Owen Davis

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Owen Davis
Owen Davis, Sr.jpg
Born Owen Gould Davis
(1874-01-29)January 29, 1874
Portland, Maine, U.S.
Died October 14, 1956(1956-10-14) (aged 82)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Pen name John Oliver
Occupation Playwright, screenwriter
Nationality American
Spouse Elizabeth Breyer
Child(ren) Owen Davis, Jr.
Donald Davis
Magnum opus Icebound
Awards Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1923)

Owen Gould Davis, Sr. (January 29, 1874 – October 14, 1956) was an American dramatist. He received the 1923 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his 1923 play Icebound, and penned hundreds of plays and scripts for radio and film. Before the First World War, he also wrote racy sketches of New York high jinks and low life for the Police Gazette under the name of Ike Swift. Many of these were set in the Tenderloin, Manhattan. Davis also wrote under several other pseudonyms, including Martin Hurley, Arthur J. Lamb, Walter Lawrence, John Oliver, and Robert Wayne.[1]

Personal life

Davis was born in Portland, Maine and lived in Bangor until he was fifteen. He was the father of actor Owen, Jr., and playwright Donald. His brother Wilsterliam Hammatt Davis was Chairman of the National War Labor Board in Franklin Roosevelt's administration. Davis died in New York City.

As a boy, Owen Davis wrote plays for his eight brothers and sisters, who performed them for the town.


  • Sketches of Gotham (as Ike Swift)(1906)
  • Nellie, the Beautiful Cloak Model (1906)
  • Deadwood Dick's Last Shot (1907)
  • The Scrap of Paper (1917)
  • The Detour (1921)
  • Icebound (1923), for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize (*adapted into a 1924 silent film Icebound directed by William C. deMille
  • The Nervous Wreck (1923), play, later made into the 1926 motion picture of the same name, and the 1944 motion picture Up in Arms; later produced as a musical, Whoopee!, staged on Broadway in 1928 and 1979 and made into the 1930 Whoopee!
  • The Haunted House (1924)
  • Lazybones (1924), made into the 1925 motion picture of the same name
  • Beware of Widows (1925)
  • Easy Come, Easy Go (1926), play later produced as a musical, Lady Fingers (1929)
  • The Great Gatsby (1926), play based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, made into the 1949 motion picture
  • Just to Remind You (1931), play which premiered at Lakewood Theatre in Maine, with Humphrey Bogart in lead
  • The Good Earth (1932), dramatization of the Pearl S. Buck novel, later produced as the 1937 motion picture, all of the same name
  • Jezebel (1933), original play turned into the 1938 motion picture of the same name
  • The Convict's Sweetheart
  • Ethan Frome (1935), play based on the Edith Wharton novel, produced on Broadway in 1936
  • Mr. and Mrs. North (1941), dramatization from short stories by Richard Lockridge and Frances Lockridge, made into the 1942 motion picture
  • The Snark Was a Boojum (1943), dramatization of a novel by Richard Shattuck
  • No Way Out (1944)


  1. ^ Bryer, Jackson R.; Hartig, Mary C., eds. (2010). The Facts on File Companion to American Drama (2nd ed.). New York: Facts on File. pp. 119–120. ISBN 978-0-8160-7748-9. 

Further reading

  • Staff writers (April 15, 1992). "Donald Davis Is Dead; Playwright Was 88". The New York Times. Retrieved December 12, 2008. 
  • Webster's Biographical Dictionary (First ed.). Springfield, MA: G. & C. Merriam Co. 1980. 

External links

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