James Weidman

b. 4 April 1913, New York City, New York, USA, d. 6 October 1998, New York City, New York, USA. Starting in 1930, some of Weideman’s short stories were published, leading to the publication in 1937…
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Artist Biography

b. 4 April 1913, New York City, New York, USA, d. 6 October 1998, New York City, New York, USA. Starting in 1930, some of Weideman’s short stories were published, leading to the publication in 1937 of his novel, I Can Get It For You Wholesale. This depicted life among Jewish immigrants in New York City in the early twentieth century, and became a bestseller. Weidman’s 22 novels and collections of short stories include a sequel to his debut novel, What’s In It For Me?, The Enemy Camp, The Sound Of Bow Bells, Fourth Street East, Before You Go (a novel about World War II), and I’ll Never Go There Any More. The latter was filmed in 1949 as House Of Strangers and in 1954 as a western, Broken Lance, both with screenplays by Philip Yordan. Weidman also wrote screenplays including The Damned Don’t Cry (1950, with Harold Medford), The Eddie Cantor Story (1953, with Ted Sherdeman and Sidney Skolsky), and Slander (1956).

In the theatre, Weidman collaborated with George Abbott on the book for Fiorello! (1959) for which they won a New York Drama Critics Circle award and a Pulitzer Prize, while the show tied for a Tony Award as Best Musical. Weidman collaborated again with Abbott on Tenderloin (1960), which was based upon a Samuel Hopkins Adams novel. The show was a box-office disappointment, but Weidman’s next libretto, on which he worked alone, was vastly better. This was an adaptation of his novel I Can Get It For You Wholesale (1962), which starred Elliott Gould and Barbra Streisand, the latter making her Broadway debut. (This same novel was previously the basis for a 1951 Hollywood drama starring Susan Hayward and Dan Dailey.) Seeking inspiration for a new Broadway musical, Weidman next turned to Heinrich Mann’s novel, Professor Unrath, which had become the classic German film The Blue Angel (1930) starring Marlene Dietrich. Unfortunately, just as the 1959 Hollywood remake of The Blue Angel, failed to measure up to its potential, so too did Pousse-Café (1966), for which Weidman wrote the book and Duke Ellington the music, with lyrics by Marshall Barer and Fred Tobias. In 1986, Weidman published a memoir entitled Praying For Rain. One of his two sons, John Weidman, wrote the books for two Stephen Sondheim musicals, Pacific Overtures and Assassins.