50 Oscar winning screenwriters

by ketutar | created - 26 Jun 2011 | updated - 26 Jun 2011 | Public

Oscar winning screenwriters; before 1940 "Best Story", after that "Writing: Original story"

1. Ben Hecht

Writer | Notorious

Ben Hecht, one of Hollywood's and Broadway's greatest writers, won an Oscar for best original story for Underworld (1927) at the first Academy Awards in 1929 and had a hand in the writing of many classic films. He was nominated five more times for the best writing Oscar, winning (along with writing...

Won two times, first 1927 with Underworld, then 1937 with The Scoundrel. Also wrote the screenplays for Spellbound, Notorious, His Girl Friday and dozens of other movies

2. John Monk Saunders

Writer | The Dawn Patrol

John Monk Saunders was born on November 22, 1895 in Hinckley, Minnesota, USA. He was a writer and director, known for The Dawn Patrol (1930), Wings (1927) and Devil Dogs of the Air (1935). He was married to Fay Wray and Avis Bissell (Hughes). He died on March 11, 1940 in Ft. Myers, Florida, USA.

A flier who loved writing. He won the Best Story 1931 for Dawn Patrol. He wrote the screenplay for Wings which was the first film ever to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. He killed himself 1940.

3. Frances Marion

Writer | The Big House

The most renowned female screenwriter of the 20th century, and one of the most respected scripters of any gender, Frances Marion was born in San Francisco. She modeled and acted and had some success as a commercial artist. She entered into journalism and served in Europe as a combat correspondent ...

She became the first female to win an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1930 for the film The Big House, she received the Academy Award for Best Story for The Champ in 1932. She wrote hundreds of screenplays.

4. Robert Lord

Writer | One Way Passage

Harvard graduate Robert Lord studied English literature and playwriting in George Pierce Baker's renowned Workshop 47. He subsequently put this training into practice as a story writer for the New Yorker. Before long, one of his contributions, The Lucky Horseshoe (1925), attracted the attention of ...

Won Best story 1933 for One Way Passage.

5. Arthur Caesar

Writer | Manhattan Melodrama

Romanian-born playwright and screenwriter, in America from childhood. He was noted for his acidulous wit. A former journalist, Caesar was educated at Yale University and started writing acerbic comedy plays in the 1920's. He worked at Fox and Warners in the 1930's, but his output declined sharply ...

Best Story 1934; Manhattan Melodrama, which is most famous today for being the film that John Dillinger had just been to see before getting gunned down outside the cinema. Most of his screenplays were for B-movies.

6. Charles MacArthur

Writer | The Scoundrel

"Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers out there are starving!" When Patrick Dennis's fictional Auntie Mame uttered this pithy observation, she could have been speaking of Charles MacArthur. Charlie never shied away from the feast, and he certainly never went hungry. Arriving in November 1895 in...

1935, cowriter of The Scoundrel, with Ben Hecht. He wrote several movie scripts together with Ben Hecht, for example His Girl Friday, and the 1939 Wuthering Heights.

7. Pierre Collings

Writer | The Story of Louis Pasteur

Along with Sheridan Gibney, became the first person to win two Academy Awards for the same film, The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936). They won for Best Original Story and Best Screenplay.

Won the Best Story 1936 for The Story of Louis Pasteur with Sheridan Gibney

8. Sheridan Gibney

Writer | The Story of Louis Pasteur

Sheridan Gibney was born on June 11, 1903 in New York City, New York, USA. He was a writer and producer, known for The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936), The Six Million Dollar Man (1974) and The Locket (1946). He died on April 12, 1988 in Missoula, Montana, USA.

Won the Best Story 1936 for The Story of Louis Pasteur with Pierre Collings

9. Robert Carson

Writer | A Star Is Born

During World War II, Carson was the commanding officer of the Air Force Motion Picture Unit at Fort Roach; he was discharged as a lieutenant colonel.

Won 1937 for The Star Is Born, with William A. Wellman

10. William A. Wellman

Director | A Star Is Born

William Wellman, the Oscar-winning screenwriter-director of the original A Star Is Born (1937), was called "Wild Bill" during his World War I service as an aviator, a nickname that persisted in Hollywood due to his larger-than-life personality and lifestyle.

A leap-year baby born in 1896 on the 29th...

While he was primarily a director, he wrote the story for A Star Is Born and received a story credit for both remakes in 1954 and 1976

11. Eleanore Griffin

Writer | Boys Town

Eleanore Griffin, the Oscar-winning screenwriter who won her Academy Award along with co-writer Dore Schary for Boys Town (1938), was born on April 29, 1904, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Griffin began writing screenplays at Universal in 1937, being credited for the comedies When Love Is Young (1937) (...

won her Academy Award along with co-writer Dore Schary for Boys Town (1938). One of the most neglected screenwriters suffering much for the fact that she was a woman, the "vertical integration" and the "auteur theory".

12. Lewis R. Foster

Writer | Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Lewis R. Foster was born on August 5, 1898 in Brookfield, Missouri, USA. He was a director and writer, known for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Captain China (1950) and Crosswinds (1951). He was married to Dorothy Wilson and Helen Mae. He died on June 10, 1974 in Tehachapi, California, USA.

Directed and wrote over one hundred films and television series between 1926 and 1960, but won only one Oscar for the "best story" for Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.

13. Benjamin Glazer

Writer | 7th Heaven

Attended University of Pennsylvania Law School; admitted to Bar in 1906 in Philadelphia.

He is best known for his Oscar-winning writing for Seventh Heaven (1927) and Arise, My Love (1941). Additional screenwriting credits include The Merry Widow, Flesh and the Devil, Mata Hari, A Farewell to Arms, We're Not Dressing, and Tortilla Flat.

14. Harry Segall

Writer | Here Comes Mr. Jordan

American playwright and screenwriter, in Hollywood from 1933. Worked variously at MGM, RKO, Paramount and Universal, coming to prominence chiefly through his 'heavenly fantasies': "Heaven Can Wait" (aka "Here Comes Mr. Jordan") and "Angel on my Shoulder".

In 1941, Segall won an Academy Award for best original story for the film Here Comes Mr. Jordan, based on his play Heaven Can Wait. A 1978 film version of Heaven Can Wait starred Warren Beatty which was subsequently remade several times under various titles, most recently in 2001 starring Chris Rock.

15. Emeric Pressburger

Writer | A Matter of Life and Death

Educated at the Universities of Prague and Stuttgart, Emeric Pressburger worked as a journalist in Hungary and Germany and an author and scriptwriter in Berlin and Paris. He was a Hungarian Jew, chased around Europe (he worked on films for UFA in Berlin and Paris) before World War II, finally ...

Won the Best Story Oscar 1942 for 49th Parallel (The Invaders) Known as "Michael Powell's Screenwriter", as he wrote the script for 40 of his films, but wrote a lot of other screenplays as well.

16. William Saroyan

Writer | The Human Comedy

The Oscar winner and Pulitzer Prize recipient William Saroyan, who gained world fame with his classic book "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze" (1934), was born in California to Armenak and Takoohi Saroyan, Armenian refugees from the Turkish Ottoman Empire which perpetrated the Armenian ...

Won 1943 for the Human Comedy, the only screenplay he ever wrote.

17. Leo McCarey

Director | An Affair to Remember

Leo McCarey was born on October 3, 1896 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Thomas Leo McCarey. He was a director and writer, known for An Affair to Remember (1957), Going My Way (1944) and Love Affair (1939). He was married to Stella Martin. He died on July 5, 1969 in Santa Monica, California.

Best known as the director, he wrote many of the screenplays for his movies. He won the Oscar for Going My Way 1945.

Best Story 1945; The House on 92nd St.

19. Clemence Dane

Writer | Perfect Strangers

British novelist and playwright Clemence Dane was born Winifred Ashton in Kent, England, in 1888. A gifted student, she was educated in a variety of private schools and, at age 16, was hired to teach French in Geneva, Switzerland. A year later she returned to England and studied art for three years...

This British screenwriter was born Winifred Ashton. She won the Oscar for Vacation from Marriage in 1946.

20. Valentine Davies

Writer | Miracle on 34th Street

Valentine Davies was born on August 25, 1905 in New York City, New York, USA. He was a writer and producer, known for Miracle on 34th Street (1947), The Glenn Miller Story (1954) and It Happens Every Spring (1949). He died on July 23, 1961 in Malibu, California, USA.

Wrote the original story "Miracle on 34th Street", which was then adapted for screen by George Seaton

21. Richard Schweizer

Writer | The Search

Started off as a stage-builder and theater painter at the main theater in Zurich, Switzerland.

A Swiss playwriter, won Oscars 1944 (Best Writing: Original Screenplay - Marie-Louise) and 1948 (Best Story; The Search) together with another Swiss, David Wechsler

22. Douglas Morrow

Writer | The Stratton Story

Douglas Morrow was born on September 13, 1913 in Oswego, New York, USA. He was a writer and actor, known for The Stratton Story (1949), Men of Annapolis (1957) and Maurie (1973). He died on September 9, 1994 in Kingston, New York.

Wrote mostly for television, but won the "Best Story" Oscar 1949 for Stratton Story.

23. Edward Anhalt

Writer | Jeremiah Johnson

A graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism, Edward Anhalt started his career in early television before turning to writing and producing films, often in collaboration with his wife Edna Anhalt. A prolific screenwriter, Anhalt and his wife won an Academy Award for Panic in the Streets (1950). He...

Won Best Story 1951 together with his wife Edna, for Panic in the Streets. Edna didn't write much anything after she divorced him 1957. Won Best Adapted Story 1965 for Becket.

24. Paul Dehn

Writer | Murder on the Orient Express

Paul Dehn's show-business career began in 1936 as a movie reviewer for several London newspapers. He later wrote plays, operettas and musicals for the stage. Dehn's first screenplay, for Seven Days to Noon (1950), garnered him an Oscar. He later wrote everything from James Bond films to entries in ...

British screenwriter, who won the Oscar for Best Story together with his life partner at that time, composer James Bernard, 1952.

25. Frank Cavett

Writer | Going My Way

Frank Cavett was born on December 27, 1905 in Jackson, Ohio, USA. He was a writer and assistant director, known for Going My Way (1944), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) and Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (1947). He was married to Mary Oakes and Mary Susan Beard. He died on March 25, 1973 in Santa...

Won two Oscars, the first together with Frank Butler, 1945, Going My Way, and the second together with Fredric M. Frank and Theodore St. John, for the Greatest Show on Earth, 1953.

26. Frank Butler

Writer | Going My Way

Frank Butler was born on December 28, 1890 in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England as Frank R. Butler. He was a writer and actor, known for Going My Way (1944), Wake Island (1942) and Road to Morocco (1942). He was married to Ethel Virginia Chapman. He died on June 10, 1967 in Oceanside, Long Island, New ...

A writer and an actor, who won Oscar for "Best Screenplay" for Going My Way, 1944, together with Frank Cavett.

27. Dalton Trumbo

Writer | Roman Holiday

Dalton Trumbo, the Oscar-winning screenwriter, arguably the most talented, most famous of the blacklisted film professionals known to history as the Hollywood 10, was born in Montrose, Colorado to Orus Trumbo and his wife, the former Maud Tillery.

Dalton Trumbo was raised at 1124 Gunnison Ave. in ...

One of the Hollywood Ten, who was blacklisted because he refused to testify for MacCarthy. Won Oscars during his blacklisting 1954 as Ian McLellan Hunter, for Roman Holiday and 1957 as Robert Rich, for The Brave One. He also wrote the script for Spartacus, Exodus and Papillon, to mention a couple.

28. Philip Yordan

Writer | Detective Story

Philip Yordan was born on April 1, 1914 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He was a writer and producer, known for Detective Story (1951), Broken Lance (1954) and Dillinger (1945). He was married to Faith Clift and Marilyn Nash. He died on March 24, 2003 in La Jolla, California, USA.

Won the Oscar 1954 for Broken Lance.

29. Daniel Fuchs

Writer | Love Me or Leave Me

American novelist, essayist and short story writer, a former teacher. Often concerned with Jewish themes, based on his childhood experiences. Went to Hollywood to work on several screenplays for films noir and melodramas, notably the fictionalised Ruth Etting biopic Love Me or Leave Me (1955).

Won the Oscar "Best Story" 1955 for Love Me or Leave Me. The Screenplay was written together with Isobel Lennart, but it didn't win.

30. Preston Sturges

Writer | The Great McGinty

Preston Sturges' own life is as unlikely as some of the plots of his best work. He was born into a wealthy family. As a boy he helped out on stage productions for his mother's friend, Isadora Duncan (the scarf that strangled her was made by his mother's company, Maison Desti). He served in the U.S....

Won the "original screenplay" 1940 for the Great McGinty. He has a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

31. Herman J. Mankiewicz

Writer | Citizen Kane

Herman J. Mankiewicz, now known primarily as the man who co-wrote Citizen Kane (1941) with Hollywood's greatest wunderkind, Orson Welles, was one of the highest-paid screenwriters in Hollywood and the head of Paramount's screen-writing department in the late 1920s and early '30s. He reached the ...

Wrote the original story that was to become Citizen Kane. He too has a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

32. Orson Welles

Actor | Citizen Kane

His father was a well-to-do inventor, his mother a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in many arts (magic, piano, painting) as a child. When his mother died (he was nine) he traveled the world with his father. When his father died (he was fifteen) he became the ward of Chicago's Dr....

Won Oscar together with Herman Mankiewicz for Citizen Kane. Another director who wrote a lot of his own material.

33. Michael Kanin

Writer | Woman of the Year

The older brother of writer/producer/director Garson Kanin, Michael Kanin was a fine talent in his own right. After serving a creative apprenticeship writing and acting in Catskill resort shows with his brother, Kanin worked as a commercial artist and musician. In 1939 he was signed to a ...

1942, best original screenplay, Woman of the Year, together with Ring Lardner Jr. Later he married Kay Mitchell, who is a screenwriter of her own right.

34. Ring Lardner Jr.

Writer | MASH

The Oscar-winning screenwriter, Ring Lardner, Jr., will always be known for one of two things: that he was the son of one of the greatest humorists American literature has produced, and he was one of the Hollywood 10, the ten film-makers who refused to cooperate with the House Un-American ...

Another blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter and a member of the Hollywood Ten. Won Oscar 1942 for Woman of the Year, and 1970 for M*A*S*H, best adapted script.

35. Norman Krasna

Writer | Princess O'Rourke

Humorist, playwright and screenwriter Norman Krasna went to great lengths planning for a career in law: he attended New York University, Columbia University and St. John's University law school, then abruptly changed his plans and started work as a copy boy at a New York newspaper. He had a brief ...

He garnered four Academy Award screenwriting nominations, winning once for 1943's Princess O'Rourke, a film he also directed.

36. Lamar Trotti

Writer | With a Song in My Heart

Author and screenwriter, often preoccupied with American history as viewed from a Southern perspective. Born in Atlanta, Trotti studied writing at Columbia University and was also the first person to graduate from the University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism. In 1923, he became the ...

Won the Oscar for Original screenplay 1944 for Wilson

37. Muriel Box

Writer | The Seventh Veil

Born at Lime Grove, New Malden, Surrey.

Won Oscar for best original screenplay 1946 for Seventh Veil with her husband Sydney. Muriel was a screenwriter and director, a feminist and she made movies of controversial subjects, which got her movies often banned.

38. Sidney Sheldon

Writer | I Dream of Jeannie

Sheldon was born in Chicago on February 17, 1917. He began writing as a youngster and at the age of ten he made his first sale of a poem for $10. During the Depression, he worked at a variety of jobs and while attending Northwestern University he contributed short plays to drama groups.

At seventeen...

Won Oscar for Original Screenplay 1947 for The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, but is more known for his television scripts (I dream of Jeannie, Hart to Hart) and later best selling novels.

39. Robert Pirosh

Writer | Battleground

Robert Pirosh enjoyed a lengthy Hollywood career, which began when he was signed by MGM, along with fellow newcomer George Seaton , as a contributing writer in 1934. His most notable success was garnering the Academy Award for his screenplay of Battleground (1949), a film based on the Second World ...

He earned an Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay in 1949 for his script for the World War II drama Battleground. He wrote the script for A Day At The Races for Marx Brothers.

40. Charles Brackett

Writer | Sunset Blvd.

Charles Brackett, born in Saratoga Springs, New York, of Scottish ancestry, followed in his attorney-father's footsteps and graduated with a law degree from Harvard University in 1920. He practised law for several years, before commencing work as drama critic for The New Yorker (1925-29), in ...

Won Oscars 1951, best story and screenplay together with Billy Wilder and D.M.Marshman Jr. for Sunset Bulevard and 1954 together with Walter Reisch and Richard L. Breen for Titanic. These three wrote also the screenplays to among others Ninotchka and Niagara. 1946; Best adapted screenplay; The Lost Weekend with Billy Wilder. 1958 he was awarded a honorary Oscar for "outstanding service to the Academy".

41. Billy Wilder

Writer | The Apartment

Originally planning to become a lawyer, Billy Wilder abandoned that career in favor of working as a reporter for a Viennese newspaper, using this experience to move to Berlin, where he worked for the city's largest tabloid. He broke into films as a screenwriter in 1929 and wrote scripts for many ...

Won 3 Oscars for writing: 1946; Best adapted screenplay; The Lost Weekend with Charles Brackett 1951; Best original screenplay; Sunset Blvd, with Charles Brackett and D.M.Marshman Jr. 1961; Best original screenplay; The Apartment with I.A.L.Diamond and Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award 1988.

42. Alan Jay Lerner

Writer | An American in Paris

Playwright/lyricist Alan Jay Lerner was born into a wealthy New York City retailing family. His professional association with Frederick Loewe started in 1942 when they teamed up to write "Life of the Party". Their first Broadway success was the 1947 musical fantasy "Brigadoon." Lerner adapted work ...

A composer who wrote two Oscar winning screenplays; 1951 An American In Paris (Best Original), and 1958; Gigi (Best Adapted).

43. T.E.B. Clarke

Writer | The Lavender Hill Mob

T.E.B. 'Tibby' Clarke graduated with a law degree from Cambridge University, but decided that writing was more his forte. He started on that career path first as writer for a magazine in Australia, than back in London freelancing as a journalist. He also had jobs on Fleet Street, worked in ...

won 1952 Original Screenplay Oscar for Lavender Hill Mob.

44. Richard L. Breen

Writer | Titanic

Under contract at Paramount (1948-51) and 20th Century Fox (1951-57). Did his best work in collaboration with Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett.

Won Oscar for Original Screenplay together with Charles Brackett and Walter Reisch 1954 for Titanic. These three wrote also the screenplays to among others Ninotchka and Niagara.

45. Walter Reisch

Writer | Titanic

After completing studies in literature at the University of Vienna, Walter Reisch began his screen career as an extra and title writer in 1918. He eventually made the acquaintance of Stephan Lorant, a refuge from the Horty regime in Hungary, who, within a single year, had made a name for himself in...

Won Oscar for Original Screenplay together with Charles Brackett and Richard L. Breen 1954 for Titanic. These three wrote also the screenplays to among others Ninotchka and Niagara.

46. Budd Schulberg

Writer | On the Waterfront

Budd Schulberg was born on March 27, 1914 in New York City, New York, USA as Seymour Wilson Schulberg. He was a writer and producer, known for On the Waterfront (1954), Everglades (1961) and A Face in the Crowd (1957). He was married to Betsy Ann Langman, Geraldine Brooks, Agnes Victoria Anderson ...

Best Writing, Story and Screenplay for: On the Waterfront (1954).

47. Sonya Levien

Writer | Interrupted Melody

Sonya, a graduate with a law degree from New York University, briefly practiced law before becoming a magazine editor and fiction writer. After several of her stories were adapted to the screen, she became a screenwriter. Levien wrote several screenplays for Will Rogers films and for Fox studios ...

Won Oscar for best original screenplay 1955 for Interrupted Melody, together with William Ludvig

48. William Ludwig

Writer | Interrupted Melody

Active as a founder of the Screen Writers Guild, now the Writers Guild of America. Secretary-treasurer of that union for 18 years. In the 1960s, he promoted the development of the Guild's pension fund. Appropriately, he died at the Motion Picture and Television Fund hospital, which the Guild's fund...

Won Oscar for best original screenplay 1955 for Interrupted Melody, together with Sonya Levien.

49. Albert Lamorisse

Director | Le ballon rouge

A former photographer, he turned to directing short subjects in the late 40s, soon acquiring an international reputation for the poetic quality of his short and medium-length films involving the fantasy world of children. Both his White Mane (1953) and The Red Balloon (1956) received a grand prize ...

Best Writing, Best Screenplay - Original for: Le ballon rouge (1956).

50. George Wells

Writer | Designing Woman

The son of a vaudevillian Billy K. Wells, Wells graduated from New York University and began as a writer for radio ('The Jack Pearl Show','Lux Radio Theater'). In 1943, he joined MGM under contract as a screenwriter, rapidly acquiring a reputation for lending a deft touch and inventiveness to light...

Won Oscar for best original screenplay 1957 for Designing Woman

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