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Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (14)  | Personal Quotes (1)  | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Born in Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA  (cancer)
Birth NameRinggold Wilmer Lardner Jr.
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

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 Activities Committee (HUAC) investigating subversion in Hollywood and were fined and jailed for the defiance.

The son of newspaper sports columnist and best-selling writer Ring Lardner, the future double Oscar winner was born on August 19, 1915 in Chicago, Illinois. Ring, Sr. (who was born Ringgold Wilmer Lardner) became famous for his "Saturday Evening Post" series, "You Know Me Al", fictional letters being sent from one baseball player to another. Mawell Perkins, editor-extraordinaire at the publishing house, Charles Scribners & Son, collected Lardner's columns and stories into publishable form (Ernest Hemingway, another Scribers writer, was a great fan) and they were a great success. Such was Lardner's renown, that 30 years after his death (while his son and namesake was still officially blacklisted), he was the first sportswriter inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, for meritorious contributions to baseball writing, in 1963.

On his part, Ring, Jr. became a reporter for the "New York Daily Mirror" after dropping out of Princeton. He moved West and became a publicist for producer David O. Selznick, where he met his future wife, who also worked for the producer. He also worked as a script doctor for Selznik, then went on to become a screenwriter, often working in collaboration.

During the Spanish Civil War, Lardner moved steadily left in his political thinking, and helped raise funds for the Republican cause. He joined the Communist Party and became involved in organizing anti-fascist demonstrations. Although his leftist politics were known to the studios, in the 1930s and early '40s, Hollywood did not shy away from hiring talented writers no matter what their political proclivities, and employed many known (as well as secret) communists.

In 1943, he and Michael Kanin won the Oscar in 1942 for their Woman of the Year (1942) screenplay. He wrote such great pictures as Laura (1944) for Otto Preminger and, in 1947, 20th Century Fox gave him a contract at $2,000 a week, making him one of the highest paid scribes in La-La Land. Ironically, at the time of this seeming triumph, his career and life were about to unravel.

When it was Lardner turn to be hauled before HUAC and asked, "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States?", he came up with a witty riposte.

"I could answer the question exactly the way you want, but if I did, I would hate myself in the morning". After the appeals process against HUAC's citations for contempt of Congress played out, Lardner was sentenced to a year in prison and fined. More importantly, he was blacklisted and could not find work in Hollywood except under pseudonyms for work "fronted" by others. After the blacklist was officially broken when Preminger hired Dalton Trumbo to adapt Leon Uris's novel "Exodus" for his 1960 production (Kirk Douglas then immediately hired Trumbo to write a screenplay for his upcoming Spartacus (1960)), the blacklisted writers slowly returned to work under their own names. Lardner was hired by producer Martin Ransohoff, who respected writers more than did the average Hollywood producer, to write the screenplay for The Cincinnati Kid (1965) under his own name. His comeback was complete when, in 1971, he won his second Oscar for adapting Robert Hooker's comic novel, "M*A*S*H" (1970) (ironically, due to director Robert Altman's improvisational style, little of Lardner's dialogue remained in the movie). His career, though, had been effectively aborted by the blacklist, and he only was credited with two more screenplays during his lifetime.

Ring Lardner, Jr. was the last of the Hollywood 10 to die, passing away on Halloween, October 31, 2000, in New York City from cancer. He was 85 years old and had long outlived most of the witch-hunters who had tormented him. He was survived by his wife, Frances Chaney, and five children.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (2)

Frances Chaney (28 September 1946 - 31 October 2000) ( his death) ( 1 child)
Sylvia Schulman (19 February 1937 - 27 August 1945) ( divorced) ( 2 children)

Trivia (14)

Brother of John Lardner, David Lardner and James Lardner.
Blacklisted in 1950's; one of the Hollywood Ten.
Son of Ring Lardner
Frances Chaney was blacklisted from TV. She was scheduled to play in "Marty" and was replaced.
Close friend and collaborator of Ian McLellan Hunter
Met his first wife when they both worked for David O. Selznick.
He had 2 children with his first wife, Sylvia: son, Peter (born in 1939), and daughter, Barbara (born in 1940). He also had a son, James, with his second wife, Frances.
Won an Academy Award for MASH (1970), when, ironically, very little of his original script "made it" into the film.
Spent time in a federal prison for refusing to answer when the House Un-American Activities Committee asked if he was a member of the Communist Party. He had ceased using a pseudonym by the time he wrote the screenplay for MASH (1970) in 1970.
Uncle of Kate Lardner. Is also her stepfather, after marrying her mother, Frances Chaney, his sister-in-law, after the death of Kate's father, David Lardner.
Katharine Hepburn refused to tell MGM boss Louis B. Mayer who wrote Woman of the Year (1942) despite the fact that Mayer liked the script and was eager to purchase it. Only after Mayer signed an agreement purchasing the script which included a fee of $100,000 for the co-authors did Hepburn reveal it was written by two relative unknowns, Ring Lardner Jr. and Michael Kanin. Hepburn was afraid if Mayer knew who actually wrote the screenplay he might low ball the authors because both had little clout as of then in Hollywood.
Cousin of Rex Lardner.
His ashes were sprinkled into the Atlantic Ocean.
Started his career as a reporter at the "New York Daily Mirror" with Ian McLellan Hunter.

Personal Quotes (1)

Communism, like Christianity, is a beautiful theory that has yet to be tested, because it has never been put into practice.

Salary (1)

Woman of the Year (1942) $100,000 (shared with co-wrtier Michael Kanin)

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

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