Goetz, Ruth

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Playwright, adapter and translator, Ruth Goodman Goetz was born January 12, 1912 in Philadelphia, the only child of Lily Cartun Goodman and Philip Goodman, a theatrical producer and writer. She grew up in New York City and was educated at P.S. 93 and later at Miss Marshall's Classes for Young Gentlewomen. She left Miss Marshall's at the age of 15 and attended school in Paris for two years, possibly at the Sorbonne. Mrs. Goetz studied scenic design with Norman Bel Geddes and worked as a costume and scenic designer. After a reversal in her family's finances, H. L. Mencken, a family friend, obtained a position for Ruth around 1930 with Blanche and Alfred A. Knopf in their publishing house. One source indicates she also read scripts for Samuel Goldwyn.

After Philip Goodman sold some properties to the movies, he and Ruth sailed for Europe on the DeGrasse. It was on this ship that she met a stockbroker named Augustus Otto Goetz. They were married on October 11, 1932. Soon after their marriage, Augustus Goetz gave up his Wall Street job to pursue a writing career. He and Ruth returned to Europe, living in boarding houses for a year and a half while attempting to write. After returning to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where they purchased a farmhouse in Keller's Church, they began to write seriously. Their third play, Franklin Street, a comedy based on Philip Goodman's recollections of his early life in Philadelphia, was produced at the National Theater, Washington, D.C. in September 1940. One Man Show, the Goetzes' next play, opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on February 8, 1945. In 1946, their only child, Judith, was born.

The Goetzes' most famous play, The Heiress, was adapted from the Henry James novel, Washington Square . After a brief out-of-town run under the same title as the novel, the Goetzes revised the play and it opened on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre, September 29, 1947 starring Basil Rathbone and Wendy Hiller. After the success of the play, Ruth and Augustus Goetz went to Hollywood as writers on the Paramount lot. There they wrote the screenplay for The Heiress, directed by William Wyler, which was released in 1949. Their screenplay was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award that same year. They also adapted Theodore Dreiser's novel Sister Carrie for the screen; it was released as Carrie in 1952. Other screenplays include Rhapsody (MGM, 1954), and Stage Struck (Buena Vista, 1958).

After five years in Hollywood, Ruth and Augustus Goetz returned to New York, where they purchased a house at 1380 Lexington Avenue. They adapted André Gide's novel, The Immoralist for the stage, which opened at the Royale Theatre on February 8, 1954. The last play they wrote together was The Hidden River . Based on Storm Jameson's novel, The Hidden River opened at the Playhouse Theatre on January 23, 1957.

Ruth Goetz continued writing subsequent to her husband's death in September 1957. She collaborated with George S. Kaufman on Ring in the New, which was never produced. She also wrote Sweet Love Remember'd, which closed in New Haven in 1959 following the death of its star, Margaret Sullavan. Mrs. Goetz also adapted and translated several French plays, including L'Amour Fou by Andre Roussin (produced out of town in 1963 and 1964 as Madly in Love ). She collaborated with Bart Howard on Play on Love, which they adapted from Comme au Theatre by Francoise Dorin. The play opened at St. Martin's Theatre, London on January 14, 1970. Other plays include a number of unproduced works, such as her adaptation of The Odyssey for a Cup of Tea by Jean Michel Ribes (1974), Giving and Taking (1977), and C'Etait Comment Dejas ( How It Was and Is ) by Jean Bouchaud, which she adapted (1980). Around 1962, Ruth Goetz also wrote A Class of One, her unpublished memoir.

Throughout the 1970s, Ruth Goetz spent extended periods of time in London, where her daughter Judith and her family lived. She also traveled frequently to Europe. A lifelong registered Democrat, she campaigned for Franklin D. Roosevelt, speaking and writing in 1940 and 1944 and later worked for the civil rights cause. Mrs. Goetz also served actively for several decades on the boards and as an officer of several professional organizations such as The Authors League Fund, The Authors League of America, The Dramatists Guild, The Dramatists Guild Fund, the New York Institute for the Humanities, and Young Playwrights, Inc. She was appointed to Community Planning Board No. 8 of New York and worked as a volunteer at P.S. 9 in Harlem through the Public Education Association, a group which attempted to raise reading scores in underprivileged schools. Ruth Goetz currently lives in New York City.

Augustus Otto Goetz was born in Buffalo, New York in 1899, to Augustus, an insurance man, and Blanche Goetz. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a member of the varsity crew. According to some sources, he attended a number of Catholic schools, such as Fordham University and Georgetown University. Mr. Goetz served as a Navy flier in World War I. In 1930, he worked as a lifeguard in Atlantic City. He went to work as a bond salesman and trader on Wall Street and began to think about becoming a writer. Augustus Goetz married Ruth Goodman in 1932 and they lived for several years in Paris, Vienna and elsewhere in Europe.

In addition to his collaborations with Ruth Goetz, in 1939, Augustus Goetz wrote a series of humorous stories, including Home is Where You Hang Yourself with S.J. Perelman, which was published in the New Yorker . Augustus Goetz died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City after a brief illness on September 30, 1957.

Producer and author Philip Goodman, father of Ruth Goetz, was born in Philadelphia in 1885. As a young man, he came to New York and worked on a magazine edited by Theodore Dreiser. He later went into the advertising business and eventually owned his own agency and published The Ad News, a trade magazine. Although the exact year is unknown, it is known that Philip Goodman married Lily Cartun sometime before 1912, when Ruth was born.

Because of his admiration for the work of the writer Don Marquis, Philip Goodman convinced him to write a play about his character Clem Hawley, The Old Soak . In 1922, Arthur Hopkins produced the play with the same title at the Plymouth Theatre in New York on August 22, 1922. In 1923, Goodman produced the musical comedy Poppy, which featured W.C. Fields and Madge Kennedy. Other Philip Goodman productions include Dear Sir by Edgar Selwyn, music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Howard Dietz (1924), The Ramblers by Guy Bolton, Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, featuring Clark and McCullough (1926), The Wild Man of Borneo by Marc Connelly and Herman J. Mankiewicz (1927), the musicals The Five O'Clock Girl by Guy Bolton, Fred Thompson, Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby (1927), and Rainbow by Lawrence Stallings and Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Vincent Youmans (1928). In 1929, Goodman produced Among the Married by Vincent Lawrence.

Philip Goodman's final production was Washington Heights also by Vincent Lawrence (1931). His final years were devoted to writing plays. One of these, Lady at Large was produced by the Shuberts out of town. He died of a heart ailment on July 20, 1940 in New York City at the age of 55. Franklin Street, his memoirs of his early years in Philadelphia, was published by Alfred A. Knopf two years after Philip Goodman's death. (It appears that Ruth Goetz completed this book.)

From the guide to the Ruth and Augustus Goetz papers, 1930-1966, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Ruth Goodman Goetz (1912- ) and Augustus Goetz (1889-1957) collaborated on writing plays for the theatre and movies. Her father, Philip Goodman (1885-1940), was a producer of Broadway plays and musicals.

From the guide to the Ruth and Augustus Goetz papers, 1892-1954, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Ruth and Augustus Goetz papers, 1930-1966 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Aaron Copland Collection, 1841-1991, (bulk 1911-1990) Library of Congress. Music Division
creatorOf Ruth and Augustus Goetz papers, 1892-1954 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn James M. Cain Papers, 1901-1978, (bulk 1925-1978) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn George S. Kaufman papers, [microform], 1918-1958 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Herman Buchman papers, 1939-1990 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Elisabeth Fraser papers, 1920-1999 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Abe Burrows papers, 1904-1993 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
Role Title Holding Repository
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Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
American drama
Occupation
Dramatists
Function

Person

Birth 1908-01-11

Death 2001-10-12

Americans

English

Information

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