Sidney Kingsley

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Sidney Kingsley
Sidney Kirschner

(1906-10-22)22 October 1906
Died20 March 1995(1995-03-20) (aged 88)
Years active19331977
Spouse Madge Evans (19391981) (her death)
Awards 1934 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

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 Men-in-White-Flyer.jpg
Handbill for the original Broadway production of Men in White
Handbill for Darkness at Noon, 1953 Darkness at Noon Handbill - NARA - 5729935-cropped.jpg
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 play was fairly successful, eventually spawning the film Dead End Kids. In 2022, Dead End was adapted as a musical and released as a concept album (aka audiobook musical). "Dead End the Musical" was written by Neil Fishman (Music), Harvey Edelman (Lyrics), and Peter C. Palame (Book). Kingsley's two successful plays were followed by his 1936 anti-war play Ten Million Ghosts and his 1939 The World We Make, which were flops and had short runs.

Despite reaching the rank of lieutenant in the United States Army during World War II, 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]


Editions of Works


YearTitleWriterCrewProduction CompanyCredit
1934 Men in White YesNo Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from the play by
1937 Dead End YesNo Samuel Goldwyn Productions based upon the play by
1948 Homecoming YesNo Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer story
1951 Detective Story YesNo Paramount Pictures based on the play by
1955 Producers' Showcase YesNo NBC 1 episode: “Darkness at Noon” - play
1957World in WhiteYesNo CBS CBS Pilot
1957^Hungarian Revolution filmYesNo CBS researched and possibly written script but never produced
1960 DuPont Show of the Month YesNo CBS 1 episode: Men in White - novel
1963 ITV Play of the Week YesNo ITV (England)1 episode: Darkness at Noon - play
1963Detective Story - Polizeirevier 21YesNo SDR (West Germany)play
1963SonnenfinsternisYesNo HR (West Germany)adaptation of Darkness at Noon
1963The PatriotsYesNo NBC NBC TV Movie - play
1964 Primera fila YesNo TVE (Spain)1 episode: El cero y el infinito - play
1968Polizeirevier 21YesNo ZDF (West Germany)Second West German adaptation - play “Detective Story”
1972 Au théâtre ce soir YesNo ORTF (France)1 episode: Histoire d'un détective - play
1973 Serpico NoYes Paramount Pictures Provided his Manhattan apartment as a filming location (uncredited)
1974 Alta Comedia YesNo Canal 9 (Argentina)1 episode: Uniforme blanco
1976 Great Performances YesNo PBS 1 episode: The Patriots - play/teleplay
1971, 1978 Estudio 1 YesNo TVE (Spain)2 episodes: Historia de detectives (1978), Historias de detectives (1971)
1978Teatro estudioYesNo TVE (Spain)1 episode: Historia de detectives

^film never produced


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  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. 1 2 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