(1889-1961) American journalist and playwright.
Born in Pittsburgh, PA, where he began a career in newspaper journalism.
He shares credit for over 40 plays, most of them collaborations. His first commercially successful collaboration was with Marc Connelly in 1921, on Dulcy, as well as Beggar on Horseback (1924) and at least 6 other comedies.
Best known for his work with Moss Hart, in plays that include: You Can't Take It with You (1936) and The Man Who Came to Dinner (1939).
Other collaborators included Larry Evans and Walter Percival, with whom he wrote his first play, Someone in the House (1918). Notable later collaborations include those with Edna Ferber in The Royal Family (1927), Dinner at Eight (1932), and Stage Door (1936),; and with Morrie Ryskind in the book for the musical Of Thee I Sing (1931). He also helped John Steinbeck bring Of Mice and Men to the stage.
While there has been a minor resurgence in interest in his work in recent years, Kaufman's work has frequently been viewed as "conventional in plot and usually devoid of theme."1 In particular, his work on a number of successful musicals, including those with songs by Irving Berlin was overshadowed by the more integrated musical theatre that arose from Rodgers and Hammerstein and the generation of composers and librettists who moved American musical theatre away from pastiche, vaudeville "turns" and other vestiges of the era of the revue and "light entertainment." While full of wit and antic comedy, Kaufman's work often compared poorly to the work that replaced it for several decades. However, the forms and conventions found in Kaufman have made a resurgence of sorts, at least on Broadway stages, as producers find themselves more risk averse, and in need of vehicles that are proven crowdpleasers of the likes of Riverdance and others.
Also, the critical neglect (and possible overreaction) that his work has suffered, has made him a sort of theatrical martyr, and provides a rationale for some directors and producers to make a more forgiving reappraisal of his work, and provide an excuse for the staging of revival productions, which also. oddly enough, happen to sell tickets more easily and predictably than many works whose critical reputation may be of a higher order, but whose marketability is not so lofty.
1 quote from Myron Matlaw, Modern World Drama: An Encyclopedia.