Ryskind, Morrie, 1895-1985

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Morrie Ryskind, playwright, poet, and columnist, was born on October 20, 1895 in Brooklyn. After high school he attended The Columbia University School of Journalism where he served as editor of Columbia's humor magazine The Jester . In 1917, six weeks from graduation, Ryskind was expelled for writing an editorial which called Columbia President Nicholas Murray Butler, "Czar Nicholas". Ryskind was later awarded his degree in 1942.

Ryskind's professional career as a writer began soon after his expulsion when he was hired as a reporter by The World, a post he held until 1921. That year he published a book of light verse called Unaccustomed as I Am, which received favorable reviews. Ryskind's poetry had appeared in numerous collegiate as well as professional publications. In 1924 Ryskind wrote shorts for the Garrick Gaieties drawing the attention of George Kaufman who asked him to collaborate on the musical Cocoanuts, a Marx Brothers vehicle with music by Irving Berlin. Ryskind worked with Berlin again in 1940 on the Broadway hit, The Louisiana Purchase . His collaboration with Kaufman included Animal Crackers and the film A Night at the Opera . Ryskind later adapted Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers for the screen, both successes for the Marx Brothers. When he married Mary House in 1929, Groucho Marx was his best man.

Ryskind and Kaufman also collaborated with George and Ira Gershwin on three musicals, Strike Up the Band, Let 'Em Eat Cake, and Of Thee I Sing for which they shared the 1932 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Of Thee I Sing was such a hit, that the phrase "to be a Throttlebottom," referring to one of the play's characters, entered into the cultural vocabulary of the country and Ryskind was prompted to write the book, The Diary of an Ex-President, from the point of view of the fictitious Wintergreen, Commander-in-Chief of the United States.

In 1935 Ryskind left for Hollywood where he received two Academy Award nominations for the films, My Man Godfrey (1936) and Stage Door (1939). He also wrote the screenplays for Room Service, Man About Town, and Claudia .

By the late 1940's Ryskind had ceased to write for either the stage or screen. In 1947 he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee on the Communist infiltration of Hollywood. As a result of his testimony, Ryskind later said that he had been professionally ostracized. Ryskind became more involved with conservative politics as the years went on, serving as one of the original directors of The National Review . In 1960 he became a columnist for The Los Angeles Times Syndicate . He resigned in 1965 when one of his columns was suppressed. Later that year he joined The Los Angeles Herald Examiner, where he remained until he retired in 1978. Morrie Ryskind died in his home in Washington DC in 1985; he was 89 years old.

From the guide to the Morrie Ryskind papers, 1911-1985, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Berlin, Irving, 1888-1989. MGM and Twentieth Century-Fox screenplays, 1931-1963 (bulk 1937-1955). Brown University, Brown University Library
creatorOf Seiter, William A., 1890-1964. Panique à l'hôtel / William A. Seiter, réal. ; John Murray, Allen Boretz, aut. adaptés ; Morrie Ryskind, scénario ; Roy Webb, comp. ; Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx... [et al.], act. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf Barrymore, Ethel, 1879-1959. Richard L. Coe Theater Programs Collection playbill advertisements and miscellany. Library of Congress
referencedIn Kaufman, George S. (George Simon), 1889-1961. Papers, [microform] 1918-1958. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Seiter, William A., 1890-1964. Panique à l'hôtel / William A. Seiter, réal. ; John Murray, Allen Boretz, aut. adaptés ; Morrie Ryskind, scénario ; Roy Webb, comp. ; Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx... [et al.], act. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf Gershwin, George, 1898-1937. George and Ira Gershwin collection, 1895-2008 (bulk 1920-1960). Library of Congress
referencedIn The Nation, records, 1879-1974 (inclusive), 1920-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library, , Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Meredith, Scott. Research files [microform], 1971-1974. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Kaufman, George S. (George Simon), 1889-1961. George S. Kaufman papers, 1911-1941. Library of Congress
creatorOf Gershwin, George, 1898-1937. Pardon my English / music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin ; book by Herbert Fields and Morrie Ryskind ; concert adaptation by David Ives. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Ryskind, Morrie, 1895-1985. Papers, 1927-1978. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
creatorOf Kaufman, George S. (George Simon), 1889-1961. Of thee I sing : mimeograph copy of typescript, [1931]. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Marshall, Lenore, 1897-1971. Papers, 1887-1980. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn George S. Kaufman papers, [microform], 1918-1958 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn George and Ira Gershwin Collection, 1895-2008, (bulk 1920-1960) Music Division Library of Congress
creatorOf Gershwin, Ira, 1896-1983. Of thee I sing. Lyrics. 1 folder. (14 p.). New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Morrie Ryskind papers, 1911-1985 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Oswald Garrison Villard papers, 1872-1949. Houghton Library, , Harvard College Library, Harvard University
creatorOf Ryskind, Morrie, 1895-1985. Autograph banking check : payable to Drug Fair, 1985 Aug. 16. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Gershwin, George, 1898-1937. Of thee I sing : typescript, 2004. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Jo Mielziner papers, 1903-1976 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn John Mason Brown papers, 1922-1967. Houghton Library, , Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn George S. Kaufman Papers, 1911-1941 Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
referencedIn E. Y. (Yip) Harburg papers, 1913-1985 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Gershwin, George, 1898-1937. Of thee I sing. [1952] 2 folders. (102 p.). New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Kaufman, George S. (George Simon), 1889-1961. Papers, 1918-1958. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
creatorOf Kaufman, George S. (George Simon), 1889-1961. George S. Kaufman Collection 1920-1990 (bulk 1931-1949). Library of Congress
creatorOf Ryskind, Morrie, 1895-1985. Louisiana purchase. Music & lyrics by Irving Berlin, book by Morrie Ryskind. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Gershwin, George, 1898-1937. Of thee I sing : a musical play / music & lyrics by George Gershwin & Ira Gershwin ; book by George S. Kaufman & Morrie Ryskind ; concert adaptation by David Ives, 2006. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Knickerbocker, William Skinkle, 1892-. William Skinkle Knickerbocker letters, 1922-1967. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Gershwin, George, 1898-1937. Opening Act I .... Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Macy, George. George Macy papers, 1916-1970. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith American Guild of Authors and Composers corporateBody
associatedWith Ball, Lucille, 1911- person
associatedWith Benny, Jack, 1894-1974 person
associatedWith Berlin, Irving, 1888- person
associatedWith Berlin, Irving, 1888-1989. person
correspondedWith Brown, John Mason, 1900-1969 person
associatedWith Buckley, William F. (William Frank), 1925-2008. person
associatedWith Cantor, Eddie, 1892-1964 person
associatedWith Chodorov, Jerome person
associatedWith Columbia University corporateBody
associatedWith Edna Ferber person
associatedWith Franken, Rose, 1895-1988 person
associatedWith George Kaufman person
associatedWith Gershwin, George, 1898-1937. person
associatedWith Gershwin, Ira, 1896- person
associatedWith Gershwin, Ira, 1896-1983. person
associatedWith Goldwater, Barry M. (Barry Morris), 1909- person
associatedWith Goulding, Edmund, 1891-1959 person
associatedWith Grant, Cary, 1904- person
associatedWith Groucho Marx person
associatedWith Harburg, E. Y. (Edgar Yipsel), 1896-1981 person
associatedWith Harris, Sam, 1872-1941 person
associatedWith Hawks, Howard, 1896- person
associatedWith Ira Gershwin person
associatedWith Kalmar, Bert, 1884-1947 person
associatedWith Katherine Dunham person
associatedWith Kaufman, George S. (George Simon), 1889-1961. person
associatedWith Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963 person
associatedWith Knickerbocker, William Skinkle, 1892- person
associatedWith Lamour, Dorothy, 1914- person
associatedWith Library of Congress corporateBody
associatedWith Macy, George. person
associatedWith Marshall, Lenore, 1897-1971. person
associatedWith Marx, Chico, 1887-1961 person
associatedWith Marx, Groucho, 1890-1977 person
associatedWith Marx, Harpo, 1888-1964 person
associatedWith Mary Pickford person
correspondedWith Matthews, J. B. (Joseph Brown), 1894-1966 person
associatedWith MCA Ltd corporateBody
associatedWith McGuire, Dorothy, 1918- person
associatedWith Menjou, Adolphe, 1890-1963 person
associatedWith Meredith, Scott. person
associatedWith Mielziner, Jo, 1901-1976 person
associatedWith Music Publishers Holding Corporation corporateBody
correspondedWith Nation (New York, N.Y. : 1865). corporateBody
associatedWith Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994. person
associatedWith Paramount-Artcraft Pictures corporateBody
associatedWith Paramount Pictures corporateBody
associatedWith Porter, Cole, 1891-1964 person
associatedWith Reagan, Ronald. person
associatedWith Rodgers, Richard, 1902- person
associatedWith Russell, Rosalind person
associatedWith Sandrich, Mark, 1900-1945 person
associatedWith Songwriters' Protective Association corporateBody
associatedWith Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-American Activities corporateBody
associatedWith Victor Moore person
correspondedWith Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949 person
associatedWith Wendell Wilkie person
associatedWith Young, Robert, 1907- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Editorials
Motion pictures
Musical theater
Screenwriters--United States
Prompt-book
Communism and motion pictures
Dramatists, American
Political plays
Journalists
Drama (American)
Motion picture authorship
Occupation
Librettists
Function

Person

Birth 1895-10-20

Death 1985-08-24

Americans

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