George Jean Nathan

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George Jean Nathan
George Jean Nathan in 1928
Born(1882-02-14)February 14, 1882
DiedApril 8, 1958(1958-04-08) (aged 76)
  • Drama critic
  • magazine editor

George Jean Nathan (February 14, 1882 – April 8, 1958) was an American drama critic and magazine editor. He worked closely with H. L. Mencken, bringing the literary magazine The Smart Set to prominence as an editor, and co-founding and editing The American Mercury and The American Spectator.

Early life[edit]

Nathan was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the son of Ella (Nirdlinger) and Charles Naret Nathan.[1] He graduated from Cornell University in 1904. There, he was a member of the Quill and Dagger society and an editor of the Cornell Daily Sun. There is some evidence that Nathan was Jewish and sought (successfully) to conceal it. ["The Forward, July 15, 2020, "The Jewish Backstory behind 'All about Eve'" Benjamin Ivry]

Relationships and marriage[edit]

Though he published a paean to bachelorhood (The Bachelor Life, 1941), Nathan had a reputation as a ladies' man and was not averse to dating women working in the theater. The character of Addison De Witt, the waspish theater critic who squires a starlet (played by a then-unknown Marilyn Monroe) in the 1950 film All About Eve was based on Nathan.[citation needed] He had a romantic relationship with actress Lillian Gish, beginning in the late 1920s and lasting almost a decade. Gish repeatedly refused his proposals of marriage.[2]

Nathan eventually married considerably younger stage actress, Julie Haydon, in 1955.


Nathan died in New York City in 1958, aged 76.


The George Jean Nathan Award, an honor in dramatic criticism, is named after him. Nathan is also a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame.[3]


  1. ^ "George Jean Nathan |".
  2. ^ Albin Krebs, "Lillian Gish, 99, a Movie Star Since Movies Began, is Dead", The New York Times, March 1, 1993.
  3. ^ "Theater Hall of Fame members". Retrieved February 9, 2014.

External links[edit]