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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 27 February 1902Salinas, California, USA
Date of Death 20 December 1968New York City, New York, USA  (heart disease)
Birth NameJohn Ernst Steinbeck
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

John Steinbeck was the third of four children and the only son born to John Ernst and Olive Hamilton Steinbeck. His father was County Treasurer and his mother, a former schoolteacher. John graduated from Salinas High School in 1919 and attended classes at Stanford University, leaving in 1925 without a degree. He was variously employed as a sales clerk, farm laborer, ranch hand and factory worker. In 1925, he traveled by freight from Los Angeles to New York, where he was a construction worker. From 1926-1928, he was a caretaker in Lake Tahoe, CA. His first novel, "Cup of Gold," was published in 1929. During the 1930s, he produced most of his famous novels ("To a God Unknown," "Tortilla Flat," "In Dubious Battle," "Of Mice and Men," and his Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Grapes of Wrath"). In 1941, he moved with the singer who would become his second wife to New York City. They had two sons, Thom (b. 1944) and John IV (b. 1946). In 1948, his close friend Ed Ricketts died, he went through a divorce, he took a a tour of Russia, and he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His wrote the screenplay for Viva Zapata! (1952), and 17 of his works have been made into movies. He received three Academy Award nominations. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. US President Lyndon Johnson awarded him the United States Medal of Freedom in 1964, and he was commemorated on a U.S. postage stamp on what would have been his 75th birthday. His ashes lie in Garden of Memories Cemetery in Salinas.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Spouse (3)

Elaine Anderson (28 December 1950 - 20 December 1968) (his death)
Gwyndolyn Conger (29 March 1943 - 1948) (divorced) (2 children)
Carol Henning (14 January 1930 - 18 March 1943) (divorced)

Trivia (10)

Born at 3:00pm-PST.
His play "Of Mice and Men," performed at the Savoy Theatre, was nominated for a 2004 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Revival of 2003.
His novella "Sweet Thursday," a sequel to his classic "Cannery Row," is based on the original book he wrote for the 1955 Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein musical, "Pipe Dream." Although it won five 1956 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and ran for 246 performances, "Pipe Dreams" is considered one of their least successful shows, just as the book itself is considered one of Steinbeck's weaker works. "Sweet Thursday" also serves as the basis for David S. Ward's film Cannery Row (1982), as the story, plot, and characters rely more on the former rather than the latter.
According to his biographer Jay Parini and the New York Times, Steinbeck in the mid-1990s was the most popular deceased American writer, with 750,00 copies of his works selling annually. His popularity has not diminished over the years but has rather increased, particularly after Oprah Winfrey made his "East of Eden" the first selection of her revived book club in 2003. The book immediately became the #2 bestseller on amazon.com, and Steinbeck's publisher, Penguin Group USA, printed 600,000 new copies. Normally, the book sells fewer than 50,000 copies annually. It is a remarkable phenomenon considering that the book originally was a #1 best seller when it was published in 1952!.
Steinbeck, one of the seminal American authors of the 20th century, was humiliated when the N.Y. Times excoriated the Swedish Academy for naming him the winner of the Nobel Prize Literature for 1962, saying there were more deserving writers to honor. Humble and blunt, when asked whether he deserved it at his press conference after receiving the news of the prize, he answered, "No." The criticism that he was undeserving of literature's greatest prize was soon picked up by the American literati, further compounding the wound. While Steinbeck had been enormously popular in his home country, penning four #1 best sellers, his critical reputation had sagged since the mid-1940s. However, he had remained a highly respected author outside the U.S., particularly among those who enjoyed his harsh critique of American materialism, although he was bewildered by foreign fans who still believed that the U.S. was the Depression-era America he had described in the 1930s. He was particularly beloved by Scandinavians for his WWII novella "The Moon is Down," a 1942 propaganda piece about the Norwegian resistance. In fact, so high was his esteem, he was singled out for extra-special treatment during the Stockholm ceremonies. Though that pleased him, he remained bitter about the criticism his fellow Americans had put him through until the end of his life.
Two sons with 2nd wife: Thom and John IV. Only Thom survives as of this writing (June 2005). He has recently published a book of short-stories, and is said to be working on a novel.
Steinbeck, a noted liberal whom the government suspected was a member of the Communist Party, was outraged by what he regarded as director Alfred Hitchcock's racism as manifested in his condescension towards the George 'Joe' Spencer character played by Canada Lee.
Was denied a military commission in World War II due to his left-wing politics. His future collaborator, Elia Kazan, similarly was turned down during the war due to his own radical past. Both served the war effort in a civilian capacity, Steinbeck as a journalist and propagandist.
One of the few Nobel laureates for literature to be nominated for an Academy Award for writing. Steinbeck was nominated three times for Lifeboat (1944), A Medal for Benny (1945) (with Jack Wagner) and Viva Zapata! (1952). Other Oscar-nominated Nobel laureates include George Bernard Shaw, who won an Oscar for Pygmalion (1938), as well as Jean-Paul Sartre and Harold Pinter.
The stage version for "Of Mice and Men" was awarded the 1977 Joseph Jefferson Citation for Play Production at the Wisdom Bridge Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.

Personal Quotes (11)

A man on a horse is spiritually, as well as physically, bigger than a man on foot.
Man is the only kind of varmint sets his own trap, baits it, and then steps in it.
It has always been my private conviction that any man who puts his intelligence up against a fish and loses had it coming.
I have never smuggled anything in my life. Why then do I feel an uneasy sense of guilt on approaching a customs barrier?
The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid stable business.
[advice to his young son] There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you - of kindness and consideration and respect - not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak, but the second can release in you strength and courage and goodness, and even wisdom you didn't know you had.
It is a common experience that a problem, difficult at night, is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.
It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure on the world.
Give a critic an inch, he'll write a play.
We spend our time searching for security and hate it when we get it.
I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quick vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.

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