Irwin Shaw

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Irwin Shaw
Irwin Shaw.jpg
Irwin Shaw in his CUNY years.
BornIrwin Gilbert Shamforoff
(1913-02-27)February 27, 1913
Bronx, New York City, United States
DiedMay 16, 1984(1984-05-16) (aged 71)
Davos, Switzerland
OccupationPlaywright, Screenwriter, Novelist
NationalityAmerican
Notable works Bury the Dead (1936)
The Young Lions (1948)
Rich Man, Poor Man (1969)
Beggarman, Thief (1977)
Notable awards O. Henry Award (1944, 1945)
National Institute of Arts and
Letters Grant
(1946)
Playboy Award (1964, 1970, 1979)
Honorary Doctorate, Brooklyn College
SpouseMarian Edwards (1916-1996)
Website
www.irwinshaw.org

Irwin Shaw (February 27, 1913 May 16, 1984) was an American playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and short-story author whose written works have sold more than 14 million copies. He is best known for two of his novels: The Young Lions (1948), about the fate of three soldiers during World War II, made into a film of the same name starring Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift, and Rich Man, Poor Man (1970), about the fate of two siblings after World War II. In 1976, it was made into a popular miniseries starring Peter Strauss, Nick Nolte, and Susan Blakely.

<i>The Young Lions</i> 1948 novel

The Young Lions (1948) is a novel by Irwin Shaw about three soldiers in World War II.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

<i>The Young Lions</i> (film) 1958 film by Edward Dmytryk

The Young Lions is a 1958 American World War II film drama in black-and-white and CinemaScope from 20th Century Fox. The film, directed by Edward Dmytryk, is based upon the 1948 novel of the same name by Irwin Shaw. It stars Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and Dean Martin.

Contents

Personal life

Shaw was born Irwin Gilbert Shamforoff in the South Bronx, New York City, to Jewish immigrants from Russia. [1] His parents were Rose and Will. His younger brother, David Shaw, became a noted Hollywood producer and writer. [2] Shortly after Irwin's birth, the Shamforoffs moved to Brooklyn. Irwin changed his surname upon entering college. He spent most of his youth in Brooklyn, where he graduated from Brooklyn College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1934.

South Bronx area of the Bronx borough in New York City

The South Bronx is an area of the New York City borough of the Bronx. As the name implies, the area comprises neighborhoods in the southern part of the Bronx, such as Concourse, Mott Haven, Melrose, and Port Morris. The South Bronx is known for its hip hop culture and graffiti.

Jews in Russia have historically constituted a large religious diaspora; the vast territories of the Russian Empire at one time hosted the largest population of Jews in the world. Within these territories the primarily Ashkenazi Jewish communities of many different areas flourished and developed many of modern Judaism's most distinctive theological and cultural traditions, while also facing periods of anti-Semitic discriminatory policies and persecutions. The largest group among Russian Jews are Ashkenazi Jews, but the community also includes a significant proportion of other non-Ashkenazi Diasporan Jewish groups, such as Mountain Jews, Sephardic Jews, Crimean Karaites, Krymchaks, Bukharan Jews, and Georgian Jews.

Brooklyn Borough in New York City and county in New York state, United States

Brooklyn is the most populous borough of New York City, with an estimated 2,648,771 residents in 2017. Named after the Dutch village of Breukelen, it borders the borough of Queens at the western end of Long Island. Brooklyn has several bridge and tunnel connections to the borough of Manhattan across the East River, and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge connects Staten Island. Since 1896, Brooklyn has been coterminous with Kings County, the most populous county in the U.S. state of New York and the second-most densely populated county in the United States, after New York County.

During World War II Shaw was approached by William Wyler to join his film unit. Unable to be commissioned due to his age and 1-A draft status, [3] Shaw decided to enter the regular army. Noting his background the Army sent to him to George Stevens film unit, [4] one of four writers attached to Stevens' command where he was commissioned a warrant officer.

William Wyler American film director, producer and screenwriter

William Wyler was an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Notable works include Ben-Hur (1959), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), and Mrs. Miniver (1942), all of which won Academy Awards for Best Director, as well as Best Picture in their respective years, making him the only director of three Best Picture winners as of 2018. Wyler received his first Oscar nomination for directing Dodsworth in 1936, starring Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton and Mary Astor, "sparking a 20-year run of almost unbroken greatness."

George Stevens American film director

George Cooper Stevens was an American film director, producer, screenwriter and cinematographer.

Warrant officer (United States)

In the United States Armed Forces, the ranks of warrant officer are rated as officers above senior non-commissioned officers, candidates, cadets, and midshipmen but subordinate to the officer grade of O‑1. This application differs from the Commonwealth of Nations and other militaries, where warrant officers are the most senior of the other ranks, equivalent to the US Armed Forces grades of E‑8 and E‑9.

Shaw died in Davos, Switzerland on May 16, 1984, aged 71, after undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. [5]

Prostate cancer male reproductive cancer

Prostate cancer is the development of cancer in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Most prostate cancers are slow growing; however, some grow relatively quickly. The cancer cells may spread from the prostate to other areas of the body, particularly the bones and lymph nodes. It may initially cause no symptoms. In later stages, it can lead to difficulty urinating, blood in the urine or pain in the pelvis, back, or when urinating. A disease known as benign prostatic hyperplasia may produce similar symptoms. Other late symptoms may include feeling tired due to low levels of red blood cells.

Career

Drama

Shaw began screenwriting in 1935 at the age of 21, and scripted for several radio shows, including Dick Tracy , The Gumps and Studio One. He recaptured this period of his life in his short story "Main Currents of American Thought," about a hack radio writer grinding out one script after another while calculating the number of words equal to the rent money:

<i>Dick Tracy</i> Comic strip featuring Dick Tracy

Dick Tracy is an American comic strip featuring Dick Tracy, a tough and intelligent police detective created by Chester Gould. The strip made its debut on October 14, 1931, in the Detroit Mirror. It was distributed by the Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate. Gould wrote and drew the strip until 1972. Since that time, various artists and writers have continued the strip, which still runs in newspapers today. Dick Tracy has also been the hero in a number of films, notably one in which Warren Beatty played the crime fighter in 1990. Writer Tom De Haven praised Gould's Dick Tracy as "a weird, demented, and outrageously funny American Gothic", while comics historian Brian Walker described Dick Tracy as a "ghoulishly entertaining creation" which had "gripping stories filled with violence and pathos".

Furniture, and a hundred and thirty-seven dollars. His mother had always wanted a good dining-room table. She didn't have a maid, she said, so he ought to get her a dining room table. How many words for a dining-room table?

Shaw's first play, Bury the Dead (1936) was an expressionist drama about a group of soldiers killed in a battle who refuse to be buried. His play Quiet City , directed by Elia Kazan and with incidental music by Aaron Copland, closed after two Sunday performances.

Bury the Dead (1936) is an expressionist and anti-war drama by the American playwright Irwin Shaw. It dramatizes the refusal of six dead soldiers during an unspecified war—who represent a cross-section of American society—to be buried. Each rises from a mass nameless grave to express his anguish, the futility of war, and his refusal to become part of the "glorious past". First the Captain and the Generals tell them it is their duty to be buried, but they refuse. Even a Priest and a Rabbi try to convince them to no avail. Newspapers refuse to print the story in fear it will hurt the war effort. Finally they bring in the women who have survived them, wives, sister and even mother. None succeed in the end. It was first staged in New York City in 1936 to great acclaim.

Expressionism modernist art movement

Expressionism is a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas. Expressionist artists have sought to express the meaning of emotional experience rather than physical reality.

Quiet City is a 1939 play by Irwin Shaw.

During the 1940s, Shaw wrote for a number of films, including The Talk of the Town (a comedy about civil liberties), The Commandos Strike at Dawn (based on a C.S. Forester story about commandos in occupied Norway) and Easy Living (about a football player unable to enter the game due to a medical condition). Shaw married Marian Edwards (daughter of well-known screen actor Snitz Edwards). They had one son, Adam Shaw, born in 1950, himself a writer of magazine articles and non-fiction.

Shaw summered at the Pine Brook Country Club, located in the countryside of Nichols, Connecticut, which became the 1936 summer home of the Group Theatre (New York), whose roster included Elia Kazan, Harold Clurman, Harry Morgan, John Garfield, Frances Farmer, Will Geer, Clifford Odets and Lee J. Cobb. [6] [7]

Novels and Miniseries

The Young Lions , Shaw's first novel, was published in 1948. Based on his experiences in Europe during the war, the novel was very successful and was adapted into a 1958 film. Shaw was not happy with the film.

Shaw's second novel, The Troubled Air , chronicling the rise of McCarthyism, was published in 1951. He was among those who signed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the John Howard Lawson and Dalton Trumbo convictions for contempt of Congress, resulting from hearings by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Accused of being a communist by the Red Channels publication, Shaw was placed on the Hollywood blacklist by the movie studio bosses. In 1951 he left the United States and went to Europe, where he lived for 25 years, mostly in Paris and Switzerland. He later claimed that the blacklist "only glancingly bruised" his career. During the 1950s he wrote several more screenplays, including Desire Under the Elms (based on Eugene O'Neill's play) and Fire Down Below (about a tramp boat in the Caribbean).

While living in Europe, Shaw wrote more bestselling books, notably Lucy Crown (1956), Two Weeks in Another Town (1960), Rich Man, Poor Man (1970) (for which he would later write a less successful sequel entitled Beggarman, Thief ) and Evening in Byzantium [8] (made into a 1978 TV movie).

Rich Man, Poor Man was adapted into a highly successful ABC television miniseries with six 2-hour episodes shown for February 1 to March 15, 1976. The series ranked third in the seasonal Nielsens and garnered twenty-three Emmy nominations. A further adaptation, which Shaw had very little to do with, Rich Man, Poor Man--Book II was aired from Sept. 21, 1976, to March 8, 1977. This was not as successful as the first series. [9] [10]

His novel The Top of the Hill was made into a TV movie about the Winter Olympics at Lake Placid in 1980, starring Wayne Rogers, Adrienne Barbeau, and Sonny Bono. [11]

His last two novels were Bread Upon the Waters (1981) and Acceptable Losses (1982).

Short stories

Shaw was highly regarded as a short story author, contributing to Collier's, Esquire, The New Yorker, Playboy, The Saturday Evening Post, and other magazines; and 63 of his best stories were collected in Short Stories: Five Decades (Delacorte, 1978), reprinted in 2000 as a 784-page University of Chicago Press paperback. Among his noted short stories are: "Sailor Off The Bremen", "The Eighty-Yard Run", and "Tip On A Dead Jockey". Three of his stories ("The Girls in Their Summer Dresses", "The Monument", "The Man Who Married a French Wife") were dramatized for the PBS series Great Performances . Telecast on June 1, 1981. This production was released on DVD in 2002 by Kultur Video.

In 1950, Shaw wrote a book on Israel with photos by Robert Capa named Report on Israel.

Awards

During his lifetime Shaw won a number of awards, including two O. Henry Awards, a National Institute of Arts and Letters grant, and three Playboy Awards.

Works

Further reading

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References

  1. "Transport Group to Present Revival of Shaw's 'Bury the Dead' Starting 10/31". Broadwayworld.com. Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  2. "Golden Era Scribe David Shaw Dies". Emmys. August 20, 2007. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  3. Miller, Gabriel William Wyler: The Life and Films of Hollywood's Most Celebrated Director University Press of Kentucky, 19 Jul. 2013
  4. Harris, Mark Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War Canongate Books, 20 Feb. 2014
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-10-22. Retrieved 2013-12-11.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. "Pinewood Lake website retrieved on 2010-09-10". Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2010-09-12.
  7. Images of America, Trumbull Historical Society, 1997, p. 123
  8. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/irwin-shaw-8/evening-in-byzantium/
  9. RICH MAN, POOR MAN: U.S. Miniseries, Museum of Broadcast Communications.
  10. Total Television: A Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present, Alex McNeil, Penguin Books, 1984.
  11. ""Top of the Hill" at IMDB".