Maltz, Albert, 1908-1985

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1908-10-28
Death 1985-04-26
Gender:
Male
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Author; interviewee d. 1985.

From the description of Reminiscences of Albert Maltz : oral history, 1982. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122597732

Albert Maltz (1908-1985) was a movie screenwriter, playwright, and novelist during the twentieth century. Born in Brooklyn, New York and educated at Columbia University and Yale University, Maltz started his show business career as a playwright and wrote several plays during the 1930s, including the Broadway play "The Black Pit" (1935). He turned to screenwriting during the 1940s and wrote scripts for a number of movies between the 1940s and 1970s, including "The Robe" (1953). Maltz's screenwriting career was interrupted in 1947. He was a member of the "Hollywood Ten", a group of Hollywood figures who refused to answer the questions of the House Committee on Un-American Activities concerning alleged communist influence in the movie industry. For this, he was jailed for contempt of Congress and was blacklisted by the movie industry until the mid 1960s. In addition to his work in theater and movies, Maltz was author of a number of novels, including "The Journey of Simon McKeever" (1949) and "A Long Day in a Short Life" (1957), and numerous short stories.

From the guide to the Albert Maltz Papers, 1910-1985, (University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.)

Albert Maltz (1908-1985) was a movie screenwriter, playwright, and novelist during the twentieth century. Born in Brooklyn, New York and educated at Columbia University and Yale University, Maltz started his show business career as a playwright and wrote several plays during the 1930s, including the Broadway play "The Black Pit" (1935). He turned to screenwriting during the 1940s and wrote scripts for a number of movies between the 1940s and 1970s, including "The Robe" (1953). Maltz's screenwriting career was interrupted in 1947. He was a member of the "Hollywood Ten", a group of Hollywood figures who refused to answer the questions of the House Committee on Un-American Activities concerning alleged communist influence in the movie industry. For this, he was jailed for contempt of Congress and was blacklisted by the movie industry until the mid 1960s. In addition to his work in theater and movies, Maltz was author of a number of novels, including "The Journey of Simon McKeever" (1949) and "A Long Day in a Short Life" (1957) and numerous short stories.

From the description of Albert Maltz papers, 1910-1985. (University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center). WorldCat record id: 163948893

Albert Maltz was born on October 28, 1908, in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated, Phi Beta Kappa, with an A. B. in Philosophy from Columbia University in 1930. He then pursued graduate study for two years at Yale University’s School of Drama and began writing plays with fellow student and collaborator George Sklar. Influenced by the social and economic conditions of the time, Maltz and Sklar coauthored Merry Go Round (1932) and Peace on Earth (1933). In 1932, the two playwrights helped form a production company, the Theatre Union, which dissolved in 1937. Political corruption, antiwar sentiment, and labor issues were common themes of the company’s productions. In 1935, the same year Maltz joined the Communist Party, the company produced Maltz’s play, Black Pit . Maltz married his first wife, Margaret Larkin, in 1937.

Maltz expanded his exploration of America’s social and economic conditions and critique of American capitalist society in his short stories. These pieces enjoyed critical success and were published and reprinted in numerous publications. The Happiest Man won first prize in the O. Henry Memorial Awards for 1938. Many of Maltz’s stories were collected and published as The Way Things Are and Other Stories (1938) and Afternoon in the Jungle: The Selected Short Stories of Albert Maltz (1970). Maltz published his first novel, The Underground Stream: An Historical Novel of a Moment in the American Winter, in 1940 but was unable to achieve financial success in New York. Intending to write screenplays to finance his other writing, he and his family moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1941.

Maltz’s first produced screenplay, This Gun for Hire, based on Graham Greene’s novel of the same name (also published as A Gun for Sale ), was cowritten with W. R. Burnett in 1941. While in Hollywood, Maltz wrote and collaborated on several screenplays and continued writing novels. His screenplays include Destination Tokyo (1943), Cloak and Dagger (1946), and The Naked City (1948). He received an Academy Award nomination for Pride of the Marines (1945) and won Academy Awards for his work on the documentary Moscow Strikes Back (1943) and for the film short The House I Live In (1945). Maltz’s second novel The Cross and the Arrow was published in 1944.

In spite of his successful writing career, Maltz may be best remembered as one of the “Hollywood Ten.” In 1947, Maltz, along with other Hollywood artists, was called to testify at the House Un-American Activities Committee regarding his status as a Communist. He and ten other Hollywood writers refused to respond and were held in contempt of Congress. In 1949, while his case progressed through the court system, Maltz published his third novel, The Journey of Simon McKeever . The following year, Maltz was sentenced to one year in prison and served from June 1950 to April 1951.

Upon his release, Maltz moved to Mexico where, despite his blacklisting, he continued to write stories, novels, and screenplays. He sometimes used the pseudonym Julian Silva or a front man to get his works published or produced. He returned to Hollywood in 1962 and one year later divorced his first wife, Margaret. In 1964, Maltz married Rosemary Wylde. One year after Wylde’s death in 1968, Maltz married Esther Engelberg. In 1970, Maltz’s 20 year status on Hollywood's blacklist ended with his credited screenplay Two Mules for Sister Sara .

Maltz died on April 26, 1985, in Los Angeles, California. In 1991, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences posthumously restored Maltz’s name to the 1950 nomination for his previously uncredited screenplay, Broken Arrow .

From the guide to the Albert Maltz, This Gun for Hire, Collection, 1941, (The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center)

Novelist, short story writer.

(Columbia University A.B., 1930).

From the description of Albert Maltz papers, [ca. 1940]-1983. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 606938378

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Subjects:

  • Blacklisting of authors
  • Motion picture industry--20th century
  • Novelists, American--20th century
  • Playwriting
  • Theater--20th century
  • Motion pictures--United States--20th century
  • Drama (American)
  • Theater
  • Literature--20th century
  • Authors--Interviews
  • Authors
  • Motion picture authorship--20th century
  • Theater--United States--20th century
  • Depressions--1929
  • Motion pictures--20th century
  • Crime--Drama
  • Motion picture authorship--United States--20th century
  • Plays--United States--20th century
  • Dramatists--United States--20th century
  • Screenwriters--United States--20th century
  • Prompt-book
  • Screenwriters
  • Plays--20th century
  • Literature--United States--20th century
  • Prisoners
  • Theater--Production and direction
  • American literature--20th century
  • Motion picture plays
  • Experimental theater
  • Motion picture industry--United States--20th century
  • Screenwriters--20th century
  • Motion pictures--Censorship
  • Dramatists--20th century

Occupations:

  • Authors
  • Writer

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)