John Patrick was born John Patrick Goggan on May 17, 1905, in Louisville, Kentucky. Following a rift with his parents, which he did not publicly discuss, Patrick spent a portion of his youth living with relatives and attending boarding schools such as St. Mary’s Seminary in La Porte, Texas, and St. Edward’s College in Austin, Texas. Later he attended Holy Cross College in New Orleans and was a summer school student at Harvard and Columbia universities. In the early 1930’s, Patrick began a career in San Francisco as a scriptwriter for the National Broadcasting Company, where he authored numerous radio scripts and earned a reputation for his radio dramatizations of novels.
In 1935, Patrick’s first play, a melodrama titled Hell Freezes Over, concerning polar explorers whose dirigible crash-lands in the Antarctic, was produced on Broadway; the production was the directorial debut of Joshua Logan, who went on to gain fame as director of South Pacific (1949) and many other Broadway musicals. Hell Freezes Over closed after an unfavorable reception, causing critic George Jean Nathan to remark that its playwright should be thrown back to Hollywood. Perhaps taking his cue from Nathan, a talent scout secured for Patrick a Hollywood contract. Returning to California, Patrick developed his craft by writing thirty or more screenplays between 1936 and 1968 for such studios as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Twentieth Century-Fox.
Leaving Hollywood (to which he would often return for screenwriting assignments) in the late 1930’s, Patrick established himself in Boston. It was there that he wrote “The Gentle...
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