Patrick, John 1905-1995
PATRICK, John 1905-1995
PERSONAL: Birth name, John Patrick Goggan; name legally changed; born May 17, 1905, in Louisville, KY; died of an apparent suicide, November 7, 1995, in Delray Beach, FL; son of John Francis and Myrtle (Osborn) Goggan. Education: Attended Holy Cross College, St. Edward's College, St. Mary's Seminary, Harvard University, and Columbia University.
CAREER: Playwright and author of screenplays. National Broadcasting Corp. (NBC-Radio), San Francisco, CA, scriptwriter, 1933-36; freelance writer in
Hollywood, CA, 1936-38. Also appeared in several movies, including (as bartender) Spoilers of the Forest, 1957; (as Sgt. Malin) Revolution, 1985; (as seaman) Buster, 1988; and (as poker instructor) Honeymoon in Vegas, 1992. Military service: American Field Service, 1942-44; served as ambulance driver; became captain; served with Montgomery's Eight Army in Egypt and with the British Ninth Army in Syria.
MEMBER: Dramatists Guild.
AWARDS, HONORS: New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best American play of the year, Pulitzer Prize in drama, Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award, League of New York Theatres and Producers, Aegis Club Award, and Donaldson Award, Billboard Magazine, all 1954, all for The Teahouse of the August Moon; Screenwriters Guild Award and Foreign Correspondents Award, both 1957, both for Les Girls; D.F.A. from Baldwin-Wallace College, 1972; honored with Patrick Film Festival, in Virgin Islands, 1979.
Hell Freezes Over, first produced in New York, NY, at the Ritz Theatre, December 28, 1935.
The Willow and I (three-act; first produced in New York, NY, at the Windsor Theatre, December 10, 1942), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1943.
The Hasty Heart: A Play in Three Acts (first produced Off-Broadway at Hudson Theatre, January 3, 1945), Random House (New York, NY), 1945; published as The Hasty Heart: Comedy-Drama in Three Acts, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1945.
The Story of Mary Surratt: A Play in Three Acts (first produced on Broadway at Henry Miller's Theatre, February 8, 1947), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1947.
The Curious Savage (three-act; first produced on Broadway at Martin Beck Theatre, October 24, 1950), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1951.
Lo and Behold!: A New Comedy in Three Acts (first produced on Broadway at Booth Theatre, December 12, 1951), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1952.
The Teahouse of the August Moon: A Play (adapted from the novel by Verne J. Sneider; first produced on Broadway at Martin Beck Theatre, October 15, 1953), Putnam (New York, NY), 1952, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1957.
Good as Gold (three-act; adapted from the novel by Alfred Toombs), first produced on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre, March 7, 1957.
(With James Norman) Juniper and the Pagans, first produced in Boston, MA, at the Colonial Theater, December 10, 1959.
Everybody Loves Opal: A "Prank" in Three Acts (first produced on Broadway at Longacre Theatre, October 11, 1961), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1962.
Everybody's Girl: A Comedy in Three Acts (first produced in Miami, FL, 1967; produced in Albuquerque, NM, at the Albuquerque Little Theatre, September, 1968), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1968.
Scandal Point: A Play in Three Acts (first produced in Albuquerque, NM, at the Albuquerque Little Theatre, September, 1967; produced in Paramus, NJ, at the Paramus Playhouse, May 12, 1970), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1969.
Love Is a Time of Day (first produced on Broadway at Music Box, December 22, 1969), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1970.
Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen (adapted from his play The Teahouse of the August Moon; music and lyrics by Stan Freeman and Franklin Underwood; first produced on Broadway at Majestic Theatre, December 28, 1970), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1971.
A Barrel Full of Pennies (two-act; first produced in Paramus, NJ, at the Playhouse on the Mall, May 12, 1970), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1971.
Opal Is a Diamond (first produced in Flat Rock, NC, at Flat Rock Playhouse, the State Theatre of North Carolina, July 27, 1972), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1972.
Roman Conquest: A Play in Three Acts (first produced in Berea, Ohio, at Baldwin-Wallace Summer Theatre [formerly Berea Summer Theatre], July 25, 1973), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1972.
Macbeth Did It (three-act; first produced in Flat Rock, NC, at Flat Rock Playhouse, the State Theatre of North Carolina, July, 1972), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1972.
The Dancing Mice: A Drama in Three Acts (first produced in Berea, OH, at Baldwin-Wallace Summer Theatre, June, 1972), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1972.
Anybody Out There?, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1972.
Love Nest for Three, Samuel French (New York, NY), 1973.
Sex on the Sixth Floor: Three One-Act Plays (includes Tenacity, Ambiguity, and Frustration; first produced in 1974), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1973.
Opal's Baby: A New Sequel in Two Acts (first produced in Flat Rock, NC, at Flat Rock Playhouse, the State Theatre of North Carolina, June 26, 1973), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1974.
The Enigma (first produced in Berea, OH, at Baldwin-Wallace Summer Theatre, June 12, 1972), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1974.
A Bad Year for Tomatoes (first produced in North Royalton, OH, at the John Patrick Dinner Theatre at the You Are Cabaret Dinner Theatre, 1974), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1975.
Opal's Husband (first produced in Flat Rock, NC, at the Flat Rock Playhouse, the State Theatre of North Carolina, 1975), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1975.
It's Been Wonderful (first produced in Albuquerque, NM, at the Albuquerque Little Theatre, September, 1966), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1976, 1998.
Divorce, Anyone? (first produced in North Royalston, OH, at the John Patrick Dinner Theatre at the You Are Cabaret Dinner Theatre, 1975), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1976.
Suicide, Anyone? (first produced in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, at the Fortuna Theatre Club, 1976), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1976.
Noah's Animals: A Musical Allegory (first produced in Berea, OH, at the Baldwin-Wallace Summer Theatre, 1975), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1976.
That's Not My Mother: Three One Act Plays (includes Seniority, Redemption, and Optimism; first produced in Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands, 1979), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1980.
People!: Three One Act Plays (includes Boredom, Christmas Spirit, and Aptitude; first produced in North Royalston, OH, at the John Patrick Dinner Theatre at the You Are Cabaret Dinner Theatre, October, 1976), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1980.
The Girls of the Garden Club: A Comedy in Three Acts (first produced in Berea, Ohio, at the Baldwin-Wallace Summer Theatre, July, 1979), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1980.
That's Not My Father!: Three One Act Plays (includes Raconteur, Fettucine, and Masquerade; first produced in Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands, at the Fortune Theatre Club, 1979), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1980.
Opal's Million Dollar Duck (first produced in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, at the School of Performing Arts, September, 1979), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1980.
The Magenta Moth, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1983.
It's a Dog's Life (three one-act plays; includes The Gift, Co-Incidence, and The Divorce; first produced in New York, NY, 1980), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1984.
Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, first produced in Louisville, KY, 1984.
The Reluctant Rogue, or, Mother's Day, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1984.
Cheating Cheaters: A Comedy, Dramatist Play Service (New York, NY), 1985.
The Gay Deceiver: A Play in Three Acts, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1988.
The Doctor Will See You Now: Four One-Act Plays, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1991.
Dirty Ditties, Penguin (New York, NY), 1996, recorded by Dove Audio (Los Angeles, CA), 1996.
Also author of other plays, including The Chiropodist, Compulsion, Confession, Empathy, Four Dogs and a Bone, The Gynecologist, Habit, Integrity, Loyalty, The Physician, and The Psychiatrist.
screenplays; all by twentieth century-fox, unless otherwise indicated
(With Lou Breslow and David Silverstein) 15 Maiden Lane, 1936.
(With Lou Breslow) 36 Hours to Kill, 1936.
(With others) Charlie Chan at the Racetrack, 1936.
(With Katherine Kavanaugh and Edward T. Lowe) Educating Father, 1936.
(With Lou Breslow and Edward Eliscu) High Tension, 1936.
(With Lou Breslow) The Holy Terror, 1937.
(With Lou Breslow, Helen Logan, and Robert Ellis) Big Town Girl, 1937.
(With Lou Breslow) Dangerously Yours, 1937.
(With Lou Breslow) Look Out, Mr. Moto, 1937.
(With Robert Ellis and Helen Logan) Born Reckless, 1937.
(with Lou Breslow and Ben Markson) Sing and Be Happy, 1937.
(With Lou Breslow, Robin Harris, and Alfred Golden), One Mile from Heaven (adapted from the short story by Judge Ben Lindsey, "Little Colored White Cloud"), 1937.
(With Lou Breslow) Midnight Taxi (adapted from the short story by Borden Chase), 1937.
(With Lou Breslow) Time Out for Romance, 1937.
(With Lou Breslow) International Settlement, 1938.
(With Lou Breslow) Mr. Moto Takes a Chance, 1938.
(With Lou Breslow and Maurine Watkins) Up the River, 1938.
(With Lou Breslow) Five of a Kind, 1938.
(With Lou Breslow and Norman Houston) Battle of Broadway, 1938.
Enchantment (adapted from the novel A Fugue in Time by Rumer Godden), RKO, 1948.
The President's Lady (adapted from the novel by Irving Stone), 1953.
Three Coins in the Fountain (adapted from the novel by John Secondari), 1954.
Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (adapted from the novel by Han Suyin), 1955.
High Society (adapted from the play The Philadelphia Story by Philip Barry), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), 1956.
The Teahouse of the August Moon (adapted from the novel by Verne J. Sneider and the play by Patrick), MGM, 1956.
(With Tom Hubbard) Daniel Boone, Trail Blazer, Republic, 1957.
Les Girls (adapted from the novel by Vera Caspary), MGM, 1957.
(With Arthur Sheekman) Some Came Running (adapted from the novel by James Jones), MGM, 1958.
The World of Suzie Wong (adapted from the play by Paul Osborne based on the novel by Richard Mason), Paramount, 1960.
Parrish (adapted from the novel by Mildred Savage), Warner Bros., 1961.
Gigot (adapted from the story by Jackie Gleason), Seven Arts (Fox), 1962.
(With Marguerite Roberts) The Main Attraction, Seven Arts (MGM), 1963.
(With James Kennaway) The Shoes of the Fisherman (adapted from the novel by Morris L. West), MGM, 1968.
Also author (with Arthur Dales) of the teleplay The Small Miracle (adapted from the children's story by Paul Gallico) for "Hallmark Hall of Fame," NBC-TV, 1973. Author of more than eleven hundred radio plays for the series Cecil and Sally (produced 1929-1933). Scriptwriter for Helen Hayes's programs.
Sense and Nonsense (poems), Samuel French (London, England), 1989.
Contributor to The Best Short Stories, 1915-1917, compiled by Edward J. O'Brien. Also created the covers for the Growling Light by Martha Conley, St. Martin's Press, 1993; and Inches by William Marshall, Warner/Mysterious Press, 1994. John Patrick's manuscript collection is held at Boston University.
SIDELIGHTS: John Patrick's career as a playwright took off slowly, but gained momentum as he continued to write. Hell Freezes Over, Patrick's first effort as a playwright, highlights an airship crash in Antarctica. The author's first play showed his inexperience at playwriting, for it was quickly a box-office disappointment. His second play, The Willow and I, takes place in 1900. Two sisters, opposite in appearance and temperament, fall in love with the same man. When he chooses the kinder, gentler sister for marriage, the other sister intends to shoot herself and take her own life. The placid sister discovers her and tries to wrestle the gun away, but is scared when the gun fires in the tousle. She runs away and lives as a recluse for forty years, her mind locked on the horrible events that occurred on the day she was supposed to be married. In the Dictionary of Literary Biography, John Marion wrote, "The strange, haunting story is unique among Patrick's plays, and reveals depth not usually found in his work. Certainly it reflects his mastery of mood and atmosphere and prevents challenging roles." Despite some favorable critical opinion, The Willow and I, like Hell Freezes Over, never became popular, and so Patrick would wait for his success.
After a stint with the American Field Service following World War II, Patrick wrote The Hasty Heart, a play based in part on his experiences during World War II. He composed the play on a return voyage from North Africa to Virginia, writing on any scrap of paper he could obtain. He then entrusted a pilot friend with the disjointed manuscript, sneaking it off the ship to avoid military censorship of his work. The Hasty Heart's protagonist is Lachlen McLachlen, a terminally ill Scottish sergeant who has been sent to a British military hospital to convalesce. While at the hospital, Lachlen is wary of the other patients, but slowly warms to their attempts at friendship. When he discovers, however, that the patients know he will soon die, Lachlen interprets their friendship as pity and feels humiliated. When Lachlen divulges his sentiments to them, the patients become angry, and Lachlen learns to trust and value companionship. The Hasty Heart was Patrick's first successful play, faring well both at the box office and in popular critical opinion. Christian M. Moe wrote in the Cyclopedia of World Authors that the play demonstrates "Patrick's premise that human interdependency is crucially important."
The comedic The Curious Savage, Patrick's next play, involves the elderly Mrs. Ethel P. Savage, whose step-children have committed her to a mental asylum to give them access to her wealth. At the play's end, Ethel, with the help of her fellow patients, enacts revenge on the greedy children. Though the play experienced only a short run on Broadway, it earned Patrick international renown, as well as a loyal community theater following.
By far the most popular of Patrick's works is The Teahouse of the August Moon, an adaptation of the novel by Verne J. Sneider. The Teahouse takes place on the small island Okinawa, which was occupied by American soldiers after World War II. Based on historical events, but with a fictionalized plot, the play satirizes the American military as soldiers bumble about in an effort to democratize the Asian natives. Captain Fishby is a young soldier who has been assigned to this particular mission, called "Plan B." Fishby begins to teach the Okinawan people the concepts of democracy, encouraging them to make choices for themselves, as Americans do. He has an interpreter, Sakini, to help him communicate with the island natives. The military's initial plan is to build a schoolhouse for the people of Okinawa, but as the villagers learn more about democracy, they decide that they don't want a schoolhouse, but a teahouse instead. After a vote, the teahouse prevails, and Captain Fishby relents, using the military-issued schoolhouse supplies to build a teahouse. The establishment centers on the beautiful Lotus Blossom, a geisha whom Fishby first mistakes for a prostitute. When the cultural misconception is corrected, and Fishby no longer disdains her, Lotus Blossom teaches him about the native culture. As the teahouse is built, Fishby becomes culturally assimilated, until he finds himself wearing sandals, eating local foods, participating in tea ceremonies, and walking around in his bathrobe, his crude version of the kimono.
Upon his arrival on the island, Fishby had also been instructed to help the villagers establish a local enterprise in which to sell their local goods. After they fail at marketing crafts, Fishby is introduced to an old sweet-potato brandy recipe. He decides that this is their ticket to enterprise and creates a distillery, which profits very well. Fishby seems to have fulfilled the requirements of "Plan B" until his superior officer, Colonel Purdy, arrives at the teahouse unexpectedly and sees Fishby in his bathrobe. Fishby is reprimanded and Purdy orders that the teahouse and distillery be destroyed. The villagers only pretend to destroy the structures, which ultimately profits Purdy when the village is named one of the most successful American democratization efforts of the military.
The international popularity of The Teahouse was largely due to the comic nature of the play, and foreigners' delight upon seeing Americans make fun of their own culture. Its other cultural implications, however, have become dated since the play was written, and many critics question the appropriateness of producing it in more recent years. "Although extremely popular in the 1950s, this play became outdated by the 1970s when increased awareness of racial issues led the audience to recognize the stereotypes of Asian people in the play," wrote one Drama for Students contributor. Another Drama for Students contributor, David Kelly, wrote, "It is almost impossible for modern readers to view Teahouse of the August Moon without being uncomfortably aware that it promotes attitudes toward race, gender, and chemical abuse that we find inappropriate today." The play won many awards for Patrick in 1956, including a Pulitzer Prize in Drama and a Tony award.
In 1961, Patrick introduced audiences to Opal, a character who would appear several times in his plays, in Everybody Loves Opal. Opal Kronkie is a middle-aged woman who lives by herself in an aging mansion near a dump. Opal goes to the dump to collect little bits of junk that amuse her. When three criminals on the run come to her door in search of a place to hide, Opal opens her home to them, setting herself up for a string of comic attempts to take the woman's life and collect her insurance money. The criminals, Gloria, Bradford, and Soloman, try to make the ceiling fall on her head, but Opal happens to be in the basement. Then they try to set her house on fire, but Opal's policeman friend shows up to chat. After several other attempts, the trio gives up, unaware that Opal had plenty of money stashed all over the house, which she would have given to them had they only asked. Opal returns in Opal Is a Diamond, first produced in 1972, when Opal takes on a shady politician in his run for mayor. Opal has many supporters, and she manages to win over enough of the voting population to make her campaign a threat. Opal again becomes an unknowing victim, and laughs are plentiful as Opal inadvertently survives a dangerous situation once again.
In Opal's Baby, Opal is searching for treasures in the dump when she meets a man who is looking for a tire. The man, Norman, assumes that Opal is wealthy and claims to be a long-lost relative. He encourages his daughter-in-law, Verna, to shove a pillow under her shirt and pretend she is pregnant. The delighted Opal decides to leave all of her money to the new baby, leaving Norman and Verna with a complicated scheme to pull off. In 1975, Opal gets married in Opal's Husband, but she does not marry for love. Opal answers a personal ad in search of a husband for her friend Rosie, but when the man turns out to be a ninety-five-year-old nursing home escapee, Rosie is displeased. The man's daughter tries to send him back, where she wants him to live his final days quietly until death allows her to collect his inheritance, so Opal saves the man by marrying him. In Opal's Million Dollar Duck, the fifth and final Opal play, two actresses visit Opal's junk shop. When they see a painting depicting a dead mallard and an apple, the actresses, Desmond and Queenie, recall that a valuable painting recently went missing from a local art museum, and a sizeable award is offered for its return. Thinking that Opal's painting is the missing masterpiece, they try to persuade Opal to sell it to them, but Opal intends to give Rosie the painting for her birthday. When Rosie rejects the painting because it reminds her of her dead pet duck, Opal gives the painting to the actresses, who ecstatically run away before Opal can change her mind. They do not know, however, that the painting has already been returned to the museum, and that Opal's copy is worthless. Patrick offered many comic delights with Opal and other characters, having found his niche in playwriting—to enchant audiences into laughter.
Patrick was also a highly successful screenwriter and, later in life, a poet. Although he lived for many years in the Virgin Islands, he died in 1995 in Florida, apparently a suicide. His final poem, "A Suicide Note," was found with his body: "I won't dispute my right to die; I'll only give the reasons why; You reach a certain point in time When life has lost reason and rhyme."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Banham, Martin, editor, The Cambridge Guide to World Theatre, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1988.
Benet, William Rose, The Reader's Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, Thomas Y. Crowell (New York, NY), 1965.
Berney, K.A., editor, Contemporary American Dramatists, St. James Press (London, England), 1994.
Berney, K.A., editor, Contemporary Dramatists, 5th edition, St. James Press (London, England), 1993.
Bradbury, Malcolm, and others, editors, The Penguin Companion to World Literature. American Literature, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1971.
Burke, W. J. and Will D. Howe, American Authors and Books, 1640 to the present day, 3rd revised edition, revised by Irving Weiss and Anne Weiss, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 1972.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 7: Twentieth-Century American Dramatists, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1981.
Drama for Students, Volume 13, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Haliwell, Leslie, Halliwell's Filmgoer's Companion, 9th edition, Scribner (New York, NY), 1988.
Hart, James D., The Oxford Companion to American Literature, 6th edition, Oxford Univesity Press (New York, NY), 1995.
Herzbeg, Max J., The Reader's Encyclopedia of American Literature, Thomas Y. Crowell (New York, NY), 1962.
Katz, Ephraim, The Film Encyclopedia, Thomas Y. Crowell (New York, NY), 1979.
Lane, Hana Umlauf, editor, The World Almanac Book of Who, World Almanac Publishers (New York, NY), 1980.
Legends in Their Own Time, Prentice Hall General Reference (New York, NY), 1994.
Magill, Frank N., Critical Survey of Drama, revised edition, seven volumes, Salem Press (Pasadena, CA), 1994.
Magill, Frank N., editor, Cyclopedia of World Authors, revised 3rd edition, five volumes, Salem Press (Pasadena, CA), 1997.
Perkins, George, and others, editors, Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia of American Literature, 1st edition, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991.
Room, Adrian, Dictionary of Pseudonyms, 3rd edition, McFarland (Jefferson, NC), 1998.
Stephens, Michael L., Gangster Films, McFarland (Jefferson, NC), 1996.
Guide to World Drama Web site, http://www.4-wall.com/ (January 29, 2004), "John Patrick."
Homeville: Bibliographic Resources Web site, http://users.ev1.net/~homeville/ (January 29, 2004), "Index of Short Stories from Edward J. O'Brien's The Best Short Stories, 1915-1917."
Locus Magazine Web site, http://www.locusmag.com/ (January 29, 2004), "Locus Index to Science Fiction: Cover Artists."
Microsoft Network Entertainment Web site, http://entertainment.msn.com/ (January 29, 2004), "Celebrity Information: John Patrick."
Movies.com, http://movies.go.com/ (March 3, 2004), "John Patrick."
Play Database, http://www.playdatabase.com/ (March 3, 2004), summaries of John Patrick's plays.
Chicago Tribune, November 10, 1995, section 3, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times, November 11, 1995, p. A34.
New York Times, November 9, 1995, p. B17.
Washington Post, November 10, 1995, p. D7.*