|Born||June 18, 1896|
Rochester, New York, U.S.
|Died||December 3, 1949 53) (aged|
New York City, U.S.
Philip Jerome Quinn Barry (June 18, 1896 – December 3, 1949) was an American dramatist best known for his plays Holiday (1928) and The Philadelphia Story (1939), which were both made into films starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.
Philip Barry was born on June 18, 1896, in Rochester, New York to James Corbett Barry and Mary Agnes Quinn Barry. James died from appendicitis a year after Philip's birth, and the family's marble-and-tile business faltered from then on. His oldest brother, Edmund, who was 16 at the time, left school to take over the business and became a father figure for Philip.
Barry's play, The Youngest, written when he was 28, is an autobiographical account of his family history following his father's death. In 1910, at the age of 14, Barry discovered that a New York State interpretation of his father's will entitled him to a share of his father's estate that eventually left him the entire business.Family conflicts ensued; he later claimed he never intended to keep the money, and he eventually signed over the estate to his mother and brothers.
Because of his poor eyesight, Barry was rejected for military service during World War I; but, he eventually found a wartime job deciphering cables at the U.S. Embassy in London and left Yale to assume his duties. At the end of the war, he returned to college, where he studied writing with Henry Seidel Canby, and earned his B.A. His mother and two elder brothers strongly demanded that he return to the family in Rochester after college and take a place in the family business.He was, however, determined to strike out on his own and, knowing that he wanted to be a writer, enrolled in George Pierce Baker's renowned playwriting course "47 Workshop" at Harvard University. (Other alumni of Baker's course include Eugene O'Neill, Sidney Howard, S.N. Behrman, and Thomas Wolfe, as well as numerous critics, directors, and designers. )
Barry's life as a writer started at the age of nine when he had a story called Tab the Cat published by a Rochester newspaper. Four precocious years later, he wrote a three-act drama called No Thoroughfare, which went unproduced. When he was at Yale, he devoted his time to writing poetry and short fiction while working for the Yale Literary Magazine .
In 1919, when he returned from London, the Yale Dramatic Club staged his one-act play Autonomy. By the time he had enrolled in Baker's class at the end of the year, he was spending all his time writing plays. His first full-length play for the class was A Punch for Judy, written in the spring 1921. The Harvard workshop took "A Punch for Judy" on tour to Worcester, Massachusetts; Utica, New York; Buffalo, New York; Cleveland; and Columbus, Ohio, but it failed to win the backing of a New York producer. Playwright Robert E. Sherwood met Barry at this time and thought him an "exasperating young twirp." Sherwood would eventually become a good friend and colleague who came to appreciate what he termed Barry's "Irish, impish sense of comedy."Many years later, Sherwood would finish writing Second Threshold, left incomplete at the time of Barry's death.
While still living in Cambridge, Barry became engaged to Ellen Semple (aunt of Lorenzo Semple Jr.) but was determined to establish himself as a playwright before settling down. Ellen lived in New York while he remained in Cambridge, and there he wrote The Jilts, which reflected his own concern that marital obligations might thwart an artistic career and force him into the business world.The play won the Herndon Prize in 1922 as the best drama written in Baker's workshop. (On July 15, 1922, his doubts calmed, Barry and Semple were married, and their first son, Philip Semple Barry, was born the following year.)
Renamed You and I, the play opened on Broadway on February 19, 1923, and was a critical and commercial success.Barry's Broadway career was launched. Theater critic Brooks Atkinson wrote "If [his story of a businessman who gives up art for the sake of money and family] did not make Barry exactly a revolutionary, it made him a dissenter from the materialistic mythology of America. The story spoke to the tenor of the times, a decade that both glamorized and questioned the energetic pursuit of financial success. You and I ran for 170 performances, was followed by a successful tour and many productions in college and regional theaters, and was later included in Burns Mantle's Best Plays anthology series.
One person who was not happy with Barry's success was a classmate in Baker's seminar, Thomas Wolfe, who struggled to be a playwright before finding fame as a novelist. Wolfe was both envious of Barry's facility and quick rise and unforgiving about his barbed wit; Barry had written a play for their class about North Carolina bootleggers, parodying Wolfe, his background, and his stumbling efforts to write a play.
Barry's second work for the stage, The Youngest, was produced the following year to considerably less acclaim. C. Gild wrote that the play is an "innovative 'psychodrama' that enacts therapeutic Freudian techniques in a theatrical context," a method Barry employed in later plays such as Hotel Universe (1930) and Here Come the Clowns (1938). It featured a well-received performance by Laurette Taylor.The story dealt with a rich, provincial family who cannot accept the unconventional ways of one of its members. (This would eventually become a common Barry theme, handled more deftly in later plays.) Barry's third Broadway play, In a Garden (1925), served as a prototype for his classic comic works in which a gracious tone seems at odds with the often disturbing implications. In a Garden contains echoes of Luigi Pirandello and in its ending alludes to the famous final scene that concludes Ibsen's A Doll's House when Nora Helmer leaves her unsympathetic husband Torvald. The play also makes use of phallic symbolism and refers to Sigmund Freud's theories of the unconscious. Theater historians W. David Sievers and David
Even though he knew it "would probably ruin the man who produced it" because of its calculated departures from Broadway formulae, White Wings was produced in 1926. It was a complete failure.Seen as a precursor to Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth , the play follows a group of proud street cleaners at the turn of the twentieth century; its theme is the increasing mechanization of life. Archie Inch, the protagonist, is caught between the "White Wings" (the men who clean up after horse-drawn carriages) and his sweetheart Mary Todd, who loves her father and the automobiles he designs which are a threat to the older way of life. The symbolism was not subtle, with the horses representing tradition and the motorcars representing progress. In comparison to other plays of that era about the modern work force, such as Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape and Dynamo , Elmer Rice's The Adding Machine , and the dramas of Ernst Toller and Georg Kaiser, Barry's was taken less seriously and weakened by its comedic resolution. It closed after 27 performances.
In 1927, a year after the birth of his second son, Jonathan Peter, Barry took his family to France. He lived the good life on the Riviera for a year in a circle that included Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gerald and Sara Murphy, Cole Porter, and Archibald MacLeish, and began work on two new plays.One of these plays, John, was not a success, lasting only several days. The plot dealt with events in the life of John the Baptist as he awaited the arrival of the Messiah. The writing was cited as being both grandiose and mundane, and the casting (with Yiddish actor Jacob Ben-Ami as John and British actress Constance Collier as Herodias) was strongly criticized. The second play, Paris Bound , a comedy about infidelity, opened a few weeks later and ran in New York for 234 performances. It became Barry's first major hit and, as it was picked up by theaters around the country, provided him with royalties for many years. Barry then strove to write a crowd-pleaser, Cock Robin (1928), with Elmer Rice, whom he had met on his European trip en route to Cannes. That play ran for only 100 performances.
Holiday (1928), a well-crafted comedy which ran for 230 performances, was far more popular with critics and audiences and is considered to be one of Barry's best depictions of an affluent American family and its confrontation with less convention-bound values.The New Yorker writer Brendan Gill called it "a kindly comedy, whose precepts are Barry's own." It was filmed twice, first in 1930, when it garnered an Academy Award nomination for actress Ann Harding, and then, notably, in a 1938 version by George Cukor starring Katharine Hepburn as the elder daughter of a stiff-necked wealthy businessman and Cary Grant as the younger daughter's quirky, charismatic suitor who has no plans, once he makes enough money to live happily, to spend his entire life on Wall Street making more. The play was revived on Broadway in 1973 and 1995 and often was performed in regional theaters through the late 20th century.
Barry's was not a smooth career: hit followed flop followed hit. Hotel Universe (1930) lasted for only eighty-one performances and added to the financial woes of the Theatre Guild, the famed organization of which Barry was an original member. Set in a villa in southern France based on the home of the famous expatriates Gerald and Sara Murphy, Hotel Universe tells the story of six unhappy characters in search of meaning, if not an author, though in effect they find one in Stephen Field, the aging invalid whose lonely daughter, Ann, they have all come to visit. When Field arrives in the later half of the play, the suicidal disillusionment, dark pasts, and unresolved issues of the other characters emerge. Each visitor begins to act out roles based on past traumas. In the view of theater historian Eleanor Flexner, the play's psychologizing and philosophizing are "little more than a jaunt to a Never-Never land." Other students of Barry's work consider it his most unjustly underrated play.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow was produced in 1931 and compared favorably to Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude . The story concerns Eve Redman, the young wife of a businessman whose grandfather founded the college in the Indiana town where the Redmans live. Dr. Nicholas Hay, a young psychologist and visitor from out of town, lectures at the college, advocating education for women, an opportunity Eve seizes. He teaches her the "science of the emotions," and her outlook evolves. They fall in love and eventually produce the child that Eve has always longed for, the one that her husband cannot give her. Her husband believes the child is his. For its time, the story was regarded as daring and sophisticated, and the screen rights were sold for a staggering $85,000.
Though remembered today for his vintage "comedies of manners" playfully skewering the rich and fashionable, Barry (a practicing Roman Catholic whose sister was a nun) wrote many serious dramas, often on religious themes.Brooks Atkinson, noting this dichotomy between the successful, high-living Broadway playwright of light fare and the serious-minded writer, wrote of Barry that, at heart, "[he] liked the role of prophet; he was attracted to moralistic themes about mankind." His 1927 play John is a New Testament story, and Barry described his 1938 allegory Here Come the Clowns as a study of "the battle with evil" in which his hero, Clancy, "at last finds God in the will of man." The Joyous Season (1934) is an admiring portrait of a strong-willed nun who has devoted her life to her faith. (The Joyous Season starred Lillian Gish in its original production and Ethel Barrymore in a 1946 Chicago revival that did not do well enough at the box office to bring it to New York, despite the many parish priests in Chicago who urged their parishioners to see it.)
Barry's best-known, most frequently revived work is The Philadelphia Story (1939), which was made into a popular 1940 film starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart. Hepburn, a close friend of Barry, had appeared in the play on Broadway, but she had doubts about its commercial possibilities performances on Broadway.and, proven wrong by its box-office success, bought the movie rights with the help of her ex-boyfriend Howard Hughes. She successfully restarted her previously flagging Hollywood career with the film version. The movie was remade as High Society , starring Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Louis Armstrong. The popular play ran for 417
In 1949 at the age of 53, Philip Barry died of a heart attack in his family apartment on Park Avenue. "It was his misfortune," Atkinson wrote, "to be at the peak of his powers during a skeptical age that resisted moral instruction."He also noted a fundamental conservatism and didacticism in Barry: "Although Barry's literary style was modern, his mind was closer to Langdon Mitchell than to S.N. Behrman." He was appreciated by the many actresses (e.g., Laurette Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, Ethel Barrymore) who felt that he wrote great parts for women, even if the vehicles themselves were not always as strong as the performances they inspired.
Katharine Houghton Hepburn was an American actress of film, stage, and television. Hepburn's career as a Hollywood leading lady spanned more than 60 years. Known for her headstrong independence and spirited personality, she cultivated a screen persona that matched this public image, and regularly played strong-willed, sophisticated women. Her work came in a range of genres, from screwball comedy to literary drama, and she received four Academy Awards for Best Actress—a record for any performer. In 1999, Hepburn was named by the American Film Institute the greatest female star of classic Hollywood cinema.
The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 American romantic comedy film directed by George Cukor, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, and Ruth Hussey. Based on the 1939 Broadway play of the same name by Philip Barry, the film is about a socialite whose wedding plans are complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband and a tabloid magazine journalist. The socialite character of the play—performed by Hepburn in the film—was inspired by Helen Hope Montgomery Scott (1904–1995), a Philadelphia socialite known for her hijinks, who married a friend of playwright Barry.
Bringing Up Baby is a 1938 American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks, and starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. It was released by RKO Radio Pictures. The film tells the story of a paleontologist in a number of predicaments involving a scatterbrained heiress and a leopard named Baby. The screenplay was adapted by Dudley Nichols and Hagar Wilde from a short story by Wilde which originally appeared in Collier's Weekly magazine on April 10, 1937.
Ethel Merman was an American actress, artist, and singer. Known primarily for her distinctive, powerful voice and leading roles in musical theatre, she has been called "the undisputed First Lady of the musical comedy stage". Over her distinguished career in theater she became known for her iconic performances in shows such as Anything Goes, Annie Get Your Gun, Gypsy, and Hello, Dolly!. She is also known for her film roles in Anything Goes (1936), Call Me Madam (1953), There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). Among many accolades, she received the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in Call Me Madam, a Grammy Award for Gypsy and Drama Desk Award for Hello, Dolly!.
Holiday is a 1930 American pre-Code romantic comedy film which tells the story of a young man who is torn between his free-thinking lifestyle and the tradition of his wealthy fiancée's family. It stars Ann Harding, Mary Astor, Edward Everett Horton, Robert Ames and Hedda Hopper. It was produced and released by Pathé Exchange.
Judy Holliday was an American actress, comedian and singer.
Sidney Coe Howard was an American playwright, dramatist and screenwriter. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1925 and a posthumous Academy Award in 1940 for the screenplay for Gone with the Wind.
The Boys from Syracuse is a musical with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Lorenz Hart, based on William Shakespeare's play The Comedy of Errors, as adapted by librettist George Abbott. The score includes swing and other contemporary rhythms of the 1930s. The show was the first musical based on a Shakespeare play. The Comedy of Errors was itself loosely based on a Roman play, The Menaechmi, or the Twin Brothers, by Plautus.
Elmer Rice was an American playwright. He is best known for his plays The Adding Machine (1923) and his Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of New York tenement life, Street Scene (1929).
Garson Kanin was an American writer and director of plays and films.
The Chalk Garden is a play by Enid Bagnold that premiered in the US in 1955 and was produced in Britain the following year. It tells the story of the imperious Mrs St Maugham and her granddaughter Laurel, a disturbed child under the care of Miss Madrigal, a governess, whose past life is a mystery that is solved during the action of the play. The work has been revived numerous times internationally, and was adapted for the cinema in 1964.
Clyde Fitch was an American dramatist, the most popular writer for the Broadway stage of his time.
Samuel Nathaniel Behrman was an American playwright, screenwriter, biographer, and longtime writer for The New Yorker. His son is the composer David Behrman.
Austin Campbell Pendleton is an American actor, playwright, theatre director and instructor. He is a Tony Award nominee and the recipient of Drama Desk and Obie Awards.
Holiday is a 1938 American romantic comedy film directed by George Cukor, a remake of the 1930 film of the same name. The film is a romantic comedy that tells of a man who has risen from humble beginnings only to be torn between his free-thinking lifestyle and the tradition of his wealthy fiancée's family. The movie, adapted by Donald Ogden Stewart and Sidney Buchman from the 1928 play by Philip Barry, stars Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant and features Doris Nolan, Lew Ayres, and Edward Everett Horton. Horton reprised his role as Professor Nick Potter from the 1930 version.
Without Love is a 1945 romantic comedy film directed by Harold S. Bucquet and starring Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, and Lucille Ball. Based on a 1942 play by Philip Barry, the film's screenplay was written by Donald Ogden Stewart.
Katharine Hepburn was a major American actress of the 20th century who appeared in 44 feature films, eight television films and 33 plays for over 66 years. Hepburn began her career in theatre in the late 1920s, and later appeared on the stage in every decade up until the 1980s. Productions Hepburn played in ranged from Shakespeare, to Philip Barry comedies, work by George Bernard Shaw, and a musical. Hepburn made her film debut in A Bill of Divorcement in 1932. Over the next six decades, she appeared in a range of genres, including screwball comedies, period dramas, and adaptations of works by notable playwrights Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neill, and Edward Albee. Her final appearance in a theatrically released film was a supporting role in Love Affair in 1994. Hepburn first appeared in a television film in 1973, and later continued to appear in the medium until she gave the final performance of her career in One Christmas in 1994. Hepburn also presented two documentaries for television, and narrated two short documentaries.
The Philadelphia Story is a 1939 American comic play by Philip Barry. It tells the story of a socialite whose wedding plans are complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband and an attractive journalist. Written as a vehicle for Katharine Hepburn, its success marked a reversal of fortunes for the actress, who was one of the film stars deemed "box office poison" in 1938.
Holiday is a 1928 play by Philip Barry which was twice adapted to film. The original play opened in New York on November 26, 1928, at the Plymouth Theatre and closed in June 1929, after 229 performances. It was directed by Arthur Hopkins, set design by Robert Edmond Jones, and costume design by Margaret Pemberton.
The Bat is a three-act play by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood that was first produced by Lincoln Wagenhals and Collin Kemper in 1920. The story combines elements of mystery and comedy as Cornelia Van Gorder and guests spend a stormy night at her rented summer home, searching for stolen money they believe is hidden in the house, while they are stalked by a masked criminal known as "the Bat". The Bat's identity is revealed at the end of the final act.