Hoosier Screenwriters

and Novelists whose work has been translated to the screen


Charles Graham Baker, Evansville (1893 -1950)

  • A prolific screenwriter, Baker wrote almost 100 screenplays from 1917 unti 1950. He started as a newspaperman in New York. He wrote a number of screenplays for early film comedian John Bunny and worked for many studios, including Warners, Fox, and Universal. In 1923 he wrote the screen adaptation for Hoosier George Barr McCutcheon's novel, The Man from Brodey's which starred Hoosier J. Warren Kerrigan. Baker produced The Swiss Family Robinson, Little Men, Tom Brown's Schooldays all in 1940.

Jeffrey Bell, Indianapolis

  • A writer/director, Bell wrote and directed a very well received film, Radio Inside (1994)which starred Elizabeth Shue and Dylan Walsh. He also was a writer for the TV series The X-Files. He is currently co-executive producer for Alias.

Anthony Bruce Terre Haute (b. December 1, 1964)

  • A writer and co-producer of independent films, he began writing articles for the Terre Haute Tribune while still a student at North Vigo High School. He began writing for newspapers and magazines and in 1997 wrote his first play, Visions of Sugarplums. It was filmed in 2001 and released on VHS and DVD. His screenplay, Murder at Random has been optioned by Emmy award winning producer Renee Valente. His screenplay, Redefining Normal is filming in 2007.

Gretchen Cryer, Indianapolis (b. 1935)

  • A playwright/actress, Cryer graduated from Spiceland High School and DePauw University. In collaboration with DePauw classmate Nancy Ford, who wrote the music, Cryer wrote the book and lyrics for a number of successful plays based on her experiences growing up in Henry County. Her most personal work is I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road. Other works include, Now Is the Time for All Good Men, The Last Sweet Days of Isaac, and Shelter. Her son, John Cryer, appears on TV's Two and a Half Men. Her daughter, Robin, has appeared with her mother in cabaret shows. Youngest daughter, Shelley, works in theater makeup.

Jim Davis, Marion (b. 1945)

  • Davis grew up on a small farm near Fairmount, Indiana, with his brother Dave, and 25 cats. He was painfully shy until he discovered drama class at Fairmount High School. His drama teacher was Adelaide Nall, who also taught fellow Hoosier James Dean. Davis said he managed to graduate from Ball State University with "the lowest accumulative grade point ratio in the history of the University." Nevertheless he was president of his fraternity and a member of the student senate.

    After graduating from BSU, Davis worked for an advertising agency and then served as an assistant to Tom Ryan, who was the creator of the cartoon series, Tumbleweeds. He left Ryan in 1978 to start his own cartoon series. Garfield became wildly successful. Davis has had 15 books on the New York Times best seller list, received three Emmy awards, and served as writer, producer and executive producer for his television shows and the Garfield feature movies.

Madelyn Pugh Davis, Indianapolis

  • Graduated from Shortridge High School in 1938. Studied journalism at Indiana University. Started in radio at WIRE in Indianapolis and then left for Los Angeles to join her sister who resided there. She got a staff job at CBS and met Bob Carroll and Lucille Ball. Together Pugh and Carroll wrote the pilot episode for the first I Love Lucy TV show. She continued the association with the Lucy series for the next 20 years. She co-wrote the screenplay for Lucille Ball's film, Yours, Mine and Ours. She has one child by her first husband, TV producer Quinn Martin and four stepchildren from her second husband, Dr. Richard Davis, a general surgeon. Her son is a television producer.

Isabel Dawn, Evansville

  • Busy screenwriter from 1932 to 1954. Wrote screenplays for such films as Lady for a Night (1941), Ice Capades (1941), A Man Betrayed (1941), and The French Line (1954).

Hugh Fink, Indianapolis

  • Emmy award-winner for best writing for Saturday Night Live (2002). Started writing for SNL in 1975. Wrote screenplay for Any Given Wednesday (2000) starring Samuel Jackson. Head writer for The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (2005).

Thomas J. Geraghty, Rushville

  • A very busy screenwriter from 1917 to 1937. He was the father of writers Maurice and Gerald Geraghty and actress Carmelita Geraghty...all born in Rushville. He was a newspaperman in Rushville. He moved to New York, and became a writer for The New York Herald. He came to the attention of Douglas Fairbanks and wrote such Fairbanks vehicles as, When the Clouds Roll By (1919), The Mollycoddle (1922). He also wrote and edited the W. C. Fields film, The Old Army Game (1927). His talkies included Fairbanks Mr. Robinson Crusoe (1932) and the Joe E. Brown baseball comedy, Elmer the Great (1933).

    Gerald and Maurice were active screenwriters from the 1930s through the 1950s. Maurice wrote at least eight films in The Falcon series. He also wrote, Calamity Jane and Sam Bass (1949), Dakota Lil (1950), The sword of Monte Cristo (1951). Gerald wrote innumerable western screenplays, many starring Roy Rogers. Carmelita got her start in westerns appearing with Hoosier Ken Maynard and Tom Mix. She later became a very versatile actress and retired to become a professional painter. Her paintings were exhibited in a number of galleries included the Weil Galleries in Paris, France.

Grover Jones, Terre Haute (1893 - 1940)

  • In Grover Jones brief autobiography, he succinctly relates how he got to Hollywood. "I ran away from home in 1913, because I wanted to get into the motion picture business. A Banker gave me both the idea and the money. He said there was no future for a prospective writer in any small Indiana town. I went away, overlooking the fact that George Ade and Booth Tarkington were doing quite well." Jones became a busy screenwriter from 1922 until his death in 1940. He was a close friend of Thomas Geraghty. Jones wrote the screenplay for the sophisticated romantic comedy, Trouble in Paradise (1932) for director Ernst Lubitsch. Many consider it to be Lubitsch's greatest film. Other screenplays by Jones... The Plainsman(1936), Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936), and Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940). Jones wrote original screenplays and adapted existing works for at least 88 films.

Mabelle Heikes Justice

  • b. Logansport, IN 1871
  • d. March 11, 1926
  • Novelist and screenwriter. She wrote several screenplays for Mary Miles Minter and Kathlyn Williams. Hoosier Edna Goodrich starred in her screenplay, Her Husband's Lover in 1918. Durand of the Badlands was filmed twice...once in 1917 with Dustin Farnum and again in 1925 with two Hoosiers, Buck Jones and Carol Lombard. (The "e" had not yet been added to her first name)

Larry Karaszewski South Bend

  • Screenwriter for such films as, Ed Wood, The People vs Larry FLynt, That Darn Cat, Pittsburgh, Man on the Moon.

John W. Krafft, Indianapolis

  • Wrote screenplays for at least 27 films in the 1930s and early 1940s. Before that he wrote titles for silent films starting in 1925.

Chad Law, Farmland (b. 1979) Evan Law, Farmland (b. 1981)

  • The Law brothers grew up in Farmland, Indiana. Their love of film started at an early age when their father began taking them to Stephen King and Conan films.  Together they shot at least 75 movies with their own video camera.  They graduated from  Monroe Central High School in Parker City. Chad is a graduate of Ball State University. Evan graduated from Ivy Tech in Muncie. Their campy horror film, Daylight's End placed very high in Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's Project Greenlight competition. Their film, Hero Wanted was shot in 2007 in Bulgaria and starred Cuba Gooding, Jr., Ray Liotta and Jean Smart. They divide their time now between Los Angeles and Noblesville.

Bartlett McCormack, Hammond (1898-1950)

  • A writer at the beginning of sound film, McCormack wrote at least 23 films from 1928 to 1950. His play, The Racket, was filmed twice (1928 and 1951).

John McGreevy Muncie (b. 1923)

  • John McGreevey is a well-traveled Hoosier. He was born in Muncie and lived in Tipton, Logansport, Bloomington and Evansville. He attended St. Vincent Catholic School in Logansport where he skipped from the third grade to the fifth grade. At the age of seven he wrote his first play, The Easter Rabbit. He graduated from Logansport High School, where he was on the debate team, and wrote, directed, and starred in The Debate Squad Follies of 1938.

    At Indiana University, he majored in English and dabbled in theater and radio. In his senior year, two of his plays were presented by the drama department. After graduation he worked as a radio announcer in Evansville and Phoenix, Arizona. In 1952, after selling several television scripts, he moved to New York City. He wrote for many shows during television's golden age. He began to write for The Waltons and won an Emmy for The Easter Story. His greatest acclaim came with the TV drama Judge Horton and the Scottsboro Boys for which he won another Emmy, a Peabody and several other awards. His son, Michael is an actor/writer.

Dale Messick, South Bend (1906-2005)

  • Dalia Messick was neither a novelist nor a screenwriter, but her work served as the basis for several screenplays. She holds the distinction of being America's first woman syndicated comic strip writer/artist. After many tries, she finally created a winning cartoon character. She based Brenda Starr on her favorite actress, Rita Hayworth. The movie industry took notice of the popular strip and made at least three films based on her creation. In 1945 a thirteen-episode serial based on the character was released. In 1976 a television movie was produced, starring Jill St. John as Brenda. In 1989 Brook Shields had the title role. When Messick died in 2005, her Brenda Starr strip was 64 years old.

Ryan Murphy, Indianapolis

  • Murphy graduated from Warren Central High School and Indiana University. After majoring in journalism at I.U., he began work as an entertainment writer. One of his assignments was an interview with Bette Davis. It turned out to be Ms. Davis' final interview. He began writing manuscripts and screenplays. His first novel was optioned but went unpublished. He finally got his big break when his treatment for Popular was used for a TV series which ran from 1999 to 2001. In 2000, he signed a two-year development deal with Warner Bros. television and Tollin-Robbins Productions. In 2003 he produced the FX series "Nip/Tuck" about plastic surgeons. He also wrote and directed several episodes. In 2006 he directed his first feature film, Running with Scissors which starred Gwyneth Paltrow and Annette Bening. His film Dirty Tricks is due to be released in 2008.

Paul Osborn, Evansville (1901-1988)

  • Much in demand as a screenwriter, Paul Osborn was also a playwright. His play, On Borrowed TIme(1939), was a successful movie starring Lionel Barrymore. While adapting East of Eden for Elia Kazan, he suggested the director take a look at a young actor he had just seen in a play. Kazan went to see the actor, and James Dean was gievn his first major screen role. Osborn also wrote screenplays for such films as, Sayonara (1957)and The World of Susie Wong (1960).

Angelo Pizzo, Bloomington (b. 1948)

  • An Indiana University graduate, Pizzo writes mostly in conjunction with fellow Hoosier director David Anspaugh. Their collaboration produced such films as Hoosiers (1986) and Rudy (1993). In 2004 they teamed up again for The Game of Their Lives, a film about the 1950 U.S. Soccer team, a group of underdogs.

Raymond Schrock, Goshen (1892-1945)

  • An early screenwriter, Shrock wrote for 121 films fro 1915 to 1945. He was one of several writers credited with writing Lon Chaney's Phantom of the Opera (1925). He wrote many of the better B movies, such as Crime Doctor's Gamble (1947) and The Secret of the Whistler (1946).

Robert H. Shanks, Lebanon (b.1932)

  • A 1954 Indiana University Theatre graduate, Shanks won three Emmys and was an executive with all three of the major television networks. He created Good Morning America, 20-20, and The Great American Dream Machine. He has written three books, as well as plays for television and the movies.

Rod Spence Evansville

  • Rod Spence grew up hearing about the legend of a shadowy "Grey Lady" said to haunt an Evansville library. He used that tale as an inspiration for a screenplay that turned into a TV movie. The Good Witch premiered January 19, 2008 on the Hallmark Channel. It was the first screenplay Spence sold that was actually produced. The 1972 North High School graduate has made his living as a freelance mechanical engineer but has been writing all his life. He estimates he has written 30 screenplays. In 2002 Paramount Studios bought an option for a feature film screenplay that was never produced. However that was enough to get him into the Writers Guild of America. Spence thinks his writer's credit should help him get future projects or even sell a few of the "spec" screenplays he has to offer now.

Jeri Suer Taylor Evansville (b. 1938)

  • Taylor lived in several Indiana towns before moving to Wilmington, Ohio, where she went to Wilmington High School, graduating in 1955 as valedictorian of her class.

    Taylor's mother taught mathematics at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis for many years. It was only natural that she should enroll at I.U. Taylor was co-creator and executive producer of Star Trek: the Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager. While a student in 1959, she met and married sports announcer Dick Enberg. They were divorced in 1973. She is the mother of Alexander Enberg, an actor and producer.

Steve Tesich, Yugoslavia (1942 - 1996)

  • Born in Yugoslavia, but raised in Bloomington, Steve Tesich wrote the screenplay for Breaking Away (1979). This led to a successful career in screenwriting. He wrote such films as, Eyewitness (1981), The World According to Garp (1982), Four Friends (1981), and American Flyers (1985).

Daniel Waters, Cleveland, Ohio (b. 1963)

  • With Larry Karaszewski and Chris Webb, Daniel Waters started out writing for a Junior Achievement television show Beyond Our Control on WNDU-TV in South Bend. All three went on to become very successful screenwriters. Waters has written for such films as, Heathers (1989), Hudson Hawk (1991), Batman Returns, (1992), Demolition Man (1993), and Happy Campers (2001).

Chris Webb, South Bend

  • A high school friend of Larry Karazewski and Daniel Waters, Webb was part of a triumvirate who went on to become successful screenwriters. Webb wrote screenplays for Toy Story II (1999) and the television series, Duckman (1994).

William H. Wright, Lawrenceburg (1902 - 1980)

  • An Indiana University graduate, Wright began his career in silent films. He started as a reporter for the Cincinnati Post and then worked for The Indianapolis Star. He became an exploitation man for Paramount Pictures and began to aid in the production of such films as, Anna Karenina, A Tale of Two Cities, (both in 1935). He began freelance writing and was elevated to producer of such films as, The Bride Goes Wild (1948), and Stars in my Crown (1950). He worked with fellow Hoosier Red Skelton in The Clown (1953). In the 1960s Wright became involved with TV and wrote and produced many of The Dick Powell Theatre shows.


George Ade Kentland (1866 - 1944)

  • Known as " The Aesop of Indiana," his "Fables in Slang" became a popular source for early films. More than ninety short films were based on his fables. Sixteen of his plays were produced on Broadway and at least fourteen feature films were based on his writings. He even served as director for five of his films in 1914 and 1915. He was a graduate of Purdue University and a lifelong friend of Hoosier cartoonist John T. McCutcheon. He was a generous supporter of Purdue University, and his gifts resulted in the building of the Ross - Ade football stadium.

James Solomon Barcus Sullivan County (1863 - 1920)

  • An author and publisher, Barcus was a fervent Republican. He was elected to the state senate in 1902 and in 1896 he wrote "The Boomerang," a satirical analysis of William Jennings Bryan. He bought "The Terre Haute Gazette" in 1904 and merged it with "The Tribune." He devised "The Publisher's Clearing House" to allow institutions to buy books on the installment plan. In 1914 his play, The Governor's Boss, opened on Broadway. It became a movie in 1915 with Edward Roseman of Terre Haute as one of the stars.

Gene Brewer, Muncie (b. 1937)

  • A graduate of DePauw University, Brewer studied DNA replication and cell division at several major universities. His 1995 novel K-Pax was transferred to the screen in 2001, starring Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges. The novel's sequel, On a Beam of Light was published in March 2001. The third and last of the trilogy, K-PAX III: The Worlds of Prot was published in 2002.

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Meggin Patricia Cabot, Bloomington (b. 1966)

  • While a student at Bloomington High School, Cabot used to escape to the Monroe County Library, where she would read historical novels. She began to write and after years of rejection notices, she finally broke into the publishing world when St. Martin's Press published her steamy novel Where Roses Grow Wild (1998). Since then she has written twenty five books under several different names, but it was her Princess Diaries series that brought her success. Disney offered Cabot an amount in the mid-six figure range for the film rights. The film, starring Ann Hathaway and Julie Andrews, brought in more than $22 million in its first week in theaters in 2001.

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    The Princess Diaries (The Princess Diaries, Vol. 1)

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Elmer Holmes Davis Aurora (1890 - 1958)

  • The only child of Elam Davis, a bank cashier, and his second wife, Louise, a teacher at Aurora High School and later its principal. Davis entered Franklin College at sixteen and graduated magna cum laude, winning a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University. While traveling in Europe, he met another American student, Florence MacMillan. After a four year courtship, they were married. After returning to America, he moved to New York City where he wrote for magazines and became a reporter for The New York Times. He was one of the founders of Americans for Democratic Action, and was appointed by President Roosevelt to head the Office of War Information. He wrote nineteen books, both fiction and nonfiction. He became internationally known as a radio commentator and was every bit as influential as colleagues H. V. Kaltenborn, Raymond Gram Swing, Gabriel Heatter, and Fulton Lewis, Jr.

    Four of his novels became motion pictures...Times Have Changed (1923), I'll Show You the Town (1925), Friends of Mr. Sweeney(1934), and My American Wife (1926).

Lloyd C. Douglas Columbia City (1877 - 1951)

  • For more than twenty years Douglas' novels appeared regularly on best-seller lists. The son of a country parson, Douglas emulated his father and became a clergyman. He worked his way through Wittenberg College and Seminary in Springfield, Ohio. Following his ordination, he became a Lutheran minister. He married Bessie Porch in 1904 and they had two daughters. After serving several Lutheran pastorates, he became the director of religious work at the University of Illinois. He then switched denominations and served several Congregational Churches. Some of his sermons found their way into print. He decided to incorporate his ideas into fiction in the hope of reaching a larger audience. His first novel, Magnificent Obsession, was published in 1929. It became a best-seller. In 1935 it was filmed starring Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor. It was remade in 1954 starring Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman. Some of his other novels which became films were, The Green Light (1937), White Banners (1938), The Robe (1953), and The Big Fisherman (1959). Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954), was a sequel based on The Robe. He also wrote the story for Disputed Passage (1939) and the TV series, Dr. Hudson's Secret Journal, was based on his work.

Theodore Dreiser, Terre Haute (1871 - 1945)

  • A novelist and journalist, Dreiser had a major impact on American society in the 1920s and 1930s. He was the second youngest of thirteen children. One of his brothers, Paul, changed his name to Dresser and became a very successful composer of popular songs. In the mid-1890s Dreiser moved to New York, and with Dresser's help, got a job as an editor of "Ev'ry Month," a magazine that promoted songs by a company partially owned by Dresser. Dreiser had an interest in motion pictures and visited Hollywood several times trying to sell screenplays. He was rejected. On one of his visits to Hollywood, he met Helen Richardson, who was a bit player and an extra in films. They were married in 1944. In 1926 Paramount Pictures paid Dreiser $80,000 for the rights to film An American Tragedy. However Paramount dropped the project saying it was a "monstrous challenge." When the project was revived Dreiser collected an additional $55,000 for the sound rights. After the filming, Dreiser disliked the finished product and tried to sue Paramount to stop its distribution. The judge ruled in favor of the studio.

    Dreiser's works were translated to the screen seven times from 1931 to 1959. In 1951 "An American Tragedy" was remade as A Place in the Sun. The film won two Oscars, one for the director, George Stevens, and one for best screenplay.

Marilyn Durham, Evansville (b. 1930)

  • Attended Evansville College and married Kilburn Durham in 1950. One night she declared she could write a better book than some of those she had been spending her time reading. She wrote The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing. It was published in 1972 and became a best- seller. In 1973 it became a movie starring Burt Reynolds and Sarah Miles. Durham has written two other novels, "Dutch Uncle" and "Flambard's Confession."

Edward Eggleston, Vevay (1837 - 1902)

  • Eggleston's book The Hoosier Schoolmaster was made into three films in 1914, 1924 and 1935. The Hoosier Schoolboy was filmed in 1937.

Peggy Goodin, Bluffton (b. 1923)

  • Two of Goodin's novels were made into films. Mickey (1948) starred Hoosier Lois Butler, and Take Care of My Little Girl starred Jeanne Crain.

Gordon Gordon, Anderson (1912 - 2004)

  • With his wife, Mildred, Gordon wrote The Undercover Cat, which was filmed in 1965 as That Darned Cat. At least five films have been based on their writings.

Alfred Bertram Guthrie, Jr., Bedford (1901 - 1991)

  • Guthrie's first novel, The Big Sky, was an immediate success. His next book, The Way West, won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In 1953 he wrote the screenplay for Shane. This movie gave him and Oscar nomination for best screenplay. He also wrote the screenplay for The Kentuckian (1955).

Bertita Harding, Nuremburg, Germany (1902 - 1971)

  • Harding came to Indianapolis in 1926 and was married to Jack Ellison de Harding the same year. She lived in Indianapolis from 1926 to 1954. Her novel, The Phantom Crown was filmed in 1939 under the title of Juarez. It starred Paul Muni, Bette Davis, Brian Aherne and Claude Rains. Her novel Magic Fire was filmed in 1956. It starred Yvonne DeCarlo and Rita Gam. Harding wrote the screenplays for both films.

Joseph Hayes, Indianapolis (1918 - 2006)

  • A graduate of Arsenal Technical High School and Indiana University, Hayes married Marrijane Johnston. In 1941 they moved to New York City where he became an assistant editor for Samuel French, publisher of plays. He and Johnston began to write plays. They were successful and decided to go freelance in 1943. The Hayes' wrote stories for many magazines and also for radio and television. While in Florida for the recuperation of their son, Hayes wrote The Desperate Hours. The setting was Kessler Boulevard in Indianapolis. It became a best seller, and Hayes converted it into a play. It was a Broadway hit, winning the 1955 Tony for best drama. In 1955 Hayes wrote the screenplay of the novel and it was released that year with an all-star cast which included, Humphrey Bogart, Frederic March, Martha Scott and Arthur Kennedy. It was directed by William Wellman. Hayes had several other novels converted to the screen. Bon Voyage, Terror after Midnight both were filmed in 1962. The Third Day was filmed in 1965. The Desperate Hours was remade in 1990, starring Mickey Rourke, Anthony Hopkins, and Mimi Rogers.

Annie Fellows Johnston, Evansville (1863-1931)

  • After the death of her husband, the Reverend Albion Fellows, a Methodist minister, Mary Erskine Fellows took her three daughters to her father's farm in McCutchanville, Indiana, near Evansville. They grew up on that farm with ten cousins all living nearby. Annie Fellows remembered her mother saying, "I have always wanted to write a book, but the leisure has come too late. You must do it for me." When Annie was sixteen and her sister Albion was fourteen, they had poems published. Annie was paid seventy five cents for her work. She soon began contributing to Harper's Weekly and other magazines of that day. She attended the University of Iowa one year. She married her mother's cousin, Will Johnston, and when he died after three years of marriage, she supported herself and her three stepchildren with her writing. In 1893 she published her first book, "Big Brother." Her second book, "Joel," won a prize of one thousand dollars.

    While visiting her stepchildren in Pewee Valley, Kentucky, she was inspired by its antebellum atmosphere and the relationship between an old colonel and his ill-tempered granddaughter. Johnston's Little Colonel series sold more than a million copies. In 1935 her heroine came to life in the person of child actress Shirley Temple.

Emily Kimbrough, Muncie (1899-1989)

  • When Emily Kimbrough graduated from Bryn Mawr College, she embarked on a voyage to England and France with her best friend, Cornelia Otis Skinner. Upon their return, they wrote about their adventures in a novel entitled, Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. In 1944 their novel became a film with Diana Lynn as Kimbrough and Gail Russell as Otis Skinner. A 1946, sequel, Our Hearts Were Growing Up, also featured Lynn and Russell. In 1959 a television series, The Girls was based on the two movies. Kimbrough also wrote How Dear to My Heart about her childhood in Muncie.

Frederick Landis, Logansport (dates unknown)

  • Frederick Landis was a lawyer and an ex-congressman. He wrote The Glory of his Country, which was made into a film in 1920 under the title The Copperhead, starring Lionel Barrymore.

Ross Lockridge, Jr. Bloomington (1914-1948)

  • The son of a historian father and a psychologist mother, Ross Lockridge Jr. began writing a novel in 1941 based in part on his mother's side of the family. Raintree County was published in 1948 and became a big budget movie in 1957, starring Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor. Lockridge committed suicide on March 6, 1948, one day before his novel was announced the number-one best seller.

Charles Major, Shelbyville (1856-1913)

  • Charles Major's novel When Knighthood was in Flower was filmed three times...1908, 1922, and 1953 (which was re-titled The Sword and the Rose. His novel Sweet Alyssum, a story of Indiana oil fields, was filmed in 1915 and starred Tyrone Power, Sr. and Kathlyn Williams. Yolanda was filmed in 1924 with Marion Davies.

George Barr McCutcheon, Lafayette (1866- 1928)

  • Twenty Six films have been based on McCutcheon's work. He appears to be second only to Booth Tarkington in the number of films made from his works. Brewster's Millions has been made into a motion picture six times...1914, 1921, 1926, 1935, 1945,and 1985. McCutcheon's novel Graustark was filmed in 1915 and 1925. In 1926 Beverly of Graustark was filmed, starring Marion Davies and Antonio Moreno.

Ruth McKenney, Mishawaka (1911-1972)

  • McKenny's short stories in The New Yorker were the basis for the film, My Sister Eileen (1942). It was filmed again in 1955. Three other stories by McKenney that were made into films were, San Diego I Love You (1944). Margie (1946), and Song of Surrender (1949).

Charles Bruce Millholland, Economy (1903-1991)

  • Millholland wrote a play based on his experiences on the Twentieth Century Limited train. He called it Napoleon of Broadway. Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht liked the script, reworked it, and retitled it, Twentieth Century. It was made into the 1934 classic film with Carole Lombard and John Barrymore, directed by Hoosier Howard Hawks. It has been on Broadway at least three times and has been rewritten as a musical. Indiana University graduate Kevin Kline won a Tony for best featured actor in a musical for his role in On the Twentieth Century in 1978.

Kenyon Nicholson, Crawfordsville (1894-1986)

  • Nicholson was a novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. He was the son of Thomas Brown and Anne Kenyon Nicholson. He graduated from Wabash College in 1917 and served in Europe during World War I. He worked as a press agent in Indianapolis and taught dramatic composition at Columbia University. By 1924 he was actively writing and producing plays. His first work to be filmed was an adaptation of his novel The Barker in 1928. This proved to be his most successful work. It was made into a film three times. It was entitled Hoop-La in 1933 and Diamond Horseshoe in 1945. He wrote eighteen plays and saw his work transferred to the screen twenty times from 1928 to 1952.

Meredith M. Nicholson, Crawfordsville (1866-1947)

  • Nicholson was a prominent author and diplomat near the turn of the twentieth century. His family moved to Indianapolis when he was six years old. In 1901 he became a full-time writer, and between 1903 and 1925 he turned out an average of one book each year. The first film based on a Nicholson novel was The Port of Missing Men in 1914. His novel The House of a Thousand Candles was filmed three times. In 1915 it was a silent film and again in 1919. under the title Haunting Shadows. In 1936 a sound version was made starring Philllps Holmes and Mae Clarke. Landon's Legacy (1916) starred New Albany native J. Warren Kerrigan. Nine feature films were based on Nicholson's novels and writings.

Jeanette Covert Nolan, Evansville (1897-1974)

  • One of Indiana's most prolific authors, Nolan wrote biographies of famous people, mostly for juvenile readers. In 1946 she wrote a novel that focused on Evansville in 1910 entitled Gather Ye Rosebuds. It was filmed under the title Isn't it Romantic? and starred Veronica Lake, Mona Freeman and Patrick Knowles. Unfortunately Nolan's story was barely recognizable. Nolan's son, Tom, is an actor in Hollywood.

Harry Mark Petrakis, St. Louis, MO (b. 1923)

  • Born in St. Louis, his family moved to Chicago when he was 6 months old. He has resided in Chesterton, Indiana for a number of years. One of his earliest contacts with the film industry was when he worked uncredited with Sam Peckinpah on Ride the High Country (1962). He began writing for television in the 1960s for such programs as The Dick Powell Show and The Judge. In 1969 his novel, A Dream of Kings was produced for television. Other works to reach television were, Blue Hotel (1977) and Rosemary (1992). He was one of the writers for the mini-series Picture Windows (1994) which was directed by Peter Bogdanovich. In 1981 he was honored in ceremonies at the State House by Governor Orr and Mayor William Hudnut. He has written at least eight novels.

David Graham Phillips (pen name: John Graham), Madison (1867-1911)

  • Phillips was educated in the public schools in Madison. He attended Asbury College (present day DePauw University), but left without graduating and entered Princeton University. He graduated with a degree in journalism and quickly rose to the top in New York City's competitive newspaper industry.

    Phillips stories were published by The Saturday Evening Post and other important periodicals. He published his first novel, The Great God Success in 1901. It was followed by four other novels. His novels were mostly about society's ills and political corruption. Late in the summer of 1910 he began receiving anonymous letters condemning him for his cynical depictions of American society women. On January 23, 1911, while walking through Gramercy Park he was shot and killed by a man who then shot himself. His novel, Susan Lenox: Her Rise and Fall was published posthumously in 1917 and opened on Broadway as a play in 1920. Hoosier Robert T. Haines was the leading man. In 1931 it was made into a film starring Greta Garbo and Clark Gable.

Ernie Pyle, Dana (1900-1945)

  • Adela Rogers St. John said of Ernie Pyle, "'Unpack your heart,' Ernie Pyle said, and so no other newspaperman or broadcaster of our generation has come anywhere near him in readership and influence. We must not forget. They had to give him the Pulitzer Prize, practically by public demand."

    Pyle attended Indiana University, studying journalism, and then became a newspaper reporter and a war correspondent. He wrote several books about World War II. The film The Story of G.I. Joe (1945) was based on several of his writings. He was killed in action in the Pacific near the end of the war.

Jean Shepherd Chicago (1921-1999)

  • Shepherd's family moved to Hammond, Indiana, when he was an infant. He grew up there, and his most famous work, A Christmas Story (1983), was a theatrical film based on recollections of his childhood in Hammond. A sequel to A Christmas Story was made into a film in 1994. It was entitled, It Runs in the Family. Shepherd wrote other feature-length productions that were shown on television including, The Star-Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski (1983), The Phantom of the Open Hearth (1976), The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters (1982), and Ollie Hoopnoodle's Haven of Bliss (1988).

Fred Mustard Stewart, Anderson (1932 - 2007)

  • Trained at Julliard as a concert pianist, he used this as a background for his first novel, the supernatural "The Mephisto Waltz." It was published in 1969. Four of Stewart's novels have been made into movies. His epic Ellis Island was a 1984 miniseries based on his novel. Six Weeks in 1982 starred Dudley Moore and Mary Tyler Moore. The Norliss Tapes was a 1973 television movie starring Hoosier Claude Akins, Roy Thinnes, and Angie Dickenson. The Mephisto Waltz (1971) starred Alan Alda. Stewart is also a composer. He composed several pieces for Ellis Island

Rex Stout Noblesville (1886-1975)

  • Creator of detective Nero Wolfe, Rex Stout's novels have been made into at least nine movies and/or television shows. The movie that introduced Wolfe was Meet Nero Wolfe in 1936. Edward Arnold played Wolfe, and Lionel Stander played Archie. In 1969 an Italian television series was based on the character. Hoosier Anne Baxter was in a 1977 Nero Wolfe television movie. In 2000 The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery was shot for television starring Maury Chaykin as Wolfe and Timothy Hutton as Archie. It later became a series.

Gene Stratton Porter, Wabash (1863-1924)

  • Geneva Grace Stratton was the youngest of twelve children. Hollywood's first film of her work was a screenplay adaptation of Freckles in 1917, starring Jack Pickford. Freckles was so popular it was made into a movie four times...1928, 1935, 1960. A version in 1942 was called, Freckles Comes Home.

    Several of Stratton-Porter's works were made into films more than once. The Harvester and Keeper of the Bees had two film treatments. Laddie was filmed three times. Other works made into films include, A Girl of the Limberlost. Michael O' Halloran, and The Magic Garden. Stratton-Porter moved to Los Angeles, where she became very involved with the motion picture industry. Her daughter, Jeanette Porter Meehan, became a screenwriter. James Leo Meehan, Jeanette's husband, directed at least seven of Stratton-Porter's films, and Stratton-Porter appeared as an actress in three of her films.

    Stratton-Porter died as a result of an automobile accident in Los Angeles in 1924 at the age of sixty-one.

James Alexander Thom, Gosport (b. 1933)

  • Thom's novel Follow the River was made into a television movie in 1995 starring Ellen Burstyn. His novel Panther in the Sky was made into a television movie in 1995 under the title, Tecumseh: The Last Warrior . It was produced by Francis Ford Coppola.

Kurt Vonnegut, Indianapolis (b. 1922)

  • A graduate of Orchard School and Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, Vonnegut comes from an old Indianapolis family. His father, Kurt Vonnegut, and his mother, Mary Lieber, were both from prominent families. Vonnegut began writing at Shortridge,serving as a reporter, columnist, and editor for the school paper, The Daily Echo.

    Upon graduation from Shortridge, Vonnegut enrolled at Cornell University as a biochemistry major and contributed to The Cornell Sun as managing editor and columnist. In 1943 he enlisted in the United States Army and was sent to Carnegie Institute and the University of Tennessee for training in mechanical engineering. In 1944 his mother committed suicide, and he was captured in the Battle of the Bulge. In 1945 he was in Dresden, Germany, when it was bombed.

    Vonnegut was freed in 1945 and awarded the Purple Heart. The same year he married his high school sweetheart, Jane Marie Cox. He worked steadily the next few years, publishing The Sirens of Titan, Mother Night, Cat's Cradle, and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. In 1967 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to go to Dresden to research Slaughterhouse Five. It was published in 1969 and hit number one on the New York Times best-seller list, catapulting Vonnegut to national prominence.

    Vonnegut began writing for television, and then his novels started to become movies. His play Happy Birthday, Wanda June was made into a movie in 1971. This was followed by Slaughterhouse Five in 1972. Subsequently, films have been made of many of his other works, including Slapstick (1982), Mother Night (1996), and Breakfast of Champions (1999).

    NOTE: This is a work in progress...more to come!


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    Home | Silents Please! | The Golden Age | Current Films | Hoosiers in Hollywood | Movie Music  | About Me | Links | Linking to the Site | Guestbook | Contact Dave



All contents of this website 2000-2013 by David L. Smith

"When Movies Were Movies" and "Hoosiers in Hollywood" are  registered trademarks, fully protected under U.S. and International law. Use without permission is strictly prohibited.


Home |Silents Please! |The Golden Age |Current Films |Hoosiers in Hollywood |Movie Music | |About Me |Links |Linking to the Site |Guestbook |Contact Dave