Jerome Weidman Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Of Jewish background, Jerome Weidman (WID-muhn) was the son of Joseph and Annie (Falkovitz) Weidman. His father was an Austrian immigrant; his mother was from Hungary. Because his parents knew hardly any English, Weidman did not speak that language fluently until he was five years old. He married Elizabeth Ann Payne, a writer, in 1943. Among their children are Jeffrey and John Whitney.

Weidman attended City College (now City College of the City University of New York) from 1931 to 1933, Washington Square College from 1933 to 1934, and New York University Law School from 1934 to 1937. His military and wartime service included work in the U.S. Office of War Information from 1942 to 1945. Before becoming a full-time writer, he worked at various jobs such as soda jerk, newsboy, stenographer, mail clerk, and accountant. He was a member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild of the Authors League of America, of which he was president from 1969 to 1974, and the Writers Guild of America, East.

When Weidman graduated from high school, the Great Depression was at its height. He read for entertainment and held a job in the New York City garment district for a weekly salary of eleven dollars. His writing career was spurred by ten dollars he received when a magazine accepted a short story he wrote and submitted. His first novel, I Can Get It for You Wholesale, was written as a result of a contest he entered; he wrote a chapter each night. The novel portrays its Jewish protagonist as ruthless and traces his path from upstart to ambitious manufacturer who is unable to find happiness in life. Although the novel did not win the contest, it was eventually published, and critical response was very positive. The book was successful enough that Weidman followed up with a sequel, What’s in It for Me? The sequel continues to depict the protagonist as a man unable to love, a despicable human being, lacking any sensibilities....

(The entire section is 798 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Educated in stints at City College, New York, 1931-1933; Washington Square College, 1933-1934; and New York University Law School, 1934-1937, Jerome Weidman married Elizabeth Ann Payne and has three children. He was cowinner of the Pulitzer Prize in drama and winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and the Antionette Perry (“Tony”) Award, all for Fiorello! in 1960. He is a member of the Authors Guild and Dramatists Guild of Authors League of America of which he served as president from 1969 to 1974, and the Writers Guild of America West. Settling in the San Francisco area in the early 1990’s, Weidman’s work on a second autobiographical volume and short stories and sketches are also drawn from his Lower East Side childhood and his young adulthood living in the Bronx.