Author Profile

(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

The son of humorist Ring Lardner, Ring Lardner, Jr., began his own career as a reporter for the Daily Mirror in New York but later became a Hollywood screenwriter. He received his first Academy Award for his screenplay for the 1942 film Woman of the Year, starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, and received a second Oscar for his screenplay of Robert Altman’s 1970 screen version of MASH. For a long interval between these two awards, however, Lardner was blacklisted in Hollywood as a member of the “Hollywood Ten.”

In 1947 Lardner earned the ire of the House Committee on Un- American Activities by refusing, along with nine other Hollywood figures, to respond to the committee’s inquiries as to whether he had ever been a member of the Communist Party. To this question Lardner reportedly stated: “I could answer that the way you want, but I’d hate myself in the morning.” All of the Hollywood Ten served jail sentences for contempt. Lardner served nine and a half months in Danbury Federal Correctional Institute. After leaving jail, Lardner found himself blacklisted in Hollywood and was forced to sell his work under assumed names. In 1964, his ostracism finally ended when he was hired to write the screenplay for The Cincinnati Kid, which starred Ann-Margret and Steve McQueen.