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            Zoe Akins


            Poet, playwright, novelist and screenwriter Zoë Akins was born on the day before Halloween in 1886 in Humansville, Missouri. She was home-schooled before attending the Monticello Seminary in Godfrey, Illinois, and Hosmer Hall in St. Louis for her education. Akins lived in St. Louis for many years, writing poetry and contributing criticism to the magazine "Reedy's Mirror". As a writer she developed into a successful contributor to the leading magazines of the day.

            Akins wrote 40 plays, starting with the sophisticated comedy "Papa" in 1914. "The Magical City", which was part of the repertory of the Washington Square Players' 1915-16 season, was her first Broadway production, opening on October 4, 1915. There were to be another 17 original plays of hers produced on Broadway over the next 30 years.

            Her first big hit was "Declassée", which starred Ethel Barrymore and ran for 257 performances in the 1919-20 season. She did not have another big hit until "The Greeks Had a Word for It", which ran for 253 performances in the 1930-21 season. Her most famous play, "The Old Maid"--an adaptation of Edith Wharton's novel--ran for 305 performances from January through September 1935. The play brought Akins the 1935 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. None of her plays has ever been revived on Broadway.

            Her play "Daddy's Gone A-Hunting" was the first to be adapted by Hollywood, serving as the basis for the 1925 film of the same name (Daddy's Gone A-Hunting (1925)) directed by Frank Borzage. Hollywood also bought "Declassée" (which it adapted twice, as a 1925 silent 0Declassée (1925)] and as a 1928 sound film, Her Private Life (1929)) and "The Moon-Flower", which was turned into Eve's Secret (1925). In 1930 she became a screenwriter herself, writing the dialogue for Sarah and Son (1930), a "woman's picture" directed by Dorothy Arzner, the sole woman director to successfully make the transition from silents to sound in Hollywood. Akins and Arzner would also collaborate on Anybody's Woman (1930), Working Girls (1931) and Christopher Strong (1933), Katharine Hepburn's second film; her debut was in Morning Glory (1933), based on an Akins play that did not make it to Broadway. The role brought Hepburn the first of her four Academy Awards as Best Actress.

            Apart from the movies made from her plays and her novel "Pardon My Glove" (adapted as Ladies Love Brutes (1930)), Akins wrote, adapted or contributed the story to 15 motion pictures. Her most famous film, as a contributing writer, was the classic Camille (1936), which she worked on along with James Hilton and Frances Marion.

            Zoë Atkins died in Los Angeles, California, on October 29, 1958, one day before what would have been her 72nd birthday.

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