John Grant (screenwriter)
27 December 1891|
Tarentum, Pennsylvania, United States
|Died||19 November 1955
Palm Desert, California, United States
|Spouse(s)||Dorothy Maye Grant|
Grant was a burlesque comedian, straight man and producer. He worked for the Mutual Burlesque wheel and the Minsky's in the 1930s. In 1938, after Abbott and Costello joined the Kate Smith radio program, they hired Grant, who was then working in Toronto, to be their head writer. The team performed their signature sketch, Who's on First?, on the program in March, 1938. Grant contributed to the sketch and every other Abbott and Costello routine on radio and, later, films. He also wrote for the Colgate Comedy Hour as well as authoring many screenplays.
Grant usually contributed to the Abbott and Costello films after other writers had done a first or second draft. He would go through the script and see where he could inject comedy routines. He usually worked alone and most of his material would be included in the final film because he was the only writer Abbott and Costello listened to. He was often on the set during filming.
During the Red Hysteria of the early 1950s, Lou Costello became convinced there was a communist conspiracy to infiltrate the film industry and demanded that his employees sign a petition swearing that had no part in any Communist work or organization. Grant would not sign and Costello fired him, meaning Grant did not work on Lost in Alaska. Grant was not blacklisted and went on to work for Martin and Lewis on Sailor Beware. Costello felt that the script to Lost in Alaska suffered because of Grant's absence and rehired him for Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd.
Along with his Abbott and Costello films, he wrote Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair (1951), Martin and Lewis's Sailor Beware (1952), Spike Jones's and Buddy Hackett's version of Fireman Save My Child (1954), and the detective drama Ring of Fear (1954) featuring Pat O'Brien and Mickey Spillane. Grant, himself, acted in "The Noose Hangs High" (1948).
Grant's contributions to Abbott and Costello
- Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955) (writer) - the only script where he received sole credit
- Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops (1955) (writer)
- Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953) (writer)
- Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953) (screenplay)
- Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952) (writer)
- Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951) (screenplay)
- Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion (1950) (writer)
- Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949) (writer)
- Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) (screenplay)(writer)
- In Society (1944) (writer)... aka Abbott and Costello in Society
- Rio Rita (1942) (special material for Abbott and Costello)
- Buck Privates (1941) (special material for Abbott and Costello)
Grant's love of burlesque and vaudeville was passed down to his daughters. He also inspired his great grandson, Ken Drab, who in 2008 became a webcomic.
He was married to former burlesque star, Dorothy Maye Grant.
- THE 'HOKIEST OF THE HOKE': Stepping Out of the Old Joke Book, Abbott and Costello Clown On the Air in Unrestrained Fashion By R.W. STEWART. The New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York City, New York] 11 Aug 1940: 110.
- Furmanek p 23-24
- Furmanek p 224
- Furmanek p 255
- Furmanek, Bob and Ron Palumbo (1991). Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. New York: Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-51605-0