Sidney Kingsley

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Sidney Kingsley
Born
Sidney Kirschner

(1906-10-22)22 October 1906
Died20 March 1995(1995-03-20) (aged 88)
OccupationPlaywright
Years active1933–1977
Spouse(s)Madge Evans (1939–1981) (her death)
Awards1934 Pulitzer Prize Best Drama

Sidney Kingsley (22 October 1906 – 20 March 1995) was an American dramatist. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play Men in White in 1934.

Life and career[edit]

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.

Handbill for the original Broadway production of Men in White
Handbill for Darkness at Noon, 1953

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.[1][2] 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.

His marriage to actress Madge Evans in 1939[3] lasted until her death in 1981. The couple lived together in their 18th century Oakland, New Jersey home for 42 years.

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.[4] 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.[4]

In 1964, Kingsley was elected president of the Dramatists Guild of America[5] and in 1983, he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.[6]

Kingsley died of a stroke on March 20, 1995, in his home in Oakland, New Jersey.[7]

Works[edit]

Editions of Works[edit]

  • Sidney Kingsley: Five Prizewinning Plays. Ohio State University Press, Columbus OH 1995. ISBN 0814206654 (Digitized full access on the publisher's page)

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Writer Crew Production Company Credit
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
1948 Homecoming Yes No Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer story
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

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Flint, Peter B. "Sindney Kingsley, Playwrite, Is Dead at 88; Creator of 'Dead End' and 'Men in White'". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "The 'red menace' in Hollywood". Terra Media.
  3. ^ Derby Daily Telegraph, 26 July 1939
  4. ^ a b 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."
  5. ^ The Stage, 30 December 1965
  6. ^ "Theater Hall of Fame Gets 10 New Members". New York Times. May 10, 1983.
  7. ^ 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."
  8. ^ Belfast News-Letter, 10 March 1936
  9. ^ Torbay Express and South Devon Echo, 3 January 1939
  10. ^ The Stage, 17 January 1963

External links[edit]