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Saroyan, William Biography




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biography of Saroyan, William

31 August 1908, Fresno, California, USA
18 May 1981, Fresno, California, USA (cancer)
Oscar winner and prestigious Pulitzer Prize recipient, William Saroyan, was born on August 31, 1908 in a Californian town of Fresno in an Armenian family of Armenak and Takoohi Saroyan. His first literary works were published between 1928 and 1936 and he then worked as a Hollywood writer for B. P. Schulberg and Columbia Pictures. In 1939 and 1940 William Saroyan's "My Heart's in the Highlands" and "The Time of Your Life" were staged for theater and "Love's Old Sweet Song" opened on Broadway and he received New York Critics Circle Award. In 1942 Saroyan made a short subject film "The Good Job" for Louis B. Mayer and in 1943 his MGM screenplay "The Human Comedy" was novelized and published and received great reviews. In 1944 he received the Academy Award for Best Writing Original Story for "The Human Comedy". He wrote the lyrics of Ross Bagdasarian's famous # 1 hit song "Come On-a My House", performed by Rosemary Clooney, which was featured in Madonna's 2002 "Swept Away". Saroyan is one of the most important American writers of the 20th century, perhaps the only writer to receive both the Pulitzer Prize and the Academy Award, and his work continues to appear on the theater stage and the silver screen worldwide.
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-   'Carol Grace' (qv) (20 February 1943 - September 1949) (divorced); 2 children

-   'Carol Grace' (qv) (25 March 1951 - 1952) (remarried, divorced)


-   Father of actress 'Lucy Saroyan' (qv).

-   Ex-wife Carol (nee Marcus) later married 'Walter Matthau' (qv).

-   Pictured on a 25¢ US commemorative postage stamp in the Literary Arts series, issued 22 May 1991. The Soviet Union also issued 1-ruble stamp with the same design on that date.

-   Children by Carol Grace: son Aram (b. 25 September 1943), daughter Lucy (b. 17 January 1946)

-   Divorced Carol Grace when he learned she was illegitimate and Jewish, but soon tried to get her to take him back. She divorced him with months of their second marriage.

-   Won 1940 Pulitzer Prize for his play "The Time Of Your Life"; he declined the award.

-   The Academy Award statuette that he won for "The Human Comedy" (1943) briefly adorrned a pawn shop window in San Francisco. The Oscar has been in possession of Saroyan's sister, and after she died in 1990, someone hocked it at the Mission Jewelry & Loan Co. for $250. Pawn broker Darryl Kaplan donated it to the William Saroyan Society in Fresno, California, despite having numerous offers to buy it, including one for $20,000 from a literary figure. The Oscar eventually was transferred to the Fresno Metropolitan Museum. Fresno was Saroyan's hometown and the site where "The Human Comedy" takes place.

-   The Best Writing, Original Story Academy Award he won for "The Human Comedy" (1943) was made out of plaster. Though he didn't attend the ceremony held at Graumann's Chinese Theatre on March 2, 1944, saying he "didn't want to bother carrying it around," he did eventually get the Oscar. The plaster award was exchanged for a metal one in 1946 after World War Two restrictions on metals were lifted. His sister Cosette, knowing he didn't want it, asked for it, and he gave it to her. Although thought missing after his death in 1981, it was in fact in her possession until she died in 1990.

-   Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 701-703. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.

-   His play, "My Heart's in the Highlands", was written in twenty-four hours.

-   Once brought a greasy bag of fried prawns into a high class bar in San Francisco. When he noticed that people were staring at him, he offered to share them with everybody.

-   Had never been to the East Coast before 1934.


-   (1939) Stage: Wrote "The Time of Your Life", produced on Broadway (original production). NOTE: (1) Won the Pulitzer Prize). (2) Filmed as _The Time of Your Life (1948)_ (qv), _"Playhouse 90" (1956) {The Time of Your Life (#3.3)}_ (qv).

-   Playwright: "The Cave Dweller".

-   (1995) Stage: Wrote "The Time of Your Life," performed at the Raven Theatre Company in Chicago, IL. Jack Phend was scenic designer.

-   (2003) Stage: Wrote "The Time of Your Life," performed at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, IL, with Guy Adkins in the cast. The crew included Tina Landau (director), G.W. "Skip" Mercier (scenic designer), Michael Bodeen and Rob Milburn (sound designers).

-   Playwrght: "Hello Out There".

-   (1983) Stage: Wrote "The Time of Your Life," in a Royal Shakespeare Company production, performed at The Other Place Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, with John Thaw, 'Daniel Massey (I)' (qv), 'Zoë Wanamaker' (qv) and Henry Goodman in the cast. Barry Kyle was director.

-   (1950) "Hello Out There" produced by BBC-TV, 17 March 1950.

-   (1989) Stage: Wrote "The Cave Dweller," performed at the Prop Theatre in Chicago, Il, with 'Neil Giuntoli' (qv) in the cast.

-   (1984) Stage: Wrote "The Time of Your Life," performed at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, IL. Cast and crew also included 'Del Close' (qv), Nan Cibula (costume designer), Robert Christen (lighting designer), directed by Donald W. Moffatt.

-   (1943). Stage Play: Get Away Old Man. Comedy. Written by 'William Saroyan' (qv). Directed by 'George Abbott (I)' (qv). Cort Theatre: 24 Nov 1943- 4 Dec 1943 (13 performances). Cast: 'Mason Adams (I)' (qv) (as "Messenger") [Broadway debut], 'Glenn Anders' (qv) (as "Sam"), 'Ed Begley (I)' (qv) (as "Patrick Hammer"), Edwin Hodge (as "Correspondent of the N.Y. Times"), Sula Levitch, 'Joyce Mathews' (qv), Beatrice Pearson, 'Jerome Thor' (qv) (as "Doctor"), 'Hilda Vaughn' (qv) (as "Rose Schornbloom"), 'Richard Widmark' (qv) (as "Harry Bird"). Produced by George Abbott.


-   Saroyan. Lawrence Lee & Barry Gifford. Harper & Row, 1984. isbn 0060151412

-   Harold Clurman. _The Fervent Years: The Story of the Group Theatre and the Thirties._ New York: A Harvest Book/Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975. ISBN 0156305119


-   "So that's a Broadway show. For God's sake, I could write a better one than that in twenty-four hours!" To Random House publisher Bennett Cerf, after being taken to his first Broadway play, Ceiling Zero. He did it, too!


-   _William Saroyan: I Saw the Mighty Armenia (1977)_ (qv)


-   "The Los Angeles Times" (USA), 2 March 2008, by: Marc Weingarten, "Fresno Honors Hometown Literary Hero, William Saroyan"

-   "Theatre Arts" (USA), December 1958, Vol. 42, Iss. 12, pg. 25-26, by: John Chapman, "Saroyan, Bless Him"

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Videos of Saroyan, William


Saroyan, William Videos


Written by Saroyan, William

  1. The Armenian and the Armenian (2010) (poem)
  2. Izgnanie (2007) (book "The Laughing Matter") <1,1,1>
  3. "ABC Weekend Specials" (1977) {The Parsley Garden (#13.2)} (short story)
  4. Vremya vashey zhizni (1992) (play)
  5. "Teatro estudio" (1977) {La hermosa gente}
  6. Elämäsi parhain aika (1978) (TV) (play "The Time of Your Life")
  7. The Time of Your Life (1976) (TV) (play)
  8. Im sirte lernerum e (1976) (TV) (play "My Heart is in the Highlands") <1,1,1>
  9. Im sirte lernerum e (1976) (TV) (story "White Horse Summer") <1,2,1>
  10. "NET Opera Theater" (1967) {My Heart's in the Highlands} (play)
  11. Moje je srce visoko u brdima (1968) (TV) (novel)
  12. V gorakh moyo serdtse (1967) (book)
  13. "Estudio 1" (1964) {El momento de tu vida} (play)
  14. Osteri ja helmi (1965) (TV) (play "The Oyster And The Pearl) <1,1,1>
  15. Hei siellä! (1965) (TV) (play "Hello Out There") <1,1,1>
  16. Ein Leben lang (1964) (TV)
  17. Hello, jij daar! (1964) (TV) (play "Hello-out there!")
  18. Zwei oder drei Ehen (1964) (TV) (play) <1,1,1>
  19. L'huitre et la perle (1964) (TV) (play)
  20. "Summer Playhouse" (1954) {The Human Comedy} (characters)
  21. De vackra människorna (1962) (TV) (play "The Beautiful People")
  22. "General Electric Theater" (1953) {The Unstoppable Gray Fox (#10.32)} (writer)
  23. Le massacre des innocents (1961) (TV) (play)
  24. Die Pariser Komödie (1961) (TV) (play)
  25. "Ragazza mia" (1960) (novel)
  26. Mijn hart is het Hoogland (1960) (TV) (play "My Heart's in the Highlands")
  27. "Play of the Week" (1959) {Two by Saroyan: 'Once Around the Block' and 'My Heart's in the Highlands' (#2.7)} (plays "Once Around the Block" and "My Heart's in the Highlands")
  28. "The DuPont Show of the Month" (1957) {The Human Comedy (#2.7)} (story)
  29. "Playhouse 90" (1956) {The Time of Your Life (#3.3)} (play)
  30. "Armchair Theatre" (1956) {Time of Your Life (#3.6)} (play)
  31. "ITV Television Playhouse" (1955) {My Heart's in the Highlands (#2.50)} (play)
  32. "Teledrama" (1955) {O Tempo de Sua Vida (#2.50)} (play)
  33. "Omnibus" (1952) {The Best Year in the Whole History of the World (#4.13)} (writer)
  34. "Omnibus" (1952) {The Christmas Tie (#5.11)} (play)
  35. "Omnibus" (1952) {TV/Radio Workshop of the Ford Foundation (#5.4)} (play "My Heart's in the Highlands)
  36. A.N.T.A. Album of 1955 (1955) (TV) (play "The Christmas Tie")
  37. Die bösen Männer (1955) (TV)
  38. Østersen og Perlen (1955) (TV) (play)
  39. "Screen Directors Playhouse" (1955) {A Midsummer Daydream (#1.3)} (writer)
  40. "Hollywood Opening Night" (1951) {Mrs. Genius (#2.17)} (story)
  41. Mon coeur est dans les Highlands (1953) (TV) (play)
  42. "Omnibus" (1952) {The Abracadabra Kid (#1.24)} (written by)
  43. Hallo, derude (1953) (TV) (play)
  44. "Omnibus" (1952) {Toy Symphony with Stokowski (#1.23)} (written by)
  45. "Cameo Theatre" (1950) {A Daughter to Think About (#1.7)} (written by)
  46. "The Bigelow Theatre" (1950) {My Heart's in the Highlands} (play)
  47. "The Silver Theatre" (1949) {My Heart's in the Highlands (#1.39)} (story)
  48. Hello Out There (1949) (play)
  49. "Actor's Studio" (1948) {The Man with the Heart in the Highlands (#2.11)} (story)
  50. The Time of Your Life (1948) (play) <1,1,1>
  51. George Stevens World War II Footage (1946)
  52. The Human Comedy (1943) (from the story by) <1,1,1>