Norman Krasna

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Norman Krasna
Born (1909-11-07)November 7, 1909
Queens, New York, USA
Died November 1, 1984(1984-11-01) (aged 74)
Los Angeles, California, USA
Years active 1932–1964
Spouse(s) Ruth Frazee (1940–1950)
Erle Chennault Galbraith (1951–1984)

Norman Krasna (November 7, 1909 – November 1, 1984) was an American screenwriter, playwright, producer, and film director. He is best known for penning screwball comedies which centred on a case of mistaken identity. Krasna also directed three films during a forty-year career in Hollywood. He garnered four Academy Award screenwriting nominations, winning once for 1943's Princess O'Rourke, a film he also directed.

Career[edit]

Krasna was born in Queens, New York City. He attended Columbia University and St John's University School of Law, working at Macy's Department Store during the day. He wanted to get into journalism and talked his way into a job as a copy boy for the Sunday feature department of the New York World in 1928. He quit law school, worked his way up to being a drama critic, at first for The World then the New York Evening Graphic and Exhibitors Herald World. He was offered a job with Hubert Voight in the publicity department of Warner Bros and moved to Hollywood.

He decided to become a playwright after seeing The Front Page. To learn the craft, he retyped the Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur classic more than twenty times.[1] Then while at Warners, at nights he wrote a play, Louder, Please!, based on his job and heavily inspired by The Front Page.[2] He tried to sell it to Warners who were not interested but it was picked up by George Abbott who produced it on Broadway. The play had a short run, and Krasna was then offered a contract at Columbia Pictures as a junior staff writer.[3]

He stayed at Columbia for five years, earning an Oscar nomination for The Richest Girl in the World. He also wrote a second play Small Miracle, which was very successful and really established him. He would continue to alternate between Broadway and Hollywood throughout his career.

By the mid-1930s he was working at other studios, such as MGM and Universal, and had turned producer. By the 1940s he also began to direct. During this decade he wrote two enormously popular plays, Dear Ruth and John Loves Mary.

In 1950 he and Jerry Wald formed Wald-Krasna Productions which worked out of RKO Studios for the next few years, announcing a $50 million slate of pictures.[4] They made a number of films but both Wald and Krasna became frustrated at the influence of Howard Hughes, who ran RKO at the time, so Wald bought him out and he returned to writing.[5][6]

At one point, Krasna had actor John Forsythe under contract.[7]

He moved to Switzerland but returned to Los Angeles before his death of a heart attack.

Personal life[edit]

From 1940 to 1950 Krasna was married to Ruth Frazee, with whom he had two children.[8] He married Al Jolson's widow Erle in 1951,[9] and they remained married until Krasna's death. He had six children.

Selected filmography[edit]

Unmade Scripts[edit]

  • Wonderful (circa 1936) - film for George Raft[3]
  • Hello, Russky! (mid-1950s) - a comedy about the Moiseyev Ballet with director Rene Clair[10]
  • Speak to Me of Love (1954)[11]
  • High Dive (circa 1959) - film for Jerry Wald about a water clown at a water carnival[12]
  • French Street (early 1960s)[13]

Theatre Credits[edit]

Unproduced Plays[edit]

Academy Awards[edit]

Won[edit]

Nominated[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Norman Krasna, 74, Is Dead; Playwright and Screenwriter New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 07 Nov 1984: B8.
  2. ^ McGilligan p213
  3. ^ a b KRASNA CLIMBS TO TOP OF FILM LADDER IN FOUR YEARS Graham, Sheilah. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 28 Aug 1936: 15.
  4. ^ Film Men Wald and Krasna Tell Production Plans, Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 16 Aug 1950: A8.
  5. ^ JERRY WALD IS SET TO BUY OUT KRASNA: COMPLETES DEAL FOR INTEREST IN FILM FIRM THEY SHARE -COMPANY STAYS AT R.K.O. By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 03 May 1952: 18.
  6. ^ McGilligan p228
  7. ^ Drama: Krasna Setting Deal With John Forsythe, Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 27 Apr 1956: B6.
  8. ^ NORMAN KRASNA'S WIFE GETS $262,500 FROM DIVORCE SUIT Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 28 Apr 1950: 2.
  9. ^ "Jolson's Widow Elopes With Producer". The News and Courier. 8 December 1951. Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  10. ^ McGilligan p224
  11. ^ MISS TIERNEY SET FOR KRASNA FILM: SHE WILL STAR IN 'SPEAK TO ME OF LOVE' AT COLUMBIA -- VAN JOHNSON WEIGHS ROLE By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 13 Feb 1954: 10.
  12. ^ KRASNA WRITING SCRIPT FOR FOX: PREPARING 'HIGH DIVE,' FILM ABOUT WATER CARNIVAL -- GOLDWYN REBUILDING SET By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 04 July 1958: 17.
  13. ^ a b Krasna's 'French Street' Listed For Production Next Season By LOUIS CALTA. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 19 Dec 1961: 38.
  14. ^ THE PLAY By BROOKS ATKINSON. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 05 Nov 1941: 30.
  15. ^ Theater: Filtered Play in a Minor Key: 'Love in E Flat' Opens at Brooks Atkinson By WALTER KERR. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 14 Feb 1967: 38.
  16. ^ 'We Interrupt,' Situation Thriller, Arrives By CLIVE BARNES. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 02 Apr 1975: 24.
  17. ^ Krasna 'Comedy' Offered in Montclair By JOSEPH CATINELLAMONTCLAIR. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 28 Mar 1982: NJ26.
  18. ^ Pye, Michael, and Norman Krasna. "He's not perfect-but he did know Groucho." Sunday Times [London, England] 19 Feb. 1978: 12. The Sunday Times Digital Archive. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.
  19. ^ SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: WARNERS BUY 'NIGHT ACTION' FOR HELMUT DANTINE -- FIFTH AVE. PLAYHOUSE TO REOPEN Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 27 Oct 1943: 27.
  20. ^ LOGAN, HUSTON SET FOR NEW MUSICAL: DIRECTOR AND ACTOR ARE SLATED FOR BERLIN-KRASNA SHOW, 'STARS ON MY SHOULDERS' By LOUIS CALTA. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 30 Mar 1948: 27.
  • McGilligan, Patrick, "Norman Krasna: The Woolworth's Touch", Backstory: Interviews with Screenwriters of Hollywood's Golden Age, University of California Press,1986 p212-240

External links[edit]