Clifford Odets

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

Odets, Clifford

(ōdĕts`), 1906–63, American dramatist, b. Philadelphia. After graduating from high school he became an actor and in 1931 joined the Group TheatreGroup Theatre,
organization formed in New York City in 1931 by Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford, and Lee Strasberg. Its founders, who had worked earlier with the Provincetown Players, wished to revive and redefine American theater by establishing a permanent company to present
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. 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 ?
In one of his notebooks, Odets mused, "The American and dehumanizing myth of the steadily expanding economy...
Odets, far from being forgotten after his meteoric rise to fame in the late 1930s, in addition to co-authoring the outstanding film "Sweet Smell of Success" (1957), went on to write popular non-polemical plays, such as his 1950 Broadway hit "The Country Girl,' which was made into a successful 1954 film with Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby, and "The Flowering Peach" (1954), which the 1955 Pulitzer drama jury reportedly favored but the Pulitzer board awarded the prize to Tennessee Williams's "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
In his letters to Louise he addresses these issues and other family matters, but he also offers information on such works of his as 14 Ways to Describe Rain, Hollywood Songbook, Woodbury-Songbook, his music for Odets's Night Music, and his score for the film Forgotten Village (directed by Herb Kline, 1941).
So this rare revival of Odets' 1950 Broadway hit would be a collector's item for theatre buffs.
Part of the 1930s Group Theatre ensemble, Garfield played Ralph Berger in the original production of Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing (1935) and was the actor initially intended for the role of Joe Boneparte in the theatre company's first mounting of Odets' Golden Boy (1937).
On one occasion I asked them to read the following lines from Odets' (1935/1979: 7-8) play
Odets shamelessly ups the ante: snitches, anti-Semites, Red-baiters, an industrialist trying to lure a worker into a career making poison gas.
Succeeding chapters in Beyond the Golden Door trace how these dynamics develop throughout the twentieth century in works by Elmer Rice, Gertrude Berg, Clifford Odets, Arthur Miller, Paddy Chayefsky, Neil Simon, Alfred Uhry, Wendy Wasserstein, and Tony Kushner, among others.
Among the featured playrights are Adrienne Kennedy, Clifford Odets, Suzan-Lori Parks, Robert Patrick, Sung J.
Their influences are a who's who of independent theatre notables, like left-leaning playwrights George Bernard Shaw and Bertolt Brecht, along with Clifford Odets and the Group Theater of 1930s New York, and Dario Fo's Italian theatrical collectives.
Long under the spell of radical writers such as Dalton Trumbo and Clifford Odets, Hollywood was "a town that welcomed Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista junta but never took up the cause of a single Soviet or Eastern European dissident."
The Forverts played a pivotal role in the Yiddishization of American English by perfecting a journalistic style approximating one-to-one conversational Yiddish which, during the Depression years, writers like Mike Gold, Meyer Levin, Leo Rosten, and Clifford Odets translated into American English.