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Leo Rosten

Leo Rosten.

Leo Calvin Rosten (April 11, 1908 - February 19, 1997) was born in Lodz, Russian Empire (now Poland) and died in New York City. He was a teacher and academic, but is best known as a humorist in the fields of scriptwriting, storywriting, journalism and Yiddish lexicography.

BiographyEdit

ScriptwriterEdit

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Front cover of an edition of The Joys of Yiddish.

Rosten was a successful screenwriter. He wrote the story for The Dark Corner, a film noir starring Mark Stevens; and Lured, the Douglas Sirk-directed period drama featuring Lucille Ball. He is listed as one of the writers for Captain Newman, M.D. adapted from his novel of the same title. Other films: Mechanized Patrolling (1943) (as Leonard Q. Ross), They Got Me Covered (1943) (story) (as Leonard Q. Ross), All Through the Night (1942) (story) (as Leonard Q. Ross), The Conspirators (1944) (screenplay), The Velvet Touch (1948), Sleep, My Love (1948) (novel) (screenplay), Double Dynamite (1951) (story), Walk East on Beacon (1952), and Mister Cory (1957) (story).

Stories and booksEdit

Rosten is best remembered for his stories about the night-school "prodigy" Hyman Kaplan (first published in The New Yorker in the 1930s, and later reprinted in two volumes—The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N and The Return of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N, under the pseudonym Leonard Q. Ross).

He is also well-known for his encyclopedic volume The Joys of Yiddish (1968), a guide to the Yiddish language and to Jewish culture (as well as a source for anecdotes and Jewish humor). It was followed by O K*A*P*L*A*N! My K*A*P*L*A*N! 1976, and Hooray for Yiddish! (1982) , a humorous lexicon of the American language as influenced by Jewish culture. Another Rosen work is Leo Rosten's Treasury of Jewish Quotations.

QuotationsEdit

Among his own many quotations are: "A conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they're dead," "Truth is stranger than fiction; fiction has to make sense," "We see things as we are, not as they are," and "I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all."

At a tribute dinner to fellow humorist W. C. Fields, a youngish and reportedly nervous Rosten came up with the unscripted remark about Fields that "anyone who hates babies and dogs can't be all bad!" This statement is often misattributed to Fields himself.

Personal lifeEdit

In 1935, Rosten married Priscilla Ann "Pam" Mead (1911-1959), sister of anthropologist Margaret Mead. They had two daughters: Madeline Rosten and Margaret Ramsey Rosten, and a son, Philip Rosten (1938-1996), who in turn had 6 grandchildren, Josh and Ben Lee (Madeline), Seth Muir (Margaret), and Alexander, Carrie and Pamela Rosten (Phillip). Carrie followed in her grandfather's literary footsteps and has authored three books, including a young adult novel, Chloe Leiberman (Sometimes Wong). Leo's and Pam's marriage ended in divorce. Rosten's second wife, whom he married in 1960, was Gertrude Zimmerman (1915-1995).[1]

According to Alex Abella's Soldiers of Reason, Rosten was influential in forming the Social Sciences division of RAND Corporation.

BibliographyEdit

  • The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N (1930s) (as Leonard Q. Ross)
  • The Return of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N (1930s) (as Leonard Q. Ross)
  • All Through the Night (1941) (story) (as Leonard Q. Ross)
  • They Got Me Covered (1943) (story) (as Leonard Q. Ross)
  • Mechanized Patrolling (1943) (as Leonard Q. Ross)
  • The Conspirators (1944) (screenplay)
  • The Dark Corner (1946) (story)
  • Lured (1947)
  • Sleep, My Love (1948) (novel) (screenplay)
  • The Velvet Touch (1948)
  • Double Dynamite (1951) (story)
  • Walk East on Beacon! (1952)
  • Mister Cory (1957) (story)
  • Leo Rosten Bedside Book (1962)
  • Captain Newman, M.D. (1963) (novel)
  • The Joys of Yiddish (1968)
  • People I Have Loved, Known or Admired (1970)
  • A Most Private Intrigue (1970)
  • Rome Wasn't Burned In a Day: The Mischief of Language (1972)
  • Home is where to learn how to hate (1973)
  • A Trumpet for Reason (1974)
  • The Washington Correspondents (Politics and People) (1974)
  • Dear (1975)
  • The Cook Book (1975)
  • Religions of America (1975)
  • Hollywood: Movie Colony the Movie Makers (1975)
  • Dear Herm (1975)
  • O K*A*P*L*A*N! My K*A*P*L*A*N! (1976)
  • The 3:10 to anywhere (1976)
  • Look Book (1976)
  • Leo Rosten's Treasury of Jewish Quotations (1977)
  • The Power of Positive Nonsense
  • Passions & Prejudices: Or, Some of My Best Friends Are People (1978)
  • Silky. A Detective Story (1979)
  • Infinite Riches (1979)
  • King Silky (1981)
  • Hooray for Yiddish: A Book About English
  • Giant Book of Laughter (1985)
  • Leo Rosten's Book of Laughter (1986)
  • Hebrew-English Lexicon of the Bible (1987)
  • The Joys of Yinglish (1988)
  • Leo Rosten's Giant Book of Laugh (1989)
  • Leo Rosten's Carnival of Wit: From Aristotle to Woody Allen (1996)

ReferencesEdit

  1. NY Times obituary, February 20, 1997.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Leo Rosten. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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