Ornitz, Samuel Badisch

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ORNITZ, SAMUEL BADISCH (1890–1957), U.S. author. Born in New York City, Ornitz was a social worker from 1908 to 1920, and was also employed by the New York Prison Association. In 1919 he wrote a one-act play, The Sock, under a pseudonym, but his name became familiar with the success of his novel Haunch, Paunch, and Jowl (1923), one of the best-known works produced by the left-wing "proletarian" literary movement in the United States. Its anti-hero, Meyer Hirsch, is an an East Sider who rises from poverty to become a shady lawyer, crooked politician, and corrupt judge. Ornitz, a professed atheist, saw no virtues in Jewish immigrant life and wished to end Jewish isolation by a policy of outright assimilation. He defied Jewish opinion with his violently hostile portrayals of Jewish types, notably the money-chasing "allrightniks" detested by contemporary leftists and antisemites. Ornitz also depicted the Jewish immigrant generation of the 1880–1914 era in other novels. His books include Round the World with Jocko the Great (1925), A Yankee Passional (1927), and Bride of the Sabbath (1951). In later life Ornitz went to Hollywood, where he wrote scripts for motion pictures.


S. Liptzin, The Jew in American Literature (1966), 131–3.

[Milton Henry Hindus]