b. 20 October 1895, New York City, New York, USA, d. 24 August 1985, Washington, DC, USA. Combining anarchic views on comedy and irreverent political satire, Ryskind wrote librettos for some of the most successful Broadway shows of the 30s and also some notable Hollywood screenplays. On Broadway, he frequently collaborated with George S. Kaufman, including the Marx Brothers’ Animal Crackers (1928). In Hollywood, Ryskind adapted three Marx Brothers’ stage shows for films, The Cocoanuts (1929), Animal Crackers (1930), A Night At The Opera (1935), and Room Service (1938). Meanwhile, on Broadway, Ryskind and Kaufman wrote Strike Up The Band (1930), with a score by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, a tough-talking political satire. The following year they presented the outspoken Of Thee I Sing, which became the first play to be awarded a Pulitzer prize, and in 1933 the rather less successful Let ’Em Eat Cake. Ryskind also targeted politicians in Louisiana Purchase (1940) and was director of The Lady Comes Across (1942), which was a box-office failure. He had continued to work in Hollywood and wrote screenplays for My Man Godfrey (1936) and Stage Door (1937), both of which were nominated for Oscars, as well as Man About Town (1939), Penny Serenade (1941) and Where Do We Go From Here? (1945). His career suffered a severe jolt in 1947 when he was blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee. In later years, Ryskind’s political views took a 180-degree turn and his newly-discovered right wing extremism led to his becoming the first editor of The National Review.
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