Well known for penning the screenplay for Gone with the Wind, Sidney Coe Howard was a successful and well-loved playwright, novelist and screenwriter until his tragic death at his farm in Tyringham, Massachusetts in 1939. The Sidney Coe Howard papers (BANC MSS 70/185 z) bring a bit of Hollywood glamour and Broadway pizzazz to the dusty, yet hallowed halls of the Bancroft with their extensive documentation of not only Coe Howard’s writerly output, but, moreover, the early years of the film industry and the socio-cultural milieu in which he flourished. A native son of Oakland, California and graduate of U.C. Berkeley, Coe Howard went on to make his home and career in New York City, Los Angeles and Massachusetts. A writer and editor for such magazines as Life, The New Republic and Collier’s, Coe Howard staged his first play, Swords, in 1921, and had a successful career in the translation and adaptation of foreign plays until 1929, when he started writing for film in earnest. In 1925, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, for the 1924 Theatre Guild production of his play, They Knew What They Wanted. Among his other plays, manuscripts of which are included in the collection, are Ned McCobb’s Daughter, The Silver Cord, Yellow Jack, Alien Corn, Lute Song and his adaptation of Carl van Doren’s Benjamin Franklin, his final piece of writing.
Originally married to the actress Clare Eames, who herself died tragically at the age of 36, Coe Howard went on to marry Leopoldine (Polly) Damrosch, daughter of the New York Symphony Orchestra conductor, Walter Johannes Damrosch. Coe Howard had one daughter with Eames, Clare Jenness Eames Howard, who later changed her name to Jennifer, was herself a stage and film actress and, for a time, was married Samuel Goldwyn, Jr.
Mario H. Ramírez, Archivist