22 October 1906
New York City, New York, U.S.
20 March 1995 (aged 88)|
Oakland, New Jersey, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Madge Evans (1939-1981) (her death)|
Life and careerEdit
Kingsley was born Sidney Kirschner in New York. He studied at Cornell University, where he began his career writing plays for the college dramatic club. He joined the Group Theater for the production of his first major work. In 1933 the company performed his play Men in White. Set in a hospital, the play dealt with the issue of illegal abortion, 1930s medical and surgical practices and the struggle of one promising physician who must choose to dedicate his life to medicine or devote himself to his fiancée. The play was a box-office smash.
Kingsley followed this success with the play Dead End in 1935. A story about slum housing and its connection to crime, the piece was also fairly successful, eventually spawning the Dead End Kids. The two plays which followed, the anti-war Ten Million Ghosts of 1936 and The World We Make of 1939, were flops and had short runs. But in 1943 Kingsley returned to his previous success with the historical drama The Patriots. This play, which told the story of Thomas Jefferson and his activities in the young American republic, won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. Kingsley continued writing for the theater late into his career, adapting Arthur Koestler's novel Darkness at Noon for the stage in 1951, and writing Lunatics and Lovers in 1954 and Night Life in 1962.
In addition to his work for the stage, Kingsley wrote a number of scripts for Hollywood productions, mostly based on his own work.
Meeting him in 1957, Michael Korda described Kingsley as "a short, powerfully built man with broad shoulders, a big head, and rough-hewn features that made him look like a bust by Sir Jacob Epstein. Kingsley hired Korda as an assistant to do research for a screenplay he was writing for CBS on the Hungarian Revolution which was eventually canceled.
- Derby Daily Telegraph, 26 July 1939
- Korda, Michael (1999). Another Life: A Memoir of Other People. Random House. pp. 14–24. ISBN 9780679456599.
That was true enough, I thought, though not very nice of Sidney to say. "What's the lesson?" I asked. "Ah, the lesson. Never forget that people who pay a writer always have much, much more money and power than he does, whether it's a publishing house, a movie studio, or a television network. With that in mind,"--his voice changed to a fair imitation of W.C. Fields--"'Never give a sucker an even break.' You can go now."
- The Stage, 30 December 1965
- "Theater Hall of Fame Gets 10 New Members". New York Times. May 10, 1983.
- Flint, Peter B. "Sidney Kingsley, Playwright, Is Dead at 88; Creator of Dead End and Men in White", The New York Times, March 21, 1995. Accessed May 25, 2016. "Sidney Kingsley, who brought the gritty drama of mean city streets into the theater in plays including Dead End and Detective Story and who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1933 for his first Broadway play, Men in White, died yesterday at his home in Oakland, N.J."
- Belfast News-Letter, 10 March 1936
- Torbay Express and South Devon Echo, 3 January 1939
- The Stage, 17 January 1963