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Samuel Nathaniel Behrman (June 9, 1893, Worcester, Massachusetts – September 9, 1973, New York City) was an American playwright and screenwriter, who also worked for the New York Times.

In the 1930s and 1940s, he was considered one of Broadway's leading authors of "high comedy", and wrote for such stars as Ina Claire, Katharine Cornell, Jane Cowl, and the acting team of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. Among his greatest Broadway successes were The Second Man (1928), Biography (1932), End of Summer (1936), and No Time for Comedy (1939). His stage adaptation of Enid Bagnold's novel, Serena Blandish, became a success for actress Ruth Gordon. He also adapted plays by Jean Giraudoux and Marcel Achard, and a short story by W. Somerset Maugham. With composer Harold Rome he adapted Marcel Pagnol's Fanny trilogy into a musical comedy for the stage.

In Hollywood, he was most noted for his work on screenplays for Greta Garbo, including Queen Christina, Conquest, and her final film, Two-Faced Woman. With Sonya Levien, Behrman co-wrote the screen play for the 1930 film version of Ferenc Molnár's Liliom, starring Charles Farrell and Rose Hobart. His experiences in Hollywood found dramatic form in Let me Hear the Melody (1951).

Berhman's comedies repeatedly celebrate tolerance, yet show how tolerant people in their generosity are often vulnerable when confronted by fanatics or ruthless opportunists. In End of Summer, a liberal household is threatened by a devious psychoanalyist who is able to play upon their weaknesses in his desire for wealth and power. Behrman's protagonists often feel inadequate to deal with the evils and injustices in the world. The hero of No Time for Comedy, a successful author of stylish comedies for his actress-wife, feels the need to write a serious play in response to the Spanish Civil War. When he fails at this attempt, he resolves to go to Spain himself and fight. The play asks the question: Is there a place for comedy in a violent and unjust world?

Behrman's writing for The New Yorker not only included profiles of such notable figures as composer George Gershwin Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár, Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann and entertainer Eddie Cantor, but much longer pieces that were collected into books on Max Beerbohm and Joseph Duveen. His autobiographical essays, which also appeared in The New Yorker,later appeared in two volumes, The Worcester Account (1955) and People in a Diary (1972).


  • Robert F. Gross. S. N. Behrman: A Research and Production Sourcebook. Greenwood Press, 1992.
  • Kenneth T. Reed. S. N. Behrman. Twayne Publishers, 1975.

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