Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 451
Reginald Rose was born on December 10, 1920, in New York City, the son of William (a lawyer) and Alice (Obendorfer) Rose. Rose attended City College (now of the City University of New York) from 1937 to 1938 but did not graduate. During World War II and shortly after, he served in the U.S. Army, from 1942 to 1946, ending his army career as a first lieutenant. In 1943, Rose married Barbara Langbart, and they had four children.
After the war and continuing into the early 1950s, Rose worked as a clerk, publicity writer for Warner Brothers Pictures, and advertising copywriter. He also wrote short stories and novels, but he never had any luck selling his work until he turned to writing plays for television. CBS bought the first script he wrote, called The Bus to Nowhere, and it aired live in 1951. He then became a regular writer for CBS's Studio One, a weekly show that produced live drama. His plays for Studio One included Dino, The Death and Life of Larry Benson, The Remarkable Incident at Carson Corners, and Thunder on Sycamore Street, all of which aired in 1954. In the same year, Rose wrote Twelve Angry Men, the work for which he is best known. The play, which was inspired by his experience of jury service, was broadcast on September 20, 1954. It won an Emmy Award for best-written drama and a Writer's Guild of America Award. The teleplay was published in Rose's Six Television Plays in 1956.
Twelve Angry Men was published in an expanded form as a stage play in 1955 and made into a successful film in 1957, starring Henry Fonda and coproduced by Fonda and Rose. The film garnered Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, and an Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Motion Picture Screen-play from Mystery Writers of America.
Rose continued to write television scripts during the 1960s and beyond. One of his best-known shows was the series The Defenders (1961–1965), about a father-and-son team of defense lawyers. Other shows included A Quiet Game of Cards (1959), the Studs Lonigan miniseries (1979), Escape from Sobibor (1987), and made-for-television movies of Twelve Angry Men and The Defenders: Taking the First in the 1990s.
Rose wrote five plays for the stage, including Black Monday in 1962 and This Agony, This Triumph in 1972, as well as several rewrites of Twelve Angry Men (1960, 1964, and 1996). He also wrote eleven screenplays besides Twelve Angry Men, including Somebody Killed Her Husband (1978), The Wild Geese (1978; based on a novel by Daniel Carney), and Whose Life Is It Anyway? (1981), starring Richard Dreyfuss.
Rose's first marriage ended in divorce. He married his second wife, Ellen McLaughlin, in 1963; they had two children. He died on April 19, 2002, in Norwalk, Connecticut.
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