John Patrick

Author of the play
Adopted from the novel by Vern Snyder
Photo by Talbot Studios

Before dramatizing "Teahouse", John Patrick had already established himself as a playwright of first rank with several productions on Broadway. They include "The Hasty Heart," "The Curious Savage," "Lo and Behold" and several other plays.

Born in Louisville, KY, he spent his boyhood in boarding schools all over the South and Far West, being expelled from most of them for challenging authority.

His college career was similarly nomadic - Harvard to Columbia to N.Y. University. His first writing assignment was at a Hollywood radio station, where he had been hired originally as a singer. Hearing that there were to be auditions there, Patrick naively believed this meant auditions for dramatic writers. When he discovered he was expected to sing, he went through it for fun-and got the job with his vocal efforts.

Once on the radio station's payroll, however, he was soon busy writing playlets for production on the air. In addition he wrote a play for the stage, "Hell Freezes Over," which he later called "one of the world's worst." He didn't think this at the time, though.

To market the play, he worked his transportation to N.Y. by chauffeuring two old ladies east in their car. For months after his arrival, while he peddled his play, he lived mostly on tea, with sugar "borrowed" from the Automat.

He managed to have the play produced (it was the first play to be directed by Joshua Logan) but it closed quickly. The production "qualified" him all the same for a job as a Hollywood screenwriter, and back west he went.

He came to a film studio on a six-week trial contract. He collected his check every Friday, but wasn't assigned to write a line. At the end of the six weeks, however, his agent told him that the studio liked his work so much they were picking up his option of six months. This gave him time to write two more plays.

Book copyrighted 1952
published 1955?

One he shelved because it became unsuitable with the outbreak of World War II. The other was "The Willow and I," which was produced with Martha Scott and Gregory Peck in the leading roles. Patrick never saw a performance of that play. Before it could open, he was on his way overseas, for he had enlisted in the American Field Service, a corps of volunteer medical aides serving with the British army.

He served with Montgomery's Eighth Army in Egypt and then was transferred to India and Burma. The idea for his next play, destined to be his first big hit, "The Hasty Heart," was germinated in hospitals for troops in the orient. This Far-Eastern experience was also a qualification nine years later for his assignment to dramatize "Teahouse."

He wrote "The Hasty Heart" aboard the ship that brought him back to the U.S. after the war. It was a big hit, and he followed this up with "The Curious Savage" in 1950. His next play, "Lo and Behold," in 1951, did not win so great a success in New York, but has been popular in stock.

"Teahouse" in 1953 brought him to the peak of fame and fortune. A subsequent play, "Good as Gold," in 1957, had a brief run.

Mr. Patrick has adapted a number of notable stories for the screen: Irving Stone''s "The President's Lady," John Secondari's story of life in Rome, "Three Coins in the Fountain," Han Suyin's "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing," and James Jones' "Some Came Running." He also wrote the screenplays for two popular musicals, "Les Girls" and "High Society."

After the success of "The Hasty Heart" Patrick lived for many years on a 65-acre farm called Hasty Hill near Suffern, N.Y. (except for expeditions to Hollywood) where he wrote in rainy weather and felled trees. Later he moved to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands where he continued to write plays. Most of Patrick's plays have been welcomed by regional and community theaters, but have not been produced on Broadway.

John Patrick died in November, 1995, at the age of 90.