Jane Murfin

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Jane Murfin
Jane Murfin in 1923
Jane Macklem

(1884-10-27)October 27, 1884
Quincy, Michigan, United States
DiedAugust 10, 1955(1955-08-10) (aged 70)
California, United States
OccupationPlaywright, screenwriter, producer, director

Jane Murfin (October 27, 1884 – August 10, 1955) was an American playwright and screenwriter. The author of several successful plays, she wrote some of them with actress Jane Cowl—most notably Smilin' Through (1919), a sentimental fantasy that was adapted three times for motion pictures. In Hollywood Murfin became a popular screenwriter whose credits include What Price Hollywood? (1932), for which she received an Academy Award nomination. In the 1920s she wrote and produced films for her dog Strongheart, the first major canine star.

Life and career[edit]

Jane Murfin with Strongheart (1923)

Jane Macklem was born October 27, 1884, in Quincy, Michigan. In 1907 she married attorney James Murfin, and retained his surname when the marriage ended fewer than five years later.[1]

Murfin began her career with the play Lilac Time, which she co-wrote with actress Jane Cowl. The Broadway production opened February 6, 1917, and ran for 176 performances. Later that year the two women began collaborating, often under pseudonym Allan Langdon Martin,[2] on a series of revivals of World War I melodramas.[3] The pair later collaborated on Daybreak, followed by Information Please (1918) and Smilin' Through (1919).

In Hollywood, Murfin became a leading screenwriter, writing many romantic comedies and dramas by herself or in collaboration.[4]

Murfin ordering the placement of lights on a film she is directing (1924)

In 1920, director Laurence Trimble persuaded Murfin to purchase a German Shepherd dog—Strongheart—that became the first major canine film star.[5][6][7] Strongheart starred in four films that Trimble directed from Murfin's screenplays: The Silent Call (1921), Brawn of the North (1922), The Love Master (1924) and White Fang (1925).[8]

Murfin is credited with directing one film, Flapper Wives (1924),[9] before the dissolution of her partnership with Trimble. Film historian Kevin Brownlow described this partnership as both professional and personal; although some sources describe Trimble and Murfin as a husband-and-wife filmmaking team, no marriage has been substantiated.[1]

Murfin's later screenwriting credits include Way Back Home (1931), Our Betters (1933),[10] The Little Minister (1934), Spitfire (1934), Roberta (1935), Alice Adams (1935), The Women (1939), Pride and Prejudice (1940), and Dragon Seed (1944).[11]

Murfin was married to director and actor Donald Crisp from 1932 until 1944.[4]

She is buried near Jane Cowl at Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Murfin was married first to lawyer James Murfin from 1907 to 1912. Her second marriage was to actor Donald Crisp, for whom she would write parts in her scripts; the marriage lasted from 1932 to 1944.[3]


Murfin and Adela Rogers St. Johns were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Story for What Price Hollywood? (1932). Frances Marion received the award, for The Champ.

Theatre credits[edit]

Date Title Notes
February 6 – July 1917 Lilac Time Theatre Republic, New York City; written with Jane Cowl[2]
Basis for the 1928 film[11]
August 14 – October 1917 Daybreak Harris Theatre, New York City; written with Jane Cowl[2]
Basis for the 1918 film[11]
October 2 – November 1918 Information Please Selwyn Theatre, New York City[2]
Basis for the film A Temperamental Wife (1919)[11]
December 30, 1919 – May 1920 Smilin' Through Broadhurst Theatre, New York City; written with Jane Cowl, as Allan Langdon Martin[2]
Basis for film adaptations in 1922, 1932 and 1941[11]
October 21 – November 1929 Stripped Ambassador Theatre, New York City[2]

Select filmography[edit]

Murfin is credited as a writer; additional production credits are noted.

Ad for Marie, Ltd. (1919)
Poster for Brawn of the North (1922)
Postcard for The Love Master (1924)
Window card for What Price Hollywood? (1932)
Lobby card for The Women (1939)
Year Title Notes
1919 Marie, Ltd. [11]
1919 The Right to Lie [11]
1920 The Amateur Wife [11]
1921 The Silent Call [11]
1922 Brawn of the North Also producer[11]
1924 The Love Master Also producer[11]
1924 Flapper Wives Also producer, director[11]
1925 White Fang [11]
1925 A Slave of Fashion [11]
1926 The Savage [11]
1926 Meet the Prince [11]
1927 The Notorious Lady [11]
1927 The Prince of Headwaiters [11]
1929 Street Girl [11]
1929 Half Marriage [11]
1929 Dance Hall [11]
1929 Seven Keys to Baldpate [11]
1930 The Runaway Bride [11]
1930 Lawful Larceny [11]
1930 Leathernecking [11]
1930 The Pay-Off [11]
1931 Too Many Cooks [11]
1931 Friends and Lovers [11]
1931 Way Back Home [11]
1932 Young Bride [11]
1932 What Price Hollywood? [11]
1932 Rockabye [11]
1933 Our Betters [11]
1933 The Silver Cord [11]
1933 Double Harness [11]
1933 Ann Vickers [11]
1933 After Tonight [11]
1933 Little Women [11]
1934 Spitfire [11]
1934 This Man Is Mine [11]
1934 The Crime Doctor [11]
1934 The Life of Vergie Winters [11]
1934 The Fountain [11]
1934 The Little Minister [11]
1935 Romance in Manhattan [11]
1935 Roberta [11]
1935 Break of Hearts [11]
1935 Alice Adams [11]
1936 Come and Get It [11]
1937 That Girl from Paris [11]
1937 I'll Take Romance [11]
1938 The Shining Hour [11]
1939 Stand Up and Fight [11]
1939 The Women [11]
1940 Northwest Passage [11]
1940 Pride and Prejudice [11]
1941 Andy Hardy's Private Secretary [11]
1943 Flight for Freedom [11]
1944 Cry "Havoc" [11]
1944 Dragon Seed [11]


  1. ^ a b Buck, Julie (September 27, 2013). "Jane Murfin". Women Film Pioneers Project. Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, Columbia University Libraries. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Jane Murfin". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Jane Murfin – Women Film Pioneers Project". wfpp.cdrs.columbia.edu. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Katz, Ephraim (1998). Klein, Fred; Nolen, Ronald Dean (eds.). The Film Encyclopedia (3rd ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 990. ISBN 0-06-273492-X.
  5. ^ Trimble, Laurence (1926). Strongheart; The Story of a Wonder Dog. Racine, Wis.: Whitman Publishing Company. OCLC 4451141.
  6. ^ "Laurence Trimble Dies". The New York Times. February 10, 1954. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  7. ^ "Dog Hero of Films Dies". The New York Times. June 25, 1929. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  8. ^ "Strongheart". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  9. ^ "Flapper Wives". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  10. ^ Mordaunt Hall (February 24, 1933). "Constance Bennett, Violet Kemble-Cooper and Grant Mitchell in a Film of a Somerset Maugham Play". The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh "Jane Murfin". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  12. ^ Jane Murfin at Find a Grave

External links[edit]