George S. Kaufman Born

KaufmanToday sees the birthday of the playwright George S. Kaufman, who co-wrote more hit plays than anyone else in the history of Broadway and one play and musical that he wrote won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama; You Can’t Take It With You (1937, with Moss Hart), and Of Thee I Sing (1932, with Morrie Ryskind and Ira Gershwin).

Kaufman for all his genius had his quirks, a terrible case of hypochondria being among them.  This he inherited from his Mother who wouldn’t let him play with other children for fear of germs and she wouldn’t let him drink milk either.  The only beverage he was ever allowed to drink was boiled water.  This led to him having a morbid fear of dying in his sleep that was so severe he often wouldn’t sleep for days on end; he was also terrified of being touched and he never shook hands.  Uncomfortable with any expression of affection between human beings, Kaufman was surprisingly married twice.

Despite all his various foibles, partners that worked with the man through the years all said that he was a meticulous polisher and rewriter and that he was never satisfied with a script even up to the last minute.  On the most triumphant of opening nights, he could always be found backstage, pale and terrified that the play would be a flop.

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Oscar Hijuelos 1951 ~ 2013

Oscar

Oscar Hijuelos, a Cuban-American novelist, and the first Hispanic to win a Pulitzer prize, died of a heart attack whilst playing tennis in Manhattan on Saturday.

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, the novel which won the Pulitzer prize, published in 1989, tells the story of two Cuban brothers who travel from Havana to New York to start an orchestra. The book, which became a bestseller and won international acclaim, was eventually turned into a movie starring Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas.

His other novels include Our House in the Last World, Empress of the Splendid Season, Dark Dude, The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O’Brien and A Simple Habana Melody.

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