John Van Druten

John Van Druten (Playwright, Bell Book and Candle) was primarily known as a witty, urbane observer of modern society. He was born in London in 1901 and originally planned a career in law, which he practiced and taught for a time, before pursuing a career as a writer. He first came to prominence in London in 1925 with Young Woodley and enjoyed tremendous success in the 1930s with star-studded West End productions of his work including Diversion (1928), After All (1929), London Wall (1931), There’s Always Juliet (1931), Somebody Knows (1932), Behold, We Live (1932), The Distaff Side (1933) and Flowers of the Forest (1934).

Van Druten later emigrated to America where he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1944. His best-received American works were The Voice of the Turtle (1943), which ran for three seasons in New York and was later filmed with Ronald Reagan; I Remember Mama (1944), later filmed with Irene Dunne and Barbara Bel Geddes; Bell, Book and Candle (1950), later filmed with Kim Novak and James Stewart; and I Am a Camera (1951) which together with Christopher Isherwood’s short stories Goodbye to Berlin formed the basis of Joe Masteroff’s book for the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret in 1966.

In additional to playwriting, van Druten directed the last nine productions of his own plays, and in 1951, he directed the first production of The King and I, which ran for 1,246 performances on Broadway. He published two novels: a version of Young Woodley (1928) and The Vicarious Years (1955), along with two autobiographies: The Way to the Present (1938) and The Widening Circle: Personal Search (1957). Van Druten died in Indio, California, in 1957.

October, 2010