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William Saroyan Poster

Biography

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

Overview (2)

Born in Fresno, California, USA
Died in Fresno, California, USA  (cancer)

Mini Bio (1)

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 genocide.

With his unmistakably American literary works, deeply rooted in his Armenian heritage, William Saroyan soon established himself as one of the preeminent short story writers, playwrights and novelists in the United States.

In 1939 and 1940 William Saroyan's "My Heart's in the Highlands" and "The Time of Your Life" were staged for theater and "Love's Old Sweet Song" opened on Broadway, winning the New York Critics Circle Award.

In 1943 his MGM screenplay "The Human Comedy" was novelized and published and received great reviews, and he won the Academy Award for Best Writing Original Story for "The Human Comedy".

He wrote the lyrics of Ross Bagdasarian's famous # 1 hit song "Come On-a My House", performed by Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, and Rosemary Clooney, which was featured in Madonna's "Swept Away" (2002) and Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru (1952).

William Saroyan is one of the most important American writers of the 20th century -- along with such masters as John Updike, John Steinbeck, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller, who admired him. Saroyan is perhaps the only writer to receive both the Pulitzer Prize and the Academy Award, and his work continues to appear on the theater stage and the silver screen worldwide.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: PARAJANOV.com

Spouse (2)

Carol Grace (25 March 1951 - 6 March 1952) ( divorced)
Carol Grace (20 February 1943 - 17 November 1949) ( divorced) ( 2 children)

Trivia (14)

Father of actress Lucy Saroyan.
Ex-wife Carol (nee Marcus) later married Walter Matthau.
Pictured on a 25¢ US commemorative postage stamp in the Literary Arts series, issued 22 May 1991. The Soviet Union also issued 1-ruble stamp with the same design on that date.
Children by Carol Grace: son Aram (b. 25 September 1943), daughter Lucy (b. 17 January 1946)
Divorced Carol Grace when he learned she was illegitimate and Jewish, but soon tried to get her to take him back. She divorced him within months of their second marriage.
Won 1940 Pulitzer Prize for his play "The Time Of Your Life"; he declined the award.
The Academy Award statuette that he won for "The Human Comedy" (1943) briefly adorrned a pawn shop window in San Francisco. The Oscar has been in possession of Saroyan's sister, and after she died in 1990, someone hocked it at the Mission Jewelry & Loan Co. for $250. Pawn broker Darryl Kaplan donated it to the William Saroyan Society in Fresno, California, despite having numerous offers to buy it, including one for $20,000 from a literary figure. The Oscar eventually was transferred to the Fresno Metropolitan Museum. Fresno was Saroyan's hometown and the site where "The Human Comedy" takes place.
The Best Writing, Original Story Academy Award he won for "The Human Comedy" (1943) was made out of plaster. Though he didn't attend the ceremony held at Graumann's Chinese Theatre on March 2, 1944, saying he "didn't want to bother carrying it around," he did eventually get the Oscar. The plaster award was exchanged for a metal one in 1946 after World War Two restrictions on metals were lifted. His sister Cosette, knowing he didn't want it, asked for it, and he gave it to her. Although thought missing after his death in 1981, it was in fact in her possession until she died in 1990.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 701-703. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
His play, "My Heart's in the Highlands", was written in twenty-four hours.
Once brought a greasy bag of fried prawns into a high class bar in San Francisco. When he noticed that people were staring at him, he offered to share them with everybody.
Had never been to the East Coast before 1934.
Cousin of Ross Bagdasarian, who sang the 1958 novelty song "Witch Doctor" and created Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Half of his ashes are buried in California, and the other half in Armenia.

Personal Quotes (2)

So that's a Broadway show. For God's sake, I could write a better one than that in twenty-four hours! [to Random House publisher Bennett Cerf, after being taken to his first Broadway play, "Ceiling Zero"]
I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.

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