Philip Yordan in San Diego, 1988.
(Photo: Alison Morley)
April 1, 1914|
|Died||March 24, 2003
La Jolla, California
|Alma mater||University of Illinois, Chicago-Kent College of Law|
Philip Yordan (April 1, 1914 — March 24, 2003) was an American screenwriter of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s who also produced several films. He was also known as a highly regarded script doctor. Born to Polish immigrants, he earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois and a law degree at Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Philip Yordan was born to Jews on April 1, 1914 in Chicago, Illinois. From a young age he had taken an interest in writing. As a teenager, he ran a mail-order beauty supply business out of the family basement. Yordan was an avid fan of detective stories; he contemplated a career as a writer. After graduating from high school, he earned a law degree but became dissuaded and pursued writing, eventually becoming a screenwriter.
Some of his films include The Chase (1946), Whistle Stop (1946), House of Strangers (1949), Houdini (1953), Broken Lance (1954), Johnny Guitar (1954), The Big Combo (1955), The Harder They Fall (1956), The Bravados (1958) with Men in War (1957) and God's Little Acre (1958), officially credited to Yordan, but the two films actually were written by Ben Maddow. He worked several times in collaboration with independent producer Samuel Bronston and contributed to the screenplays of such films as King of Kings (1961), El Cid (1961), 55 Days at Peking (1963), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), Circus World (1964), and Night Train to Terror (1985).
- Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay for Detective Story (1951), and for Best Writing, Original Screenplay for Dillinger (1945).
- Won an Academy Award for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story for Broken Lance (1954), which was actually a remake, reset in the West, of the earlier House of Strangers, also credited solely to Yordan although written in part by the film's director Joseph L. Mankiewicz who declined to share a co-writing credit.
- Won a 1952 Edgar Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay, for Detective Story (along with credited cowriter Robert Wyler, and Sidney Kingsley, the author of the original stage play).
He was married four times. Upon his death he was survived by his fourth wife, five children, and two grandchildren.
- "Philip Yordan: The Chameleon. Interview by Pat McGilligan". publishing.cdlib.org. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
- Rode, Alan K. (2009). "The Philip Yordan Story" (PDF). Noir City Sentinel.
- Bergan, Ronald (9 April 2003). "Philip Yordan, Prolific Hollywood screenwriter who fronted for victims of the McCarthyite witchhunt". theguardian.com. Retrieved 2014-12-25.