Helen Deutsch


Screenwriter

About

Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
March 21, 1906
Died
March 14, 1992
Cause of Death
Natural Causes

Biography

This award-winning screenwriter of the 1940s, 50s and 60s spent the majority of her career at MGM. A prolific writer who never learned to type but dictated her stories into a Dictaphone, Deutsch turned out more than 20 short stories for magazines and hundreds of newspaper articles as well as several plays and teleplays. She began her career in the theater, first managing the Provincetown...

Family & Companions

Michael Gold
Companion
Political activist.
Spencer Pollard
Husband
Professor. Briefly married; marriage annulled; taught economics at Harvard and in 1939 became first director of NYU's Educational Film Institute.
Leslie Howard
Companion
Actor. Together in the 1930s.
Clifford Odets
Companion
Playwright. Together in the 1940s.

Bibliography

"The Provincetown"
Helen Deutsch and Stella Hannau (1931)

Notes

She published numerous short stories and articles in magazines in the 1930s and 1940s.

Deutsch was a student of medieval English, French, German and English and a Sanskrit scholar. She collected rare books and manuscripts which she donated to Boston University.

Biography

This award-winning screenwriter of the 1940s, 50s and 60s spent the majority of her career at MGM. A prolific writer who never learned to type but dictated her stories into a Dictaphone, Deutsch turned out more than 20 short stories for magazines and hundreds of newspaper articles as well as several plays and teleplays. She began her career in the theater, first managing the Provincetown Players and working as a publicist, later covering the theater beat for the NEW YORK HERALD-TRIBUNE and THE NEW YORK TIMES and working for the Theater Guild.

Deutsch entered films in 1944, collaborating on the adaptation of Enid Bagnold's novel "National Velvet" which catapulted the young Elizabeth Taylor to stardom. In the same year, she scripted "The Seventh Cross," which starred Spencer Tracy as a refugee from a Nazi death camp. Deutsch's work ranged from espionage fluff ("Golden Earrings" 1947) to epic adventures ("King Solomon's Mines" 1950), psychological melodrama ("I'll Cry Tomorrow" 1955) and musicals ("The Unsinkable Molly Brown" 1964). Her best-loved film is "Lili" (1953), the charming classic about a childlike waif (Leslie Caron) smitten with a womanizing magician and loved by a crippled puppeteer (Mel Ferrer). Deutsch not only wrote the lyrics for the movie's hit song "Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo" but later wrote the libretto for "Carnival," the 1961 Bob Merrill Broadway musical based on the film.

Life Events

1926

While still a senior at Barnard, managed the Provincetown Players in New York until troupe went out of business

1944

Co-wrote first screenplay, "National Velvet"

1946

Relocated to Hollywood

1956

Wrote first TV script for "Jack and the Beanstalk"

1957

Scripted TV special, "The General Motors 50th Anniversary Show"

1961

Wrote libretto for Broadway musical "Carnival" (based on her screenplay for "Lili"), shared writer credit with Bob Merrill

1966

Returned to New York

1967

Disavowed authorship of final screenplay for "Valley of the Dolls"; claimed that novel's author Jacqueline Susann had meddled with the script

Videos

Movie Clip

Glass Slipper, The (1955) - Goodbye, Cinder Ella! The narrator sounds like Walter Pidgeon because he is, opening the MGM Leslie Caron vehicle, derived from the first published version of Cinderella (1697, by Charles Perrault, Cendrillon ou la petite pantoufle de verre), directed by Charles Walters, music by Bronislau Kaper, dance by Roland Petit for Ballet de Paris, The Glass Slipper, 1955, also starring Michael Wilding.
Glass Slipper, The (1955) - How Cold Is The Water? The prince Charles (Michael Wilding), just returned to “a small European principality,” and pal Kovin (Keenan Wynn) are wandering in the woods at an old favorite site when Leslie Caron, the indignant local tomboy who’s decided she doesn’t mind being called “Cinderella,” shows up with an attitude, their first meeting, in MGM’s The Glass Slipper, 1955.
Glass Slipper, The (1955) - Son Of The Cook More than 40-minutes into the feature, in a sequence dreamed up by servant girl “Ella” (Leslie Caron), who’s been told that Prince Charles (Michael Wilding) is just “the son of the cook of the palace of the duke,” she joins the first dance number, Charles Walters directing, dance by Roland Petit for Ballet de Paris, in MGM’s The Glass Slipper, 1955.
I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955) - We Did What? Newly happy and confident now that she's using alcohol to cope with grief over the death of her first husband, singer Lillian Roth (Susan Hayward) on a wild date with soldier Wallie (Don Taylor), whom she scarcely knows, in I'll Cry Tomorrow, 1955.
I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955) - Sing You Sinners Grand entrance for Susan Hayward, as the now grown-up Lillian Roth, in Hollywood shooting the number "Sing, You Sinners" by W. Franke Harling and Sam Coslow, as made famous by the real Roth in Honey, 1930, Jo Van Fleet her preening mother, in I'll Cry Tomorrow, 1955.
I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955) - Adorable Drunk Losing her grip again, now in the thrall of her money-grubbing third husband Tony (Richard Conte), singer Lillian Roth (Susan Hayward) has an incident in an LA bar, in I'll Cry Tomorrow, 1955.
Shockproof (1949) - Change Your Brand Of Men Nifty opening by director Douglas Sirk and co-screenwriters Helen Deutsch and Samuel Fuller, introducing female lead Patricia Knight, who joins her then-husband Cornel Wilde, who reveals the nature of their character's business, in Shockproof, 1949.
Lili (1953) - You Have No Family? Everyone’s French and idyllic, Jean Pierre Aumont, Kurt Kasznar and Mel Ferrer haggling over fruit when title character Leslie Caron (in her first role after An American In Paris), arrives, her expectations let down, Alex Gerry as a storekeeper, opening the MGM fantasy musical hit Lili, 1953.
Lili (1953) - I'm A Very Interesting Fellow 16-year-old French orphan Leslie Caron (title character), fired from the carnival after failure as a waitress, moping until puppeteer Paul (Mel Ferrer) sees an opportunity, draws her into conference with his puppets, based on other members of the troupe, in MGM’s Lili, 1953.
Plymouth Adventure (1952) - 132 Rutting Beasts Busted by first mate Coppin (Lloyd Bridges) for wasting water, youthful Pilgrim wife Dorothy Bradford (Gene Tierney), who’s already been nearly assaulted by captain Jones (Spencer Tracy), earns a real rude talking-to, in MGM’s Plymouth Adventure, 1952.
Plymouth Adventure (1952) - We Be Loaded Deep Exhaustive exposition from producer Dore Schary, focused on introducing Leo Genn and Gene Tierney as the Bradfords, Kathleen Lockhart as Mrs. Brewster, John Dehner as Winslow, Van Johnson as Alden, finally Spencer Tracy as Jones, Lloyd Bridges as Coppin, in MGM's Plymouth Adventure, 1952.
Plymouth Adventure (1952) - Or Die In Our Souls... The second ship now out of the picture, Captain Jones (Spencer Tracy) receives the determined Pilgrim spokesman (Leo Genn as Bradford, with Lowell Gilmore and Paul Cavanaugh) and offers new rules, especially regarding their previously incognito fugitive leader Brewster (Barry Jones), in MGM’s Plymouth Adventure, 1952.

Trailer

King Solomon's Mines - (Original Trailer) A spirited widow (Deborah Kerr) hires a daredevil jungle scout (Stewart Granger) to find a lost treasure in diamonds.
Unsinkable Molly Brown, The - (Original Trailer) A backwoods girl strikes it rich in Colorado and crashes high society in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964) starring Debbie Reynolds.
Lili - (Original Trailer) A French orphan gets a job with a carnival puppet show in Lili (1953), starring Leslie Caron, Mel Ferrer and Zsa Zsa Gabor.
Forever Darling - (Original Trailer) Desi Arnaz may say "I don't love Lucy!" unless her guardian angel (James Mason) can fix their marriage in Forever Darling (1956).
Loves of Carmen, The - (Original Trailer) It's The Loves of Carmen (1948) without the opera but with Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford and beautiful Technicolor.
Kim - (Original Trailer) Errol Flynn is a horse trader in Colonial India who befriends the orphaned boy Kim (1950) played by the young Dean Stockwell in Rudyard Kipling's classic tale.
Plymouth Adventure - (Original Trailer) Spencer Tracy and Gene Tierney star in Plymouth Adventure (1952), an epic dramatization of the Pilgrams' journey to the new world on the Mayflower.
Seventh Cross, The - (Original Trailer) The original trailer featuring a speedy retrospective of star Spencer Tracy's career, for The Seventh Cross, 1944, also starring Signe Hasso and Hume Cronyn.
I'll Cry Tomorrow - (Original Trailer) Susan Hayward stars in the true story of singer and actress Lillian Roth and her battle with alcoholism in I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955).

Family

Heyman Deutsch
Father
Furniture maker.
Ann Deutsch
Mother
Died when Helen was a child.
Martin Deutsch
Brother
Older.
Harry Deutsch
Brother
Older.

Companions

Michael Gold
Companion
Political activist.
Spencer Pollard
Husband
Professor. Briefly married; marriage annulled; taught economics at Harvard and in 1939 became first director of NYU's Educational Film Institute.
Leslie Howard
Companion
Actor. Together in the 1930s.
Clifford Odets
Companion
Playwright. Together in the 1940s.
Gregory Bautzer
Companion
Lawyer. Together in the 1950s.

Bibliography

"The Provincetown"
Helen Deutsch and Stella Hannau (1931)

Notes

She published numerous short stories and articles in magazines in the 1930s and 1940s.

Deutsch was a student of medieval English, French, German and English and a Sanskrit scholar. She collected rare books and manuscripts which she donated to Boston University.