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Encyclopedia > George S. Kaufmann

George Simon Kaufman (November 16, 1889 - June 2, 1961) was a playwright, director, producer, and drama critic most noted for his many collaborations with other writers. He wrote only one play alone, The Butter and Egg Man, in 1925. All his other plays were written in collaboration with other writers: with Marc Connelly he wrote Merton of the Movies and Beggar on Horseback; with Ring Lardner he wrote June Moon; with Edna Ferber he wrote The Royal Family, Dinner at Eight, and Stage Door; with John P. Marquand he wrote a stage adaptation of Marquand's novel The Late George Apley; and with Howard Teichmann he wrote The Solid Gold Cadillac. Possibly his most successful collaboration in the non-musical theatre was with Moss Hart, with whom he wrote several popular plays, including Once in a Lifetime, You Can't Take It With You, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1936, and The Man Who Came to Dinner. whose lead character was based on critic and wit Alexander Woollcott. Kaufman collaborated on several musicals as well, including The Cocoanuts, written with Irving Berlin for the Marx Brothers, Animal Crackers, also written for the Marx Brothers with Morrie Ryskind, Bert Kalmar, and Harry Ruby, and Of Thee I Sing (Pulitzer Prize, 1931) and Let 'Em Eat Cake; with Ryskind and George Gershwin.

Kaufman was also a noted director who staged the original productions of The Front Page by Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, and the Frank Loesser musical Guys and Dolls. Kaufman produced many of his own plays as well as those of other writers, and his drama criticism was known for its wit. Of one comedy he wrote, "There was laughter at the back of the theatre, leading to the belief that someone was telling jokes back there."

He was a member of the celebrated Algonquin Round Table, a circle of witty writers and show business people.



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