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Richard Brooks


BROOKS, RICHARD (Ruben Sax; 1912–1992), U.S. film director and writer. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Brooks worked as a sportswriter for the Philadelphia Record (1932–34). After joining the Atlantic City Press Union, he moved to New York, where he got a job with Radio WNEW. He was appointed news writer, commentator, and narrator for NBC radio. In 1940 Brooks founded the Mill Pond Theater Company with David Loew in Roslyn, New York, where he made his directorial debut. That fall, on a trip to California, he landed a job at a local radio station, writing a short story every day and reading it over the air. He also wrote and directed the radio show William Sands. In 1942 Brooks got his start in the feature film industry, writing additional dialogue for Sin Town and Men of Texas. In 1943 he wrote his first screenplay for the feature film White Savage.

That same year he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, where he was threatened with a court-martial for his novel about racial discrimination in the services, The Brick Foxhole (1945). Sinclair Lewis intervened successfully on his behalf, and he later won an Oscar for his direction of Lewis's Elmer Gantry (1960). Brooks also wrote the screenplay and directed Blackboard Jungle (1955), a film about racial tension in New York City schools, and the racially charged Something of Value (1957) as well as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1968); The Brothers Karamazov (1958); Sweet Bird of Youth (1962); The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954); Lord Jim (1965); The Professionals (1966); In Cold Blood (1967); The Happy Ending (1969); The Heist (1971); Bite the Bullet (1975); Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977); Wrong Is Right (1982); and Fever Pitch (1985). He also wrote the screenplay for director John Huston's Key Largo (1948). He married actress Jean Simmons in 1960; they divorced in 1977.


P. Brion, Richard Brooks (1986).

[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.