Ring Lardner, Jr. Biography

Ringgold Wilmer "Ring" Lardner, Jr. (August 19, 1915 – October 31, 2000) was an American journalist and screenwriter blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studios during the Red Scare of the late 1940s and 1950s.

Early life

Born in Chicago, he was the son of Ellis (Abbott) and journalist and humorist, Ring Lardner. After being educated at Phillips Academy, Andover, and Princeton University he became a reporter on the New York Daily Mirror. Lardner joined the US Communist Party in 1936.

Career

Ring Lardner Jr. moved to Hollywood where he worked as a publicist and "script doctor" before writing his own material. This included Woman of the Year, a film that won him an Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay in 1942. He also worked on the scripts for the films Laura (1944), Brotherhood of Man (1946), Forever Amber (1947), and M*A*S*H (1970). The script of the latter earned him an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, but Lardner would later distance himself from the film due to the fact that director Robert Altman changed the script so much.

Lardner held strong left-wing views and during the Spanish Civil War he helped raise funds for the Republican cause. He was also involved in organizing anti-fascist demonstrations. His brother, James Lardner, was a member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, and was killed in action in Spain in 1938. Although his political involvement upset the owners of the film studios, he continued to be given work and in 1947 became one of the highest paid scriptwriters in Hollywood when he signed a contract with 20th Century Fox at $2,000 a week.