Jerome Lawrence Biography


Jerome Lawrence Schwartz, with his partner, Robert E. Lee, was instrumental in the commercial, intellectual, and public development of American theater in the mid-twentieth century. His father, Samuel Schwartz, owned a printing company, and his mother, Sarah (Rogen) Schwartz, was a poet. Propelled by the family’s literary affiliations, Lawrence’s interest in drama bloomed in his high school and college days, when he acted in and directed school and summer theater productions. As a teenager, he studied writing with Eugene C. Davis and later, at Ohio State University, with Harlan Hatcher, Herman Miller, and Robert Newdick.{$S[A]Schwartz, Jerome Lawrence;Lawrence, Jerome}

Lawrence began writing prizewinning plays at Ohio State (from which he graduated cum laude), but it was his writing experience during World War II that shaped his creative abilities and social outlook. Staff Sergeant Lawrence served as a consultant to the secretary of war and later as Army correspondent in North Africa and Italy. In addition to serving in the military, Lawrence worked as a journalist, reporter, and telegraph editor of small Ohio daily newspapers and as a continuity editor at radio station KMPC in Beverly Hills. While writing for CBS radio, he met fellow Ohioan Robert E. Lee in Manhattan in January, 1942. Over lunch the next week, they began their first collaboration, Inside a Kid’s Head, a radio play. The two men established an office in Los Angeles within a few months, joined the military that summer, and produced programs for the Armed Forces Radio Service.

Lawrence and...

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(Drama for Students)

From the 1940s until Lee's death in 1994, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee were a writing and publishing team. Together they wrote some 39...

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(Drama for Students)

Jerome Lawrence was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 14, 1915. Robert E. Lee was born in Elyria, Ohio, on October 15, 1918. Although both men...

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Bryan, William Jennings. The Scopes Trial and “Inherit the Wind.” Dayton, Tenn.: William Jennings Bryan College, 1995. This volume presents background on the fundamentalist argument, William Jennings Bryan, and John Scopes and the criticism of Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s interpretation of events in their play.

Winchester, Mark D. “Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee: A Classified Bibliography.” Studies in American Drama, 1945-Present 7 (1992): 88-160. An exhaustive bibliography of both authors.

Woods, Alan. Selected Plays of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1995. Includes a foreword by Norman Cousins and a bibliography.