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Dorothy Heyward
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Playwright
    (June 6, 1890-November 19, 1961)
    Born in Wooster, Ohio
    Birth name was Dorothy Hartzell Kuhns
    Wife of DuBose Heyward (m. 1923)
    Co-authored the play 'Porgy' with her husband (based on his book of the same name), in 1927
    Play would later be adapted for an opera by Ira and George Gershwin, 'Porgy and Bess,' in 1935 (and later a film, by the same name, in 1959, starring Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge)
    Other works included 'Nancy Ann' (1924) 'Jonica' (1930), 'Cinderelative' (1930), 'Mamba's Daughter' (1939), 'South Pacific' (1943), and 'Set My People Free' (1948)
    She looked like Margaret Sanger.
    She was perpetually in her husband's shadow.
    In fact, the latter half of her career was distinguished less by her literary output than her ongoing quest to preserve her late husband's 'legacy.'
    She actively 'cleaned up' her husband's novel when it made the transition to the stage, removing any and all references to social progressivism and to Jim Crow laws, to avoid offending Southern audiences.
    The play's success, and the amount of money it generated, attracted controversy when the mother of Samuel Smalls (the original model for the Porgy character) gave an interview to a Southern newspaper admitting that her son had received no royalties from the book or play.
    When Mrs. Heyward heard of this, she rushed to administer damage control, organizing funds to be channeled to the Smalls family as compensation (making for good PR even in a 'deep south' city like Charleston).
    Fearful of a lawsuit, however, she privately armed herself with an attorney, and mocked his mother in correspondences to him, calling her 'a skinflint' and further adding 'It would be fun if the old gal could be proven a fake... It is so typical of the race - pitifully begging for a handout - that I believe most Southerners would accept the idea as routine.'
    The issue resurfaced when the now-musical was being adapted into a film by Samuel Goldwyn in 1959, prompting her to pen an essay called 'Anybody Hyah Know Porgy?' in which she made an effort to distinguish the 'honest beggar' of the story from 'some 'stinker who took pot shots at his lady friends and spent much of his time in jail.'
    She acted as a part-time consultant for production but expressed a visceral disapproval with it following its theatrical release. As a result, per joint order by both the Heyward and Gershwin estates, the film has been barred from re-release or distribution via DVD/VHS for over four decades.
    She attended G.P. Baker’s Workshop 47 at Harvard University.
    She met her husband at the MacDowell Colony, a famed New Hampshire artists' retreat, where she spent her summers.
    Her husband dealt with a life long struggle with polio.
    She attained fair-to-middling success on Broadway, in her own right, with several plays in the early 1930s.
    Her husband initially rejected her idea to transform his 'Porgy' novel into a play.
    She set about writing a draft of the play herself, telling DuBose that she was working on 'a detective novel.' When he saw her finished work, he became enthusiastic about the project.
    She approached revisions to her husband's play from the perspective of a shrewd businesswoman (the play's social consciousness wouldn't have meant jack if it couldn't sell tickets).
    She convinced her husband to trade in the novel's bleak ending for an ending on a more uplifting note in the play (having Porgy set off to find Bess, rather than remain on Catfish Row after being jilted).
    'Porgy and Bess' was the first major American play to focus on African-Americans with an authentic cast, as opposed to white actors in 'blackface' makeup.
    She later conceded to her attorney that it was 'right and proper' that Sammy Smalls' family receive some royalties for the success of the play and musical, given their financial difficulties.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


    For 2018, as of last week, Out of 3 Votes: 100% Annoying
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