Arnaud d'Usseau

Arnaud d'Usseau (April 18, 1916 – January 29, 1990) was a playwright and B-movie screenwriter who is perhaps best remembered today for his collaboration with Dorothy Parker on the play The Ladies of the Corridor.[1]


D'Usseau was born in Los Angeles and was the son of Leon d'Usseau, also a screenwriter and director of some repute during the silent era. His mother, Ottola “Tola” Smith D’Usseau, was a character actress. He first came to notice as the co-writer (with James Gow) of Tomorrow the World, a 1943 drama about a German boy adopted by an American couple who then have to struggle with his Nazi upbringing. In 1945, another controversial play by D'Usseau and Gow followed, Deep Are the Roots, about a black army officer who falls in love with a former Senator's daughter. It ran for 477 performances over 14 months, directed by Elia Kazan and starring Barbara Bel Geddes and Gordon Heath.[2] and subsequently had a successful tour in the UK.[3] In 2012 the play was produced at the Metropolitan Playhouse.[4]

In late 1950, his name appeared on the Hollywood blacklist as a Communist sympathizer. He was forced to appear before Senator Joe McCarthy's investigative subcommittee in 1953, but declined to answer any questions, declaring that he would be glad to discuss Communism with the Senator in a forum where the cards were not stacked against him. Afterwards, he moved to Europe and continued to write screenplays under various pseudonyms. Upon returning to the United States, he taught writing at New York University.

He died in 1990 at his home in New York, following surgery for stomach cancer.[5]

Selected filmography


  1. Dorothy Parker and Arnaud d’Usseau, The Ladies of the Corridor, Introduction by Marion Meade, Penguin Classics, 2008, ISBN 978-0-14-310531-2
  2. Eleanor Blau, "Gordon Heath, 72; Co-Starred in Play 'Dweep are the Roots'", The New York Times, August 31, 1991.
  3. Linda Rapp, "Heath, Gordon", in Claude J. Summers (ed.), The Queer Encyclopedia of Music, Dance & Musical Theater, Cleis Press, 2004, p. 118.
  4. Rachel Saltz, "From G.I. Joe to Jim Crow, a Difficult Homecoming", The New York Times, March 11, 2012.
  5. Obituary by C. Gerald Fraser, New York Times, February 1, 1990.


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