Irwin Shaw

Irwin Shaw

Irwin Shaw (February 27 1913 – May 16 1984) was an American playwright, screenwriter and novelist who was also a highly regarded short story author.


Early life

Shaw was born Irwin Gilbert Shamforoff in the South Bronx, New York City, to Russian Jewish immigrants. [] His parents were Rose and Will. His younger brother, David Shaw, became a noted Hollywood producer. David died in 2007. Shortly after Irwin's birth, the Shamforoffs moved to Brooklyn, and Shaw changed his surname upon entering college. He spent most of his youth in Brooklyn, where he graduated from Brooklyn College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1934.


Shaw began screenwriting in 1935 at the age of 21, and scripted for several radio shows, including "Dick Tracy", "The Gumps" and "Studio One". He recaptured this period of his life in his short story "Main Currents of American Life," about a hack radio writer grinding out one script after another while calculating the number of words equal to the rent money::Furniture, and a hundred and thirty-seven dollars. His mother had always wanted a good dining-room table. She didn't have a maid, she said, so he ought to get her a dining room table. How many words for a dining-room table?

In 1936, Shaw's first play, "Bury the Dead", about a group of soldiers killed in a battle who refuse to be buried, was produced. During the 1940s, Shaw wrote for a number of films, including "Talk of the Town" (a comedy about civil liberties), "The Commandos Strike at Dawn" (based on a C.S. Forester story about commandos in occupied Norway) and "Easy Living" (about a football player unable to enter the game due to a medical condition). Shaw married Marian Edwards (daughter of well known screen actor Snitz Edwards.) They had one son, Adam Shaw, born in 1950, himself a writer of magazine articles and non-fiction.


Shaw enlisted in the U.S. Army and was a warrant officer during World War II. "The Young Lions", Shaw's first novel, was published in 1949. Based on his experiences in Europe during the war, the novel was very successful and was adapted into a 1958 film. Although the adaptation was as faithful as could be expected of Hollywood in 1958, Shaw was not happy with it.

Shaw's second novel, "The Troubled Air", chronicling the rise of McCarthyism, was published in 1951. He was among those who signed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the John Howard Lawson and Dalton Trumbo convictions for contempt of Congress, resulting from hearings by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Falsely accused of being a communist by the Red Channels publication, Shaw was placed on the Hollywood blacklist by the movie studio bosses. In 1951 he left the United States and went to Europe, where he lived for 25 years, mostly in Paris and Switzerland. He later claimed that the blacklist "only glancingly bruised" his career. During the 1950s he wrote several more screenplays, including "Desire Under the Elms" (based on Eugene O'Neill's play) and "Fire Down Below" (about a tramp boat in the Caribbean).

While living in Europe, Shaw wrote more bestselling books, notably "Lucy Crown" (1956), "Two Weeks in Another Town" (1960), "Rich Man, Poor Man" (1970) (for which he would later write a less successful sequel entitled "Beggarman, Thief") and "Evening in Byzantium" (made into a 1978 TV movie). "Rich Man, Poor Man" was adapted into a highly successful ABC television miniseries in 1976.

His novel "Top of the Hill", about the Winter Olympics at Lake Placid in 1980, was made into a TV movie, starring Wayne Rogers, Adrienne Barbeau, and Sonny Bono. [cite web|url=|title="Top of the Hill" at IMDB]

His last two novels were "Bread Upon the Waters" (1981) and "Acceptable Losses" (1982). He died on 16 May 1984, after undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.

hort stories

Shaw was highly regarded as a short story author, contributing to Collier's, Esquire, The New Yorker, Playboy, The Saturday Evening Post, and other magazines; and 63 of his best stories were collected in "Short Stories: Five Decades" (Delacorte, 1978), reprinted in 2000 as a 784-page University of Chicago Press paperback. Three of his stories ("The Girls in Their Summer Dresses," "The Monument," "The Man Who Married a French Wife") were dramatized for the PBS series "Great Performances". Telecast on 1 June 1981, this production was released on DVD in 2002 by Kultur Video.


During his lifetime Shaw won a number of awards, including two O. Henry Awards, a National Institute of Arts and Letters grant, and three Playboy Awards. He died in Davos, Switzerland, aged 71.

Listen to

*WiredForBooks|michaelschnayerson|1989 interview with Shaw's biographer, Michael Schnayerson (RealAudio)


External links

* [ Brooklyn College Archives]
* [ LitWeb: Irwin Shaw]
* [ "Paris Review" Interview]
*imdb name|0789758 Retrieved on 2008-02-07

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Irwin Shaw — Nombre completo Irwin Gilbert Shamforoff Nacimiento 27 de febrero de 1913 Bronx (Nueva York) Defunción 16 de mayo de 1984 Davos ( …   Wikipedia Español

  • Irwin Shaw — (* 27. Februar 1913 in New York City; † 16. Mai 1984 in Davos, Schweiz; eigentlich Irwin Gilbert Shamforoff) war ein US amerikanischer Schriftsteller und Drehbuchautor. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 Werke (Auswahl) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Irwin Shaw — (né Irwin Gilbert Shamforoff, 27 février 1913 à Brooklyn 16 mai 1984) est un écrivain, scénariste et producteur américain. Sommaire 1 Biographie 2 Filmographie 2.1 Comme scén …   Wikipédia en Français

  • SHAW, IRWIN — (1913–1984), U.S. novelist, playwright, and scriptwriter. Born in Brooklyn, Shaw gained overnight fame with his one act antiwar drama Bury the Dead (1936), dealing with a group of dead soldiers who refuse to be buried. The Gentle People (1939),… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Irwin — may refer to:Places;United States * Irwin, Idaho * Irwin, Illinois * Irwin, Iowa * Irwin, Ohio * Irwin, Pennsylvania * Irwin, South Carolina * Irwin County, Georgia * Irwin Township, Pennsylvania * Fort Irwin, California;Australia * Shire of… …   Wikipedia

  • Irwin — ist als englische Variante des Vornamens Erwin ein Name. Personen Vorname Irwin Allen (1916 1991), amerikanischer Film und Fernesehproduzent Irwin Goodman (1943 1991), finnischer Musiker Irwin Kostal (1911 1994), amerikanischer Komponist und… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Shaw — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Aaron Shaw (1811–1887), amerikanischer Politiker Aiden Shaw (* 1966), amerikanischer Autor und Pornodarsteller Albert D. Shaw (1841–1901), amerikanischer Politiker Anna Howard Shaw (1847–1919),… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Shaw (name) — Shaw is most commonly a surname and rarely a given name.*Clan Shaw an ancient Scottish clan, part of the Chattan Confederation and formerly a sept of Clan MacKintosh::The Clan Shaw motto is: Fide et fortitude. meaning For fidelity and fortitude.… …   Wikipedia

  • Shaw — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Ce patronyme est très porté dans les pays anglosaxons. C est aussi la transcription d un nom chinois : 邵: Patronyme Æneas Shaw, homme politique… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Shaw — n. family name; George Bernard Shaw (1856 1950), Irish dramatist and critic, author of the play Pygmalion , winner of the Nobel prize; Irwin Shaw (1913 1984), American novelist and playwright …   English contemporary dictionary

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