22 October 1906
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||20 March 1995 (aged 88)|
Oakland, New Jersey, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Madge Evans (1939–1981) (her death)|
|Awards||1934 Pulitzer Prize Best Drama|
Life and career
Kingsley was born Sidney Kirschner in New York. He studied at Cornell University, where he began his career writing plays for the college dramatic club. He joined the Group Theater for the production of his first major work. In 1933 the company performed his play Men in White. Set in a hospital, the play dealt with the issue of illegal abortion, 1930s medical and surgical practices and the struggle of one promising physician who must choose to dedicate his life to medicine or devote himself to his fiancée. The play was a box-office smash.
Kingsley followed this success with the play Dead End in 1935. A story about slum housing and its connection to crime, the piece was also fairly successful, eventually spawning the Dead End Kids. The two plays which followed, the anti-war Ten Million Ghosts of 1936 and The World We Make of 1939, were flops and had short runs.
Despite reaching the rank of lieutenant in the United States Army during World War II, sometime soon after 1951 HUAC put Kingsley's name on the Hollywood Blacklist. Being on the Blacklist is the main reason he never had a Hollywood film adaption after 1951.
In 1943, Kingsley returned to his previous success with the historical drama The Patriots. This play, which told the story of Thomas Jefferson and his activities in the young American republic, won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. Kingsley continued writing for the theater late into his career, adapting Arthur Koestler's novel Darkness at Noon for the stage in 1951, and writing Lunatics and Lovers in 1954 and Night Life in 1962.
In addition to his work for the stage, Kingsley wrote a number of scripts for Hollywood productions, mostly based on his own work. He later also wrote the scripts and templates for numerous television series and television films.
Meeting him in 1957, Michael Korda described Kingsley as "a short, powerfully built man with broad shoulders, a big head, and rough-hewn features that made him look like a bust by Sir Jacob Epstein. Kingsley hired Korda as an assistant to do research for a screenplay he was writing for CBS on the Hungarian Revolution which was eventually canceled.
- 1933: Men in White
- 1935: Dead End
- 1936: Ten Million Ghosts
- 1939: The World We Make
- 1943: The Patriots
- 1949: Detective Story
- 1951: Darkness at Noon (stage & TV adaptation)
- 1954: Lunatics and Lovers
- 1962: Night Life
Editions of Works
- Sidney Kingsley: Five Prizewinning Plays. Ohio State University Press, Columbus OH 1995. ISBN 0814206654 (Digitized full access on the publisher's page)
|1934||Men in White||Yes||No||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer||from the play by|
|1937||Dead End||Yes||No||Samuel Goldwyn Productions||based upon the play by|
|1951||Detective Story||Yes||No||Paramount Pictures||based on the play by|
|1955||Producers' Showcase||Yes||No||NBC||1 episode: “Darkness at Noon” - play|
|1957||World in White||Yes||No||CBS||CBS Pilot|
|1957^||Hungarian Revolution film||Yes||No||CBS||researched and possibly written script but never produced|
|1960||DuPont Show of the Month||Yes||No||CBS||1 episode: Men in White - novel|
|1963||ITV Play of the Week||Yes||No||ITV (England)||1 episode: Darkness at Noon - play|
|1963||Detective Story - Polizeirevier 21||Yes||No||SDR (West Germany)||play|
|1963||Sonnenfinsternis||Yes||No||HR (West Germany)||adaptation of Darkness at Noon|
|1963||The Patriots||Yes||No||NBC||NBC TV Movie - play|
|1964||Primera fila||Yes||No||TVE (Spain)||1 episode: El cero y el infinito - play|
|1968||Polizeirevier 21||Yes||No||ZDF (West Germany)||Second West German adaptation - play “Detective Story”|
|1972||Au théâtre ce soir||Yes||No||ORTF (France)||1 episode: Histoire d'un détective - play|
|1973||Serpico||No||Yes||Paramount Pictures||Provided his Manhattan apartment as a filming location (uncredited)|
|1974||Alta Comedia||Yes||No||Canal 9 (Argentina)||1 episode: Uniforme blanco|
|1976||Great Performances||Yes||No||PBS||1 episode: The Patriots - play/teleplay|
|1971, 1978||Estudio 1||Yes||No||TVE (Spain)||2 episodes: Historia de detectives (1978), Historias de detectives (1971)|
|1978||Teatro estudio||Yes||No||TVE (Spain)||1 episode: Historia de detectives|
^film never produced
- Flint, Peter B. "Sindney Kingsley, Playwrite, Is Dead at 88; Creator of 'Dead End' and 'Men in White'". The New York Times.
- "The 'red menace' in Hollywood". Terra Media.
- Derby Daily Telegraph, 26 July 1939
- Korda, Michael (1999). Another Life: A Memoir of Other People. Random House. pp. 14–24. ISBN 9780679456599.
That was true enough, I thought, though not very nice of Sidney to say. "What's the lesson?" I asked. "Ah, the lesson. Never forget that people who pay a writer always have much, much more money and power than he does, whether it's a publishing house, a movie studio, or a television network. With that in mind,"--his voice changed to a fair imitation of W.C. Fields--"'Never give a sucker an even break.' You can go now."
- The Stage, 30 December 1965
- "Theater Hall of Fame Gets 10 New Members". New York Times. May 10, 1983.
- Flint, Peter B. "Sidney Kingsley, Playwright, Is Dead at 88; Creator of Dead End and Men in White", The New York Times, March 21, 1995. Accessed May 25, 2016. "Sidney Kingsley, who brought the gritty drama of mean city streets into the theater in plays including Dead End and Detective Story and who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1933 for his first Broadway play, Men in White, died yesterday at his home in Oakland, N.J."
- Belfast News-Letter, 10 March 1936
- Torbay Express and South Devon Echo, 3 January 1939
- The Stage, 17 January 1963