Clifford Odets

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Clifford Odets
BirthplacePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Playwright, screenwriter, director

Odets, Clifford

Odets, Clifford (ōdĕtsˈ), 1906–63, American dramatist, b. Philadelphia. After graduating from high school he became an actor and in 1931 joined the Group Theatre. Turning his attention from acting to playwriting, Odets soon came to be regarded as the most gifted of the American naturalistic social-protest dramatists of the 1930s. His first work for the Group, Waiting for Lefty (1935), a vernacular, Marxian drama of the awakening and insurgency of the impoverished working classes, aroused immediate international attention. Awake and Sing (1935), his first full-length play and widely considered his best work, compassionately portrays the struggles and rebellion of a financially destitute Jewish-American family. Other plays include Till the Day I Die (1935), Paradise Lost (1935), Golden Boy (1937), Night Music (1939), and Clash by Night (1942). Odets spent many years in Hollywood writing film scripts, e.g., Sweet Smell of Success (1957). In his later plays he turned from social drama to self-conscious dramas of the individual, such as The Big Knife (1949), The Country Girl (1950), and The Flowering Peach (1954).


See The Time is Ripe: The 1940 Journal of Clifford Odets (1988); biographies by E. Murray (1968), G. C. Weales (1971), G. Miller (1989), and M. Brenman-Gibson (2002); studies by M. J. Mendelsohn (1969), H. Cantor (1978, repr. 2000), G. Miller, ed. (1991), and C. J. Herr (2003).

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Odets, Clifford

(1906–63) playwright, film director, actor; born in Philadelphia. Leaving high school to be a poet, he took up acting, appearing on the radio and in repertory theater. In 1931 he helped found the Group Theatre, which in 1935 produced his Waiting for Lefty and Awake and Sing! These plays immediately established him as a major American social realist and spokesman for the downtrodden, but he himself was soon enjoying the good life in Hollywood where he wrote screenplays and eventually turned to directing films, including None But the Lonely Heart (1949) and Wild in the Country (1961). He also continued to write a series of realistic and increasingly disillusioned dramas such as Golden Boy (1937) and The Big Knife (1949).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Cohan, Eugene O'Neill, Paddy Chayefsky, Edna Ferber, and Clifford Odets were among the array of major 20th-century dramatists born of European immigrants, as were Arthur Miller and David Mamet.
Freeman most recently trod the boards in the triumphant revival of Clifford Odets' 'The Country Girl,' directed by Mike Nichols.
The latest work to get this treatment (courtesy the New Yiddish Rep) is the Clifford Odets classic Awake and Sing!, one of the best-known plays about the American-Jewish experience.
In it, he found the following, written by Bauland and Ingram: A character in a Hollywood film of the 1950s casually drops this line:"Any idiot can face a crisis; it's this day-to-day living that wears you out." The screenplay was by Clifford Odets, America's chief inheritor of the dramatic tradition of Anton Chekhov, and in that one line, he epitomised the lesson of his master.
Spivey describes his approach to the play as a "stylized mix of agitprop movement and multimedia woven between the written monologues about Tamir." For Spivey, the appeal of working on the play stemmed from "the angle from which the dialogue is coming—from the community." He notes that "in addition to creating fictional characters, it is our job [as theater artists] to reflect the just and unjust in the real world as they did back in the days of Clifford Odets and LeRoi Jones.
Lahr, an author and drama critic, collects profiles and reviews he wrote for The New Yorker of playwrights, productions, and directors, including Arthur Miller, August Wilson, Tony Kushner, David Mamet, Sarah Ruhl, Clifford Odets, David Rabe, Harold Pinter, Wallace Shawn, Neil LaBute, Sam Shepard, William Shakespeare, Nicholas Hytner, Ingmar Bergman, Susan Stroman, John Barton, and Arcadia, The Pajama Game, The Retreat from Moscow, Private Lives, Company, Sweeney Todd, Me, Myself & I, Oklahoma!, The Light in the Piazza, Orpheus Descending, The Rose Tattoo, and Carousel.
At age 17 he was cast in a local production of Clifford Odets' "Awake and Sing'' as the son in a Jewish family.
Rainer was at one time married to the playwright Clifford Odets.
The musical will follow two other boxing-related works to appear on Broadway recently: Mike Tyson's one-man show about his life in and out of the ring, and a revival of Clifford Odets' "Golden Boy" about a young man torn between his natural talent as a violinist and the fast money of boxing.
In a recent, enthusiastic review of Lincoln Center's outstanding revival of Clifford Odets's 1937 play "Golden Boy," New York magazine's current man on the aisle wrote: "There are, walking around today, whole generations of theatergoers with no firsthand experience of Clifford Odets's plays--not in-performance, anyway.
The play was Waiting for Lefty, by Clifford Odets, and the show was so successful it gave the group the confidence to go from strength to strength ...
Cain and the social realist plays of Clifford Odets, Penner concludes that the 1930s was a decade "dominated by the masculine cult of virility and the overthrow of the so-called effete genteel tradition" (23).