Born: July 14, 1915
Died: February 29, 2004
Ohio connection: Resident
Jerome K. Lawrence, son of Samuel and Sarah (Rogen) Lawrence, was born in 1915 in Cleveland, Ohio. He received a B.A. degree from Ohio State University in 1937, and did graduate study at the University of California, Los Angeles, 1939-40. He had a long and varied career, including work as a newspaper writer and editor; radio and television writer, producer and director; playwright and director; and university professor. Lawrence is most famous for his collaboration on numerous plays with Robert E. Lee, with whom he founded Lawrence & Lee, Inc. Some of the plays Lawrence and Lee produced were Inside a Kid`s Head; Inherit the Wind; Shangri-La (musical); Auntie Mame; Mame (musical version of Auntie Mame); Only in America; Dear World (musical); The Incomparable Max!; The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail; Jabberwock; and First Monday in October. In an interview for Studies in American Drama, 1945 – Present, Lawrence described the plays he wrote with Robert E. Lee as follows: “Almost if not all of our plays share the theme of the dignity of every individual mind, and that mind’s life-long battle against limitation and censorship.” Lawrence was the writer and director of a number of radio programs, including Hollywood Showcase, I Was There, and They Live Forever. He was also writer, director, and producer, with Lee, of many radio and television shows, including Request Performance, Orson Welles Theatre, Frank Sinatra Show, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Halls of Ivy, and Times Square Playhouse. Lawrence, on his own, was the author of four books: Actor: The Life and Times of Paul Muni; A Golden Circle; Off Mike: Radio Writing by the Nation`s Top Radio Writers (editor and contributor); and Oscar the Ostrich: A Children`s Book for Adults.
Jerome Lawrence died of complications from a stroke on February 29, 2004, in Malibu, California.
New York Press Club award, 1942; City College of New York award, 1948; Radio-TV Life award, 1948, 1952; George Foster Peabody awards, 1949, for United Nations Radio series, and 1952 (with others), for Halls of Ivy; Radio-TV Mirror awards, 1952, 1953; Variety Showmanship award, 1954; Variety New York Drama Critics Poll award for most promising new playwright, Outer Circle Critics award, and Donaldson Award for best new play, all 1955, all for Inherit the Wind; Ohioana Award, 1955; Ohio Press Club Award, 1959; London Critics Poll award for best foreign play of the year and British Drama Critics award for best foreign play, both 1960, both for Inherit the Wind; named playwright of the year, Baldwin-Wallace College, 1960; D.H.L., Ohio State University, 1963; Antoinette Perry Award Nomination for book of a musical, 1966, for Mame. Moss Hart Memorial Award, 1967, for Inherit the Wind; selected “Man of the Year,” Zeta Beta Tau, 1967; D.Litt., Fairleigh Dickinson University, 1968; U.S. State Department medal, 1968; D.F.A., Villanova University, 1969; Pegasus Award, 1970; Centennial Award medal, Ohio State University, 1970; Ohio governor’s award, 1972; American Theatre Association Lifetime Achievement Award, 1979; National Thespian Association Directors Award, 1980; Pioneer Broadcaster award, 1981; Rocky Mountain Writers Guild Master of Arts award, 1982; William Inge award and lectureship, Independence Community College, 1983, 1986-91; D.Litt., College of Wooster, 1983; Writers Guild of America Valentine Davies Award (with Robert E. Lee), 1984, for “contributions to the entertainment industry and the community-at-large which have brought dignity and honor to writers everywhere”; Distinguished Contribution award, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, 1985; career award, Southeastern Theatre Conference, 1990; named to Theatre Hall of Fame, 1990; elected to College of Fellows of American Theatre at Kennedy Center, 1990; National Theatre Conference, honorary member, 1993.