Catherine Turney (December 26, 1906 – September 9, 1998) was an American writer and screenwriter born in Chicago, Illinois, active from the 1930s to the 1970s. She was one of the first women writers to become a contract worker at Warner Brothers, where she worked from 1943 to 1948 on films such as The Man I Love, A Stolen Life, and My Reputation.
|Born||December 26, 1906|
|Died||September 9, 1998 (aged 92)|
Sierra Madre, California
Early life and education
In the summer of 1926, Turney started working at the Pasadena Playhouse's School of Theatre, where she helped Gilmore Brown prepare for the premiere of Eugene O'Neill's Lazarus Laughed. She later became the director of the Playhouse Workshop and received a scholarship for the School of Theatre, where she graduated in the first class of 1931.
In the 1930s, she had early success in theater with her plays Bitter Harvest (1936), performed in London, and due to the work's positive reviews and thinking she was English and not American, she was offered a job from MGM. She then worked on the film The Bride Wore Red (1937) which was an adaptation of Ferenc Molnár's unproduced play, The Girl from Trieste, which was later handed to another screenwriter, Joe Mankiewicz. Turney and Waldo Salt, her co-writer, were not given screen credit for the film, but Turney later stated that the film "turned out to be an awful turkey called The Bride Wore Red."
After Bitter Harvest and her experience at MGM, she returned to playwriting and penned My Dear Children (1939), her greatest stage success, which was performed on Broadway and starring John Barrymore. The play was performed 117 times and would have been performed more if Barrymore hadn't grown tired of it.
Turney returned to working at the Pasadena Playhouse until she was offered a job from Warner Brothers.
She was one of the first women writers to become a contract worker at Warner Brothers, where she worked from 1943 to 1948. When asked about why she was hired, Turney stated that due to men being at war, women could be given more opportunities. With this opportunity, Turney wrote characters for big female film stars that were known to be strong and independent women with a sense of character and humor. She became known for writing for some of the biggest stars of the time, such as Rosalind Russell, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, Bette Davis, and Barbara Stanwyck among others.
Turney is probably best known for The Man I Love, A Stolen Life, My Reputation and Mildred Pierce, although uncredited for the latter. When Mildred Pierce was nominated for Best Screenplay Writing at the 1946 Academy Awards, Turney did not receive on-screen credit and therefore was technically never nominated for an Academy Award.
Winter Meeting (1948) was Turney's last film with Warner Brothers as she would later join Paramount Pictures for the writing of No Man of Her Own in 1949. Her last screenplays were both with 20th Century Fox, they were Japanese War Bride and Back from the Dead, the latter being an adaptation of her own novel, The Other One.
Turney was married and divorced twice. Her first marriage was to Cyril E. Armbrister (1896–1966) from 1931 to 1938 and Clifford Guthrie "George" Reynolds from February 18, 1940, to 1949. She was in a long-term relationship with California artist Lenard Kester, but they never married.
Later years and death
In the later 1950s, she focused on writing biographies, historical romance novels and television soap operas. The Other One, her first novel published in 1952, was adapted into a film in 1957 under the title Back from the Dead, which she wrote the screenplay for. Perhaps her most recognized biography is Byron's Daughter: A Biography of Elizabeth Medora Leigh, which was published in 1972.
|1937||The Bride Wore Red||MGM||Uncredited, based on Ferenc Molnár's novel, The Bride from Trieste|
|1945||Roughly Speaking||Warner Bros.||Uncredited, based on Louise Randall Pierson's novel, Roughly Speaking|
|1945||Mildred Pierce||Warner Bros.||Uncredited, adapted from James M. Cain's novel, Mildred Pierce|
|1946||My Reputation||Warner Bros.||Based on Clare Jaynes' Instruct My Sorrows|
|1946||One More Tomorrow||Warner Bros.|
|1946||Of Human Bondage||Warner Bros.||Based on the novel Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham|
|1946||A Stolen Life||Warner Bros.||Based on Karel J. Benes' novel, Uloupeny Zivot|
|1947||The Man I Love||Warner Bros.||Based on Maritta Wolff's novel, Night Shift|
|1947||Cry Wolf||Warner Bros.||Based on Marjorie Carleton's novel, Cry Wolf|
|1948||Winter Meeting||Warner Bros.||Based on Ethel Vance's novel, Winter Meeting|
|1950||No Man of Her Own||Paramount Pictures||Based on Cornell Woolrich's novel, I Married a Dead Man|
|1952||Japanese War Bride||20th Century-Fox||Story by Anson Bond, screenplay by Turney|
|1957||Back from the Dead||20th Century-Fox||Adapted from her novel, The Other One (1952)|
- Biesen, Sheri Chinen (January 1, 2005). Blackout: World War II and the Origins of Film Noir. JHU Press. p. 138. ISBN 9780801882173.
- "Turney, Catherine – American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the Present | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved March 25, 2016.
- Nelmes, Jill; Selbo, Jule (September 30, 2015). Women Screenwriters: An International Guide. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 736. ISBN 9781137312389.
- Vallance, Tom (September 15, 1998). "Obituary: Catherine Turney". Independent.
- Sochen, June (January 1, 1978). "Mildred Pierce and Women in Film". American Quarterly. 30 (1): 4. doi:10.2307/2712276. JSTOR 2712276.
- Boozer, Jack (June 3, 2009). Authorship in Film Adaptation. University of Texas Press. pp. 46–62. ISBN 9780292783157.
- Senn, Bryan (July 30, 2007). A Year of Fear: A Day-by-Day Guide to 366 Horror Films. McFarland. p. 88. ISBN 9781476610900.
- "Finding aid for Papers of Catherine Turney, 1761–1998 (bulk 1934–1985). :: Finding Aids". hdl.huntington.org. Retrieved March 25, 2016.
- "Turney, Catherine". socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu. Retrieved March 25, 2016.
- "Catherine Tunrey, writer of 1940s screenplays for women, dead at 92". Observer-Reporter. Google News. September 12, 1998.
- Turney, Catherine (January 1, 1972). Byron's daughter: a biography of Elizabeth Medora Leigh. Scribner.