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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 27 August 1871Terre Haute, Indiana, USA
Date of Death 28 December 1945Hollywood, California, USA
Birth NameHerman Theodore Dreiser

Mini Bio (1)

Theodore Dreiser was one of the great American writers, and a transitional figure between Victorian America and the "modern" age that was inaugurated after the cessation of hostilities after WWI and the publication of Sinclair Lewis' "Main Street" in 1920. A naturalist with a committed social conscience (Dreiser was a socialist in a time when socialists were an established third party and had many mayoral posts and seats in state legislatures before the post-WWI "Red Scare" wiped out socialism in the U.S.), Theodore Dreiser is a seminal figure in the evolution of American letters to a more mature literature.

Born on August 27, 1871 in Terre Haute, Indiana, he was the twelfth of thirteen children Born to John Paul & Sarah Dreiser, ten of whom survived infancy. Theordore's Dreiser's father, John, was a German immigrant and a strict Baptist. His mother Sarah came from a Mennonite community who later converted to Roman Catholicism. His older brother Paul Dresser became a famous songwriter.

Theodore Dreiser attended Indiana University from 1889 to 1890, but flunked out and became a journalist in Chicago and St. Louis. He married the former Sara White in 1898, but the marriage failed and they separated in 1909. Dreiser never divorced his wife.

His first novel "Sister Carrie" was published in 1900. It is considered a classic and a seminal piece of American literature. The publisher did not promote the novel, likely due to its controversial subject matter (adultery, extramarital sex), and the book sold poorly. He did not score a best-seller for a quarter-of-century, until "An American Tragedy" in 1925. (The novel was made into George Stevens 1951 masterpiece A Place in the Sun (1951).

Theodore Dreiser died on December 28, 1945, not long after he had joined the Communist Party, a move that Ernest Hemingway said was that of an old man trying to save his soul.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (2)

Helen Patges Richardson (1944 - 28 December 1945) (his death)
Sara Osborne White (1898 - 1942) (her death)

Trivia (5)

Interred at Forest Lawn (Glendale), Glendale, California, USA, in the Whispering Pines section, at the top of the hill.
Famously slapped Sinclair Lewis several times at a party in 1931 after Lewis refused to recant his accusation that Dreiser's book "Dreiser Looks at Russia" contained sentences copied almost verbatim from "The New Russia", which was written by Lewis' wife, Dorothy Thompson.
Brother of songwriter Paul Dresser.
He sued Paramount Pictures over Josef von Sternberg's adaptation of his novel "An American Tragedy" (An American Tragedy (1931)), forcing the studio to put back deleted scenes to make it conform better to the book. After seeing a preview of Paramount's Jennie Gerhardt (1933), based upon his eponymous 1911 novel, he was so pleased that he sent a telegram to Paramount boss 'B.P. Schulberg': "Jennie moving improvisation upon my theme; excellently cast, beautifully interpreted.".
Theodore Dreiser married his second cousin Helen Richardson on June 13, 1944.

Personal Quotes (1)

(About Hollywood in 1931) Just a small town with notions.

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