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Lillian Hellman

Lillian Hellman

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Also Known As: Lillian Florence Hellman Died: June 30, 1984
Born: June 20, 1905 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA Profession: playwright, author, screenwriter, play reader, press agent, director, script reader at MGM, journalist

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Leading American dramatist whose tough, socially conscious dramas achieved critical and commercial success in the 1930s and 40s. Hellman was blacklisted in 1952 for refusing to identify former leftist associates to the House Committee on Un-American Activities with the now-famous declaration that "I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions." She was portrayed by Jane Fonda in the successful 1977 film "Julia", based on one of her short stories and by Judy Davis in the TV biography "Dash and Lilly" (A&E, 1999).

Leading American dramatist whose tough, socially conscious dramas achieved critical and commercial success in the 1930s and 40s. Hellman was blacklisted in 1952 for refusing to identify former leftist associates to the House Committee on Un-American Activities with the now-famous declaration that "I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions." She was portrayed by Jane Fonda in the successful 1977 film "Julia", based on one of her short stories and by Judy Davis in the TV biography "Dash and Lilly" (A&E, 1999).

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Directed By William Wyler (1986) Herself
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Divided childhood between NYC (where her parents lived) and New Orleans (where her father's sisters ran a boarding house)
:
After dropping out of NYU. was hired by Horace Liveright to work as publisher's assistant
:
After 1925 marriage, moved to Paris briefly then returned to NYC
1925:
Was a book reviewer for the New York <i>Herald Tribune</i>
1929:
Moved to Hollywood when then-husband was hired by Paramount
1930:
Worked as a script reader
1932:
With Louis Kronenberg, wrote unproduced comedy "The Dear Queen"
1934:
Had Broadway success with "The Children's Hour"; Hammett had recounted a true story of two Scottish schoolteachers who lost their jobs amid rumors of a lesbian affair; Hellman reportedly later told people that Hammett wrote much of the play for which she took credit
1935:
Feature debut, co-wrote screenplay with Mordaunt Shairp, "The Dark Angel"
1936:
Solo screenwriting debut, "These Three", adapted from her play "The Children's Hour"; also first collaboration with William Wyler
1937:
Traveled to Europe (including a visit to Moscow); also went to Spain with Ernest Hemingway
1939:
Enjoyed Broadway hit with "The Little Foxes"
1941:
Penned "Watch on the Rhine"
1941:
Received first Academy Award nomination for adaptation of her play "The Little Foxes"
1943:
Garnered second Oscar nomination for original script "The North Star"
1944:
Wrote the antifascist themed play "The Searching Wind"
1948:
Visited Yugoslavia and interviewed Marshall Tito
1949:
Directed and adapted the French play "Montserrat"
1951:
Had another Broadway success with "The Autumn Garden"
1952:
Subpoenaed to testify before the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities; refused to name names and made now famous comment, "I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions"
1954:
Translated Jean Anouilh's play ("L'Allouete") about Joan of Arc as "The Lark"
1955:
Debut as librettist, adapted with Richard Wilbur Voltaire's "Candide" as a stage musical with a score by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by John Latouche
1960:
Last original Broadway play, "Toys in the Attic", starring Jason Robards
1961:
Final collaboration with Wyler, adapted another screen version of "The Children's Hour"
1966:
Final screenplay credit, "The Chase"
1969:
Issued first volume of memoirs, "An Unfinished Woman"
1972:
Adapted "Another Part of the Forest" for PBS
1977:
Portrayed by Jane Fonda in "Julia", a film based on parts of her book "Pentimento"; Jason Robards co-starred as Hammett
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

New York University: New York , New York - 1922 - 1924
Columbia University: New York , New York - 1924

Notes

In a televised interview, rival author Mary McCarthy made the now (in)famous statement, "Every word she [Hellman] writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'." Hellman filed a million-dollar slander lawsuit against McCarthy.

One Muriel Gardner claimed that her life story was actually the basis for the story of Julia that Hellman included in "Pentimento" and that formed the basis of the 1977 book. Gardner also claimed that she had never met Lillian Hellman.

"Lillian was a celebrity hound." --Martha's Vineyard resident Carly Simon on her famous neighbor.

"When I first went out to Hollywood one heard talk from writers about whoring. But you are not tempted to whore unless you want to be a whore." --Lillian Hellman quoted in "Playwrights at Work: The Paris Review Interviews", edited by George Plimpton, (Modern Library, 2000).

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Arthur Kober. Writer, press agent. Married on December 30, 1925; he filed for divorce in 1930 after Hellman engaged in public affair with Dashiel Hammett; Hellman became pregnant with his child before they married and had first of seven abortions; divorced in 1932.
companion:
Dashiel Hammett. Novelist. Met in 1930; had on-again, off-again relationship until his death on January 10, 1961.
companion:
Ralph Ingersoll. Magazine publisher. Was married at time of their affair.
companion:
John Melby. Diplomat. Born c. 1913; became involved during WWII; was married at time of their relationship; later dismissed from US State Department reputedly because of his affair with Hellman and her pro-Soviet Union views.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Max Hellman. Traveling salesman, shoe factory owner. Owned Hellman Shoe Factory in New Orleans; moved family to NYC c. 1911 when business failed.
mother:
Julia Newhouse. Heiress; reportedly Hellman's father married her mother only for her money.

Bibliography close complete biography

"An Unfinished Woman"
"Scoundrel Time"
"Pentimento"
"A Likely Story: One Summer With Lillian Hellman" Doubleday
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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