Wrong Number
Spouse(s) Bernard Herrmann (1939–1948)
John Douglass Wallop III (1948-1985)
Children Dorothy Louise Herrmann
Wendy Elizabeth Herrmann

Violet Lucille Fletcher (March 28, 1912 – August 31, 2000) was an American screenwriter of film, radio and television. Her credits include The Hitch-Hiker, an original radio play written for Orson Welles and adapted for a notable episode of The Twilight Zone television series. Lucille Fletcher also wrote Sorry, Wrong Number—an episode of the series Suspense (radio drama) and one of the most celebrated plays in the history of American radio—which she adapted and expanded for the 1948 film noir classic of the same name.


Early life[edit]

Violet Lucille Fletcher was born March 28, 1912, in Brooklyn, New York. Her parents were Matthew Emerson Fletcher, a marine draftsman for the Standard Ship Company (a subsidiary of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey), and Violet (Anderson) Fletcher.[1]

After attending Public School 164 and the Maxwell Training School, Fletcher went to Bay Ridge High School and became president of the Arista honor society and editor of the school magazine. At age 17 she was declared the champion student orator at the regional competition of the National Oratorical Contest on the Constitution of the United States, sponsored by The New York Times at The Town Hall May 17, 1929. The only female finalist in the New York zone, Fletcher received an all-expenses paid trip to South America, a gold medal, a cash prize of $1,000 and an opportunity to compete for the national championship.[2] Fletcher placed third in the national competition May 25, 1929, judged by five justices of the United States Supreme Court, with an address titled, "The Constitution: A Guarantee of the Personal Liberty of the Individual."[3][4]

Fletcher attended Vassar College, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree with honors in 1933.[1][5]


From 1934 to 1939, Lucille Fletcher worked as a music librarian, copyright clerk and publicity writer at CBS.[1] There she met her future husband, composer Bernard Herrmann, who conducted the CBS orchestra. The couple dated for five years, but delayed marriage due to her parents' objections. They finally married on October 2, 1939.

Fletcher's first success came after one of her magazine stories, "My Client Curly," was adapted for radio by Norman Corwin. It was later adapted for the 1944 Cary Grant film, Once Upon a Time.[6]

According to Fletcher's daughter Dorothy Herrmann (as quoted by The New York Times), Fletcher got the idea for "Sorry, Wrong Number" when a well-dressed woman with an obnoxious manner refused to allow Fletcher to go ahead of her in the line at a local grocery on Manhattan's East Side, although she was buying food for her child, who was sick. Herrmann described the drama as an "act of revenge".[7]

The radio drama premiered in 1943 and became one of the most legendary radio plays of all time. Agnes Moorehead created the role in the first performance and again in several later radio productions. It was broadcast nationwide seven times between 1943 and 1948.[7] Barbara Stanwyck starred in the 1948 film version and, in 1952, performed the original radio play over the airwaves. A 1959 version produced for the CBS radio series Suspense received a 1960 Edgar Award for Best Radio Drama. Two operas were based on the play.[7]

Fletcher and Herrmann collaborated on several projects. He wrote the score for the November 17, 1941, radio presentation of her famous story The Hitch-Hiker on the Orson Welles Show. Fletcher adapted the Emily Brontë novel Wuthering Heights into a libretto for her husband's opera of the same name. He completed the opera in 1951, by which time they had divorced.

Fletcher is interviewed in the 1992 documentary, Music for the Movies: Bernard Herrmann, which was nominated for an Academy Award.

Personal life[edit]

Lucille Fletcher and Bernard Herrmann had two daughters, Wendy and Dorothy.[1] The couple divorced in 1948, over his affair with her cousin Kathy Lucille (Lucy) Anderson. In 1949, Bernard Herrmann married Lucy.[8]

Fletcher married Douglass Wallop, a writer, on January 6, 1949.[1] They remained married until his death in 1985.[5]

Lucille Fletcher died August 31, 2000, after suffering a stroke.[1]


Sorry, Wrong Number received the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Lucille Fletcher Wallop in Contemporary Authors Online. Gale. August 1, 2001. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
  2. ^ "Girl Orator Wins in Regional Finals. Lucille Fletcher of Bay Ridge High School Defeats Seven Boys at Town Hall." The New York Times, May 18, 1929
  3. ^ "National Oratory Won By Kansas City Boy." The Joplin Globe, May 26, 1929
  4. ^ "Missouri Boy First in Oratory Contest." The New York Times, May 26, 1929
  5. ^ a b Dewar, Heather (September 5, 2000). "Lucille Fletcher, 88, novelist and writer of radio plays". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Bernstein, Adam, "Lucille Fletcher Dies; Radio Suspense Writer"; The Washington Post, September 4, 2000
  7. ^ a b c Van Gelder, Lawrence (September 6, 2000). "Lucille Fletcher, 88, Author Of 'Sorry, Wrong Number'". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  8. ^ Music Academy Online

External links[edit]