John Patrick (dramatist)

John Patrick
Born John Patrick Goggin
(1905-05-17)May 17, 1905
Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Died November 7, 1995(1995-11-07) (aged 90)
Delray Beach, Florida, USA
Spouse Mildred Legaye (m. 1925)
Notable work(s)
Magnum opus The Teahouse of the August Moon (1953)
Awards Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1954)

John Patrick (May 17, 1905  November 7, 1995) was an American playwright and screenwriter.


He was born John Patrick Goggin in Louisville, Kentucky. His parents soon abandoned him, and he spent a delinquent youth in foster homes and boarding schools. At age 19, he secured a job as an announcer at KPO Radio in San Francisco, California, marrying Mildred Legaye in 1925. He wrote over one thousand scripts for the Cecil and Sally radio program (originally titled "The Funniest Things"), broadcast between 1928 and 1933. The show's sole actors were Patrick and Helen Troy. In 1937, Patrick wrote adaptations for NBC's Streamlined Shakespeare series, guest-starring Helen Hayes.

Produced on a tight budget, his first play, Hell Freezes Over, directed by Joshua Logan, had a brief run on Broadway in 1935. However, the credit opened the door for him as a Hollywood scriptwriter.

In 1942, a second play, The Willow and I, was produced with Martha Scott and Gregory Peck in the starring roles. Before its first night, Patrick had volunteered for the American Field Service providing medical services in support of the British Army fighting World War II. He served with Montgomery's Eighth Army in Egypt and subsequently saw action in India and Burma where the ideas for his next play The Hasty Heart were germinated. Patrick completed the play on the ship that returned him to the US after the war, and it proved a great commercial success, being adapted for the screen in 1949, with Ronald Reagan as the star, and for TV in 1983.

His next two plays, The Curious Savage (1950) and Lo and Behold (1951), fared less well, but it was his 1953 stage adaptation of Vern J. Sneider's novel The Teahouse of the August Moon that marked the height of his fame, winning both the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for drama. He adapted the play for the screen in 1956 and for the musical stage, under the title Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen, in 1970. In 1955, he adapted a well-known autobiographical book, A Many-Splendoured Thing by Han Suyin, for the movie Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing.

His next play, Good as Gold (1957), was less well received, and most of the rest of his career was dedicated to a series of successful screenwriting assignments. Following his success with The Hasty Heart, Patrick bought the 65 acres (26 ha) estate, Hasty Hill at Suffern, New York. He later moved to Saint Thomas, United States Virgin Islands.

On November 7, 1995, the 90-year-old playwright was found dead in his room with a plastic bag over his head. His death was ruled a suicide. Patrick is now best remembered for his screen work though his plays remain popular with community theatres.

The John Patrick Collection, including the playwright's books, letters, and manuscripts is held at the Rare Book Department of Boston University.


Theatre Productions


Television Scripts



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