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Lillian  Hellman

Lillian Hellman in the 1970s Blackglama Fur celebrity ad campaign              short profile


other works

books about Lillian Hellman

movies, plays, other media

image gallery

family & friends


             Lillian Hellman photograph, circa 1930s

"No one can argue any longer about the rights of women. It's like arguing about earthquakes."

"Since when do you have to agree with people to defend them from injustice?"

"Failure in the theater is more dramatic and uglier than any other form of writing. It costs so much, you feel so guilty."

"Belief is a moral act for which the believer is to be held responsible."

"Things start out as hopes and end up as habits."

"The past, with its pleasures, its rewards, its foolishness, its punishments, is there for each of us forever, and it should be."

"Success isn’t everything but it makes a man stand straight."

"People change and forget to tell each other."

"It is best to act with confidence, no matter how little right you have to it."

"I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashion." — in testimony to HUAC in 1952

— Lillian Hellman

        Lillian Florence Hellman was born 20 June 1905 in New Orleans, Louisiana. After college and work in the New York publishing industry, she married editor & writer Arthur Kober in 1925; they traveled, she wrote for the Herald Tribune, and both had work published. Paramount Studios hired Arthur in 1929, and they moved to Hollywood. By the time Lillian met mystery author Dashiell Hammett, she was unhappy in her marriage, and she and Arthur were divorced in 1932.
        Lillian was working as a scenario reader at M.G.M. Studios when she met Dashiell Hammett at a party at Darryl Zanuck's house in November of 1930; they left the party together and remained companions until Dash's death in 1961.

        Lillian's career as a playwright took off after the successful Broadway opening of "The Children's Hour" in November 1934. "The Little Foxes" (1939), "Watch On The Rhine" (1941), "The Searching Wind" (1944), "Another Part of The Forest" (a 1946 'prequel' to "Little Foxes"), and "The Autumn Garden" (1951) brought her fame and fortune. But like Hammett, she was forced to appear before H.U.A.C. (in 1952), which was followed by a $174,000 tax bill and vilification in the press.

        Yet her success continued, with a 1952 Broadway revival of "The Children's Hour", "The Lark" (1954), the musical "Candide" [1956], and "Toys In The Attic" (1960). Though her later relationship with Hammett was rocky, she took care of him in the months before his death from cancer in January 1961. Lillian's years afterward were spent in Martha's Vineyard, working on her three volumes of autobiography: "An Unfinished Woman" [1969], "Pentimento" [1973], and "Scoundrel Time" [1978].

        During an interview on the Dick Cavett TV show in 1979, novelist Mary McCarthy [1912-89] famously commented that "Every word that [Hellman] writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'." Lillian filed a $2.5M libel suit and many New York literati chose sides; various portions of her memoirs were revealed to be untrue; Lillian died before the matter was tried in court, and the estate dropped the suit.

        Lillian Hellman died of a heart attack at age 79 at Martha's Vineyard on 30 June 1984.

Lillian Hellman entry at Wikipedia
Lillian Hellman's credits [since 1935] on Internet Movie Database
Lillian Hellman's credits on Internet Broadway Database
browse Lillian Hellman Store {returns 50+ titles} at Amazon
search for books on keywords 'Lillian Hellman' {returns 400+ titles} at Amazon

S t a g e p l a y s
Lillian Hellman's credits on Internet Broadway Database
browse Lillian Hellman Store {returns 50+ titles} at Amazon

Four Plays by Lillian Hellman book  
"Four Plays by Lillian Hellman - Complete & Unabridged" [1942]
includes "The Children's Hour" [1934], "Days To Come" [1936],
"The Little Foxes" [1939], and "Watch On The Rhine" [1941]

Modern Library 7x4½ hardcover [1/1942] out of print/used
Six Plays by Lillian Hellman 1960 book  Six Plays by Lillian Hellman 1979 book  "Six Plays by Lillian Hellman - Complete & Unabridged" [1960]
includes "The Children's Hour" [1934], "Days To Come" [1936],
"The Little Foxes" [1939], "Watch On The Rhine" [1941], "Another
Part of The Forest" [1946], and "The Autumn Garden" [1951]

Vintage 8x5 pb [10/79] for $11.23
Collected Plays of Lillian Hellman book  "The Collected Plays of Lillian Hellman" [1964]
The same six important Hellman stageplays, 1934-51 as just above, plus
six later/lesser plays: "The Searching Wind" [1944], "Montserrat" [1949],
"The Lark" [1955], "Candide" [1957 operetta], "Toys In The Attic" [1960],
and "My Mother, My Father, and Me" [1963]

Little, Brown 9½x5½ hardcover [4/72] out of print/used
Little, Brown 8¼x6 hardcover [1971] out of print/used
Little, Brown 8¼x5¾ hardcover [1971] out of print/40+ used
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"The Children’s Hour" [1934 stageplay]
Lillian's first play was considered shocking at the time, and concerns the devastating effects
of a child's malicious charge of lesbianism against two of her teachers.

stageplay entry at Wikipedia
Broadway stageplay, 11/1934-7/1936
Broadway revival, 12/1952-5/1953 starring Kim Hunter & Patricia Neal

"These Three" feature film [Goldwyn/U.A. March 1936] /tt0028356/
altered story has the student accusing the two teachers of an illicit affair with a male doctor
directed by William Wyler; starring Miriam Hopkins, Merle Oberon, Joel McCrea & Bonita Granville

"The Children’s Hour" feature film [Mirisch/U/A. Dec 1961] /tt0054743/
directed by William Wyler; starring Audrey Hepburn & Shirley MacLaine

announced 11/2010: Hellman's "The Children’s Hour" stageplay will be adapted for television
by Graham King’s GK-TV and Samuel Goldwyn Films

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"Days To Come" [1936 stageplay]
Concerns the tragic consequences of strike-breaking in a small Midwestern community.

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"The Little Foxes" [1939 stageplay]
The first of two plays that constitute a chilling study of the financial and psychological conflicts within the Hubbards, a wealthy and rapacious Southern family.
stageplay entry at Wikipedia
Broadway stageplay, 2/1939-2/1940 starring Tallulah Bankhead
opera "Regina" on Broadway, 1949
Broadway revival, 10/1967-1/1968 starring Anne Bancroft
Broadway revival, 1981 starring Elizabeth Taylor
Broadway revival, 1997 starring Stockard Channing

Lillian Hellman's Little Foxes  "The Little Foxes" feature film [Samuel Goldwyn/R.K.O. Radio Pictures Aug 1941]
A ruthless matriarch in the American South of the late 1800s needs her estranged husband to agree to a shady business deal. Manipulation of their naive daughter brings the father home from Chicago, but he refuses to agree to the deal with her two brothers. She hatches a cunning plan that soon gets out of hand . . . • Directed by William Wyler; screenplay by Lillian Hellman, from her play; starring Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, Teresa Wright, Richard Carlson, Dan Duryea, Patricia Collinge, Charles Dingle, Carl Benton Reid, Jessica Grayson, John Marriott & Russell Hicks; Oscar noms for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress (Davis), Best Supporting Actress (TW & PC), Best Music Score, Best Editing, Best Art Direction
M.G.M. b&w DVD [9/2001] for $12.49
H.B.O. Home Video b&w DVD [7/98] out of prodn/used
H.B.O. Home Video b&w VHS [9/97] out of prodn/used
full credits from IMDb

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"Watch On The Rhine" [1941 stageplay]
The story of how fascism affects an American family and the refugees that they harbor; won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.

    Watch on The Rhine 1943 movie   "Watch On The Rhine" feature film [Warner Bros. Aug 1943]
A family flees to America from war-torn Europe; the German-born husband's involvment in the anti-Nazi underground is found out, and blackmail leads to murder • Directed by Herman Shumlin; script by Dashiell Hammett from the Broadway stageplay by Lillian Hellman; starring Bette Davis & Paul Lukas; won Oscar for Best Actor, nominations for Best Picture, Best Script, Best Supporting Actress
Warner Video b&w VHS [3/2000] for $22.99
Region 1 DVD available only on the "Betty Davis Collection, Volume 3" 6-disk set [2012]
Warner Home Video b&w/color DVD [11/2012] out of prodn/used
full credits from IMDbmovie entry at Wikipedia

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"The Searching Wind" [1944 stageplay]

"Another Part of The Forest: Play in Three Acts" [1946 stageplay]
The second of two plays that constitute a chilling study of the financial and psychological conflicts within the Hubbards, a wealthy and rapacious Southern family.

"Montserrat" [1949 stageplay]

"The Autumn Garden" [1951 stageplay]
Poignant yet humorous drama set at a summer resort near New Orleans.

"The Lark" [1955 stageplay]
Lillian made an English-language adaption of Jean Anouilh's 1952 play, "L'Alouette", based on the trial of Joan of Arc; Leonard Bernstein
composed incidental music for the first production, which opened on Broadway in November 1955.

"Candide" (operetta) [1957 stageplay]

"Toys In The Attic" [1960 stageplay]

"My Mother, My Father, and Me" [1963 stageplay]

Other Works

"The Dark Angel" [1935 screenplay]

"These Three" [1936 screenplay]

"Dead End" [1937] adapted from the Sidney Kingsley stageplay

"The Little Foxes" [1941 screenplay] adapted from her stageplay {see above}

"The North Star" [1943 screenplay]

"The Searching Wind" [1946 screenplay]

The Chase movie starring Marlon Brando & Robert Redford  "The Chase" [Columbia Pictures Feb 1966]
When violence-prone 'Bubber' Reeves escapes from prison, fear pervades his home town in Texas: the son of the local oil baron is sleeping with Reeves's wife, for one thing; Sheriff Calder plans to capture Reeves alive which places him between the oil baron and the festering citizen mob. • Produced by Sam Spiegel; directed by Arthur Penn; adaptation by Lillian Hellman from the 1952 Broadway stageplay of Horton Foote; starring Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, E.G. Marshall, Angie Dickinson, Janice Rule, Miriam Hopkins, Martha Hyer, Richard Bradford, Robert Duvall, James Fox, Diana Hyland, Henry Hull, Jocelyn Brando, Katherine Walsh, Malcolm Atterbury & Bruce Cabot
Sony Home Ent. widescreen color DVD [2/2004] for $14.99
Goodtimes Home Video color VHS [undated] for $7.43
full credits at IMDbmovie entry at Wikipedia

"The Selected Letters of Anton Chekhov" [1955]
a collection of Chekhov's correspondence edited by Lillian Hellman

Big Knockover stories by Dashiell Hammett  "The Big Knockover" [1963] by Dashiell Hammett [1894-1961]
includes Introduction by Lillian Hellman and ten stories: "The Gutting of Couffignal" (1925), "Fly Paper" (1929), "The Scorched Face" (1925), "This King Business" (1928), "The Gatewood Caper" (1923), "Dead Yellow Women" (1925), "Corkscrew" (1925), "Tulip" (1966), "The Big Knockover" (1927), and "$106,000 Blood Money" (1927)
Vintage 8x5 pb [12/94] for $10.40
Vintage pb [10/72] out of print/used

"An Unfinished Woman: A Memoir" [1969]

"Pentimento: A Book of Portraits" [1973 memoir]

Scoundrel Time / Lillian Hellman  "Scoundrel Time" [1976 memoir] by Lillian Hellman
Focusing on events when she was on H.U.A.C.'s Hollywood Blacklist in the 1940s & 1950s
Back Bay Books 8¼x5½ pb [7/2000] for $9.71
Bantam pb [4/83] out of print/used
Little, Brown hardcover [4/76] out of print/scads of used

"Maybe: A Story" [1980 novel]

Three by Lillian Hellman book  "Three by Lillian Hellman" [1979]
her three memoirs republished in a single volume, Introduction by Richard Poirier
Little, Brown & Co. 9x5½ pb [8/80] out of print/many used
Little, Brown & Co. 9½x6 hardcover [5/79] out of print/many used
Little, Brown & Co. 9½x5½ hardcover [5/79] out of print/used

"Eating Together: Recipes and Recollections" memoir with recipes [1984] with Peter Feibleman

Stageplays,  Movies,  Other  Media

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"Cakewalk" [1993 play] by Peter Feibleman
depicts his tumultuous relationship with Lillian, based on "Lilly", his 1988 memoir of their relationship

Cakewalk Broadway legend Elaine Stritch stars as literary legend Lillian Hellman in this beguiling account of Hellman's tumultuous relationship across several decades with a man 25 years her junior, played by Oscar-nominee Bruce Davison. Featuring music by Carly Simon. https://www.amazon.com/Cakewalk/dp/B0036UZC6S/ ©2009 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2009 L.A. Theatre Works

http://www.arenastage.org/hellman-festival/ ARENA STAGE AT THE MEAD CENTER FOR AMERICAN THEATER

Dash & Lilly A&E TV movie  "Dash and Lilly" [A&E TV movie May 1999]
Directed by Kathy Bates; script by Jerry Ludwig; starring Sam Shephard,
Judy Davis, Bebe Neuwirth, Laurence Luckinbill & David Paymer
A&E Home Video color DVD [12/2004] for $29.98
A&E Ent. color VHS [6/99] out of prodn/used
full credits from IMDbofficial A&E webpages

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Spoken Word: American Writers from The British Library  "The Spoken Word: American Writers" [2008] compiled by Richard Fairman
The British Library audio CD set [10/2008] 3 disks for $23.97
interviewees include James Baldwin, Pearl Buck, Raymond Chandler (interviewed by Ian Fleming), Ralph Ellison, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lillian Hellman, Sinclair Lewis, Arthur Miller, Eugene O'Neill (reading from "Long Day's Journey Into Night"), Gertrude Stein, John Steinbeck [1902-68] (on "The Grapes of Wrath"), and Tennessee Williams

Books  About  Lillian  Hellman
search for books on keywords 'Lillian Hellman' {returns 400+ titles} at Amazon.com

Lillian Hellman In Hollywood book by Bernard F. Dick  "Hellman In Hollywood" [1982]
by Bernard F. Dick

Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press 8¾x6 hardcover [12/82] out of print/used
Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press 8¾x6 hardcover [12/82] out of print/used
Lillian Hellman bio by William Wright  "Lillian Hellman: The Image, The Woman" [1986]
by William Wright

Ballantine Books mass pb [3/88] out of print/used
S&S 9x6 pb [4/2000] for $23.95
S&S hardcover [11/86] out of print/many used
Cold War Romance of Hellman & Melby book by Robert P. Newman  "The Cold War Romance of Lillian Hellman and John Melby" [1989]
by Robert P. Newman

Lillian met U.S. State Department Asia expert John F. Melby in 1944; their passionate affair included avid letter writing, talk of marriage, and trysts at the home of Ambassador Averill Harriman; after Lillian testified in the H.U.A.C. hearings in May 1952, Melby was pressured to repudiate her publicly; he refused, and was fired in 1953 by John Foster Dulles. Melby switched to an academic career and the affair with Hellman continued until her death in 1984.
Univ North Carolina Press 9x5¾ pb [1/2011] for $47.48 {sic}
Univ North Carolina Press pb [4/2009] out of print/used
Univ North Carolina Press 8¼x5½ hardcover [4/89] for $18.95
Passion of Hellman & Hammett book by Joan Mellen  
"Hellman and Hammett: The Legendary Passion of Lillian Hellman & Dashiell Hammett" [1996] by Joan Mellen
HarperCollins 8¼x5½ pb [8/97] out of print/used
Lillian & Dash dual biography by Sam Toperoff  "Lillian & Dash" [2013] by Sam Toperoff
Dual biography covering their thirty years together as life partners, in the form of a novel
Kindle Edition from Other Press [7/2013] for $9.99
Other Press 8¼x5½ pb [7/2013] for $12.19
Lillian Hellman Imperious Life biography by Dorothy Gallagher  "Lillian Hellman: An Imperious Life" biography [2014]
by Dorothy Gallagher

Kindle Edition from Yale Univ Press [1/2014] for $14.75
Yale Univ Press 8½x6 hardcover [1/2014] for $19.27
Yale Univ Press 8½x6 hardcover [1/2014] out of print/used
'Sinner-Saints' short fiction in Kindle format by Kristine Kathryn Rusch  "Sinner-Saints" for Kindle [2014] by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Alternate-world short story about 'former Senator Lillian Hellman' dealing with a political crisis
Kindle Edition from W.M.G. Publng [4/2014] for $2.99

Image  Gallery


Family & Friends
Lillian Florence Hellman was born in June 1905 in New Orleans, Louisiana; she wrote screenplays in Hollywood before finding success with stageplays on Broadway from 1934; she met mystery author Dashiell Hammett in 1931 and they were companions until his death in 1961; Lillian died in June 1984 at aged 79 near her home on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

husband Arthur Kober [1900-75] married 1925-1932
his New Yorker Magazine stories were later collected in the anthologies "Thunder Over The Bronx" [1935], "Pardon Me For Pointing" [1939],
"My Dear Bella" [1941], "Parm Me" [1945], and "Bella, Bella Kissed A Fella" [1951]

life-partner Samuel Dashiell Hammett [1894-1961] from 1930 to 1961

lover John F. Melby [1913-92] - met in 1944, together until 1984

lover Peter S. Feibleman [1920-2013]
self-described as Lillian's 'lover, caretaker, writing partner, and principal heir'
official websiteIMDb listingWikipedia

L i n k s
Lillian Hellman entry at Wikipedia
browse Lillian Hellman Store {returns 50+ titles} at Amazon
search for books on keywords 'Lillian Hellman' {returns 400+ titles} at Amazon
Lillian Hellman's credits [since 1935] on Internet Movie Database
Lillian Hellman's credits on Internet Broadway Database

here on the Lillian Hellman [1905-84] Page at Spirit of America Bookstore

top of pageshort profilestageplaysother worksbooks about Lillian Hellman

movies, plays, other mediaimage galleryfamily & friendslinks

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