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The Trial of Vivienne Ware

The Trial of Vivienne Ware(1932)

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NOTES

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The novel by Kenneth M. Ellis originally appeared in serial form in the New York American newspaper during the time period in which the radio drama of the same name was broadcast over New York station WJZ. According to an article in Radio Digest, in October 1930, Edmund D. Coblentz, the editor of New York American, read about the broadcast of a murder trial in Copenhagen and got the idea to sponsor a fictional murder trial that would be broadcast in New York over the radio. He assigned Ellis, a feature writer for the newspaper, to write the story and arranged with WJZ of the NBC network to broadcast the trial on six successive nights. The circulation department of the paper offered money prizes for the best verdicts that listeners sent in. U.S. Senator Robert F. Wagner from New York played the judge in the broadcast, while internationally famous lawyer George Gordon Battle and former Assistant District Attorney of New York Ferdinand Pecora played the lawyers. The play was subsequently broadcast in other cities where Hearst newspapers were published. A sequel, entitled Dolores Divine, Guilty or Innocent, which was also written by Ellis and published first serially in the New York American and then in book form (New York, 1931), also attracted famous legal names to participate in the cast, including ex-Governor of New York, Charles Whitman and former New York Supreme Court Justice Jeremiah T. Mahoney. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, the writers of the screenplay read both books before starting work on a treatment, and they were unable to state how much of either was used in the final film, which credits only the earlier novel.