Robert Ludlum Biography


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Robert Ludlum was born on May 25, 1927, in New York City, the son of George Hartford Ludlum and Margaret Wadsworth. His family was from the upper middle class, and although his father died when Ludlum was still young, he attended a series of private schools. He became enamored of acting and the theater, and on his own initiative he obtained a part in a Broadway show. Before finishing school, he attempted to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force but was rejected because he was underage. He later served in the United States Marine Corps. After leaving the service, he enrolled in Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, as a theater major. At college he met his future wife, Mary Ryducha, with whom he later had three children. Ludlum was graduated with honors in 1951.

For the next several years Ludlum pursued an acting career. He was moderately successful, playing a number of parts in regional theater, on Broadway, and particularly in television. He became a featured player but never achieved stardom, often playing, he said, a murderer or a lawyer. In the late 1950’s he turned to producing plays rather than acting in them, and he established a financially successful theater in a New Jersey suburban shopping center; he later complained that although he personally wished to produce more avant-garde plays, they inevitably were financial failures. By 1970, at the age of forty-three, he was ready for a new beginning.

Ludlum had considered becoming a writer for many years. He took the plot for his first novel from a short-story outline that he had begun years before. After numerous rejections, The Scarlatti Inheritance was published in 1971. He continued to supplement his income by doing voice-overs for television and radio advertisements, but by the mid-1970’s his novels had become so successful that he was able to write full-time. From their home in a two-hundred-year-old farmhouse in suburban Connecticut, Ludlum and his wife traveled widely. Many notes and photographs from their travels served as research for his novels. On March 12, 2001, Ludlum died in Naples, Florida.

Robert Ludlum Biography

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Robert Ludlum was born on May 25, 1927, to George Hartford Ludlum and Margaret Wadsworth Ludlum. His father died when Ludlum was seven. Ludlum’s maternal grandfather, a silk trader, had left the family wealthy enough to afford to send the boy to private boarding schools in Connecticut.

Ludlum’s first loves were acting and the stage. At the age of sixteen, he landed a role in the long-running Broadway production of Junior Miss. Later the same year, he joined the production’s national touring company. It was during the height of World War II, and the touring company was playing Detroit when young Ludlum decided to cross the border into Windsor, Ontario, Canada, to try to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. He failed in his effort, turned away as underage. However, upon graduating from Cheshire Academy, he forged his mother’s signature and signed up with the U.S. Marine Corps, with which he would serve two years in the South Pacific, where his duty assignment was that of librarian. Ludlum entered and exited the Marines a private. He chronicled his experiences in the military in more than five hundred pages of manuscript, which he then lost after a night on the town in San Francisco.

After his military service, Ludlum enrolled as a theater major at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. He graduated with a B.A. degree and honors in theater in 1951. While in college, he met the woman who would become his first wife, Mary...

(The entire section is 546 words.)

Robert Ludlum Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Robert Ludlum was one of the twentieth century’s most successful practitioners of the conspiracy thriller, wherein an individual is faced with a series of overwhelming events created by powerful evil forces which threaten not only his life but often the peace and security of the entire world.{$S[A]Ryder, Jonathan;Ludlum, Robert}{$S[A]Shepherd, Michael;Ludlum, Robert}

Born in New York City into an upper-middle-class family, Ludlum was only seven years old when his father, George Hartford Ludlum, died. His mother, Margaret Wadsworth, daughter of a wealthy businessman, provided a financially comfortable childhood for him in New Jersey. He was educated at private schools in Connecticut and, attracted to acting, took part in many school productions. At the age of sixteen he began auditioning in New York for theater roles, obtaining a part in the Broadway production of Junior Miss in 1943. While touring with the show, he attempted to join the Royal Canadian Air Force but was rejected because of his age. In 1944, Ludlum forged his mother’s name and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, serving in the South Pacific. His military career was unrewarding, as he found the tedium and the military chain of command restricting and frustrating. He kept a diary of his Marine Corps experiences but lost it when he returned to mainland, later joking that it might have been another The Naked and the Dead (by Norman Mailer, 1948).

After his discharge, Ludlum enrolled in Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, as a theater major. There he met his future wife, Mary Ryducha, with whom he would have three children. He graduated with honors in 1951. During the following decade, Ludlum was moderately successful as an actor. He performed in a number of New England repertory theaters as well as in several New York productions, but he was most successful in the relatively new venue of television, where he appeared in two hundred dramas for such prestigious shows as Robert Montgomery Presents, the Kraft Television Theatre, Studio One, and Omnibus. Ludlum never achieved stardom, and he later noted that he was often typecast as either a murderer or a lawyer. He also wrote several plays during those years, which could have been acting vehicles for himself, but none was produced.

Believing that his acting career had stalled, toward the end of the 1950’s he turned to producing plays rather than acting in them. He stated that as a producer he had more freedom of action and more artistic control in what was produced and how it was presented than he had as an actor. In some ways this paralleled his frustrating military career, in that he was required to follow the orders of his superiors.

From his own acting days, and a supporter of the concept of regional theaters, Ludlum was first associated with the North Jersey Playhouse in Fort Lee, New Jersey. He later established and operated the Playhouse-on-the-Mall in a suburban shopping center in Paramus, New Jersey. During the 1960’s Ludlum produced approximately 370 plays, including productions of serious dramas such as William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (c. 1600-1601) and controversial works such as Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1962). However, he claimed that whenever he attempted any serious works they were invariably financial failures: The audiences only wanted what was familiar to them, mainly comedies. As in his earlier experience as an actor, Ludlum discovered that even...

(The entire section is 1453 words.)