To highlight the wonderful yet largely forgotten work of a collection of female screenwriters from the early years of Hollywood (and as a companion to the book, When Women Wrote Hollywood) we will be posting quick bits about the many films they wrote along with links to further information and clips from their works which are still accessible online. Take a few moments once or twice a week to become familiar with their names and their stories. I think you’ll be surprised at how much bold material these writers tackled at the birth of this new medium. — Rosanne Welch
Lillian Florence Hellman (June 20, 1905 – June 30, 1984) was an American dramatist and screenwriter known for her success as a playwright on Broadway, as well as her left-wing sympathies and political activism. She was blacklisted after her appearance before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) at the height of the anti-communist campaigns of 1947–52. Although she continued to work on Broadway in the 1950s, her blacklisting by the American film industry caused a drop in her income. Many praised Hellman for refusing to answer questions by HUAC, but others believed, despite her denial, that she had belonged to the Communist Party.
As a playwright, Hellman had many successes on Broadway, including Watch on the Rhine, The Autumn Garden, Toys in the Attic, Another Part of the Forest, The Children’s Hour and The Little Foxes. She adapted her semi-autobiographical play The Little Foxes into a screenplay, which starred Bette Davis and received an Academy Award nomination in 1942.
Hellman was romantically involved with fellow writer and political activist Dashiell Hammett, author of the classic detective novels The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man, who also was blacklisted for 10 years until his death in 1961. The couple never married — Wikipedia
More about Lillian Hellman
- Read more about this screenwriter in When Women Wrote Hollywood
- Like When Women Wrote Hollywood on Facebook
- Lillian Hellman on Wikipedia
- Lillian Hellman on IMDB
More books by and about Lillian Hellman
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† Available from the LA Public Library