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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 17 April 1897Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Date of Death 7 December 1975Hamden, Connecticut, USA
Birth NameThornton Niven Wilder

Mini Bio (1)

Thornton Niven Wilder was the second of five children in the family of a newspaper editor and a U.S. diplomat, Amos Parker Wilder, and Isabella Niven Wilder. He spent part of his childhood with his father, who was a Consul General in Hong Kong and China between 1906 and 1914. Wilder finished high school in California, received his undergraduate degree at Yale, and went to study archeology at the American Academy in Rome. He earned his M.A. in French from Princeton in 1926.

Wilder published his first play "The Trumpet Shall Sound" (1920) in Yale Literary Magasine. His first novel, "The Cabala" (1926), reflects his experiences in Europe, alluding to American expatriates around Gertrude Stein. His second novel "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" brought him his first Pulitzer Prize in 1928. He also won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for his play "Our Town" (1938), and again for "The Skin in Our Teeth" (1943).

During WWII he served in the Army Air Force, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. At that time Wilder wrote the screenplay for 'Shadow of a Doubt', a film by Alfred Hitchcock. His farcical play "The Matchmaker" (1954) was adapted in 1964 into a Broadway musical comedy Hello, Dolly! It was made into a film in 1969, starring Barbra Streisand as Dolly Levi. Wilder received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, and won the 1967 National Book Award for his novel "The Eighth Day". His numerous friends included Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and Montgomery Clift.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Trivia (7)

Pictured on a 32¢ US commemorative postage stamp in the Literary Arts series, issued 17 April 1997.
He is most famous for his play "Our Town", which was first produced on Broadway in 1938. It has been made into a theatrical motion picture only once (so far), in 1940, with four members of the original cast and with the play's ending completely altered, and, many would say, ruined. It has been revived on Broadway several times, the latest revival (with Paul Newman) being produced in the fall of 2002 and broadcast on TV in 2003. Two of the play's revivals have been broadcast, but the play has been performed on television no fewer than five times since 1950. It has also been produced, and continues to be produced, by virtually every high school or college in the United States at one time or another.
Attended the MacDowell Colony in Petersborough, NH, on which he based Grover's Corner in "Our Town".
Biography/bibliography in: "Contemporary Authors". New Revision Series, Vol. 132, pp. 410-415. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2005.
His works often contain derivations (some would say plagiarizations) from the novels of James Joyce.
One of Hitchcock's favorite screenwriters.
Introduced writer-director Garson Kanin to his future wife, actress-writer Ruth Gordon in 1940.

Personal Quotes (3)

Marriage is a bribe to make a housekeeper think she's a householder.
Marriage is the price men pay for sex; sex is the price women pay for marriage.
The best part of married life is the fights. The rest is merely so-so.

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