Devery Freeman

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Devery Freeman, born Feb. 13, 1913 in Brooklyn, died Oct 07, 2005 in Los Angeles was a screen writer, novelist and union activist who helped to establish the Writers Guild of America. His negotiations with studios resulted in the guild's right to determine film writing credits. He was the brother of writer/producer Everett Freeman.

Youth and World War II[edit]

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 13, 1913 to Jewish parents, Freeman attended Brooklyn College and began his career writing short stories for the Saturday Evening Post, the New Yorker and the British magazine Punch. After Pearl Harbor, he volunteered for service in the U.S. Navy, went through officer training and then was assigned to Armed Forces Radio, becoming one of the co-founding members of the Navy unit of Armed Forces Radio, where he wrote training films and entertainment programs for sailors and marines.

Career[edit]

During the war, he had experienced how screen writers were almost completely ignored by the studio brass and received close to no artistic recognition in movies they wrote. After his discharge from the Navy, he therefore lobbied among fellow writers for the foundation of a Screen Writers organization. In the era of McCarthy, such efforts were closely observed and met with suspicion. He nonetheless succeeded and became one of the founding members of the Screen Writers' Guild and in 1954 was responsible for its reorganization in the Writers Guild of America. His efforts resulted in securing the right of writers to determine motion picture writing credits and establishing the system under which the guild determines those credits. He later served as secretary-treasurer and board member of the guild, as well as on the board of trustees of the Motion Picture and Television Fund and on the board of the Writers Guild Foundation. In the 1950s and 1960s, Freeman wrote for the radio program "The Baby Snooks Show" starring comedian Fanny Brice. When MGM offered him work as a staff writer in Hollywood, he moved to the West Coast and subsequently wrote some 20 motion pictures, including Main Street Lawyer, The Thrill of Brazil, The Guilt of Janet Ames, Tell It to the Judge, Borderline, Three Sailors and a Girl, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Dance With Me Henry. and Miss Grant Takes Richmond.[1] He wrote the Red Skelton movies, The Yellow Cab Man and Watch the Birdie,worked on motion pictures like Universal's "Francis Joins the WACs" and "Francis in the Navy" featuring Donald O'Connor and a talking mule. For television, Freeman worked on shows like "Playhouse 90" and wrote and produced several series, including "The Loretta Young Show." He also created the successful television western series "Sugarfoot," starring Will Hutchins. During his years in television, he served as an executive at CBS for three years, responsible for shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show, Jack Benny, I Love Lucy, Sea Hunt, and The Beverly Hillbillies.[1] In later years, he wrote a novel about a military school, "Father Sky," that was turned into the 1981 motion picture "Taps," starring Timothy Hutton, George C. Scott, Sean Penn and Tom Cruise. Leonard Stern, a fellow writer who worked on "Get Smart" with him said in a statement by the Writers Guild of America, West: "His love of language never went unfulfilled in his writing, and he never exempted himself from the concerns and problems of writers," [2] when announcing Freeman's death on behalf of WGA.

Family[edit]

Freeman, a widower was survived by sons Seth and Jonathan. In 2006, his son Seth donated his father's extensive archive to the Brooklyn College Library Archive.[3]

Death[edit]

Freeman, who had been in poor health since the 1990s due to cardiac problems had to undergo heart surgery in March 2005 and, never fully recovering, died of heart failure in Los Angeles on Oct 10, 2005. He was buried at Mount Sinai Memorial Park, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles.

Awards[edit]

Writers' Guild of America's award for outstanding television drama in 1957 for his work on "The Great American Hoax" starring Ed Wynn, based on a story by Paddy Chayefsky.

Writers Guild Service Award for his decades of work in the organization (1982)

References[edit]

External links[edit]