Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Robert Sherwood won four Pulitzers

Robert Sherwood
It is the birthday of playwright Robert Sherwood (1896), who won four Pulitzer Prizes, the first one for Idiot's Delight (1936), an anti-war piece about a group of international travelers trapped in an Alpine hotel as war breaks out. It starred Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. Later Sherwood adapted it as a movie starring Clark Gable and Norma Shearer. Much of Sherwood's early work had anti-war themes, including his first play, The Road to Rome (1927), a comedy about Hannibal's disastrous invasion of Rome. Sherwood wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940). By 1940, Sherwood became decidedly patriotic. He supported the war against Germany, and he wrote a play, There Shall Be No Night (1940), about the Russian invasion of Finland, which won a Pulitzer in 1941. He became a speechwriter for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He wrote about that experience in his book Roosevelt and Hopkins (1949), which also won a Pulitzer. His play Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1939) also won the award. Sherwood was an original member of the Algonquin Round Table and was close friends with Robert Benchley and Dorothy Parker as well as Edna Ferber. After World War II, Sherwood wrote the screenplay for The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), about three servicemen returning to civilian life. He received an Oscar for best screenplay.

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