Philip Yordan, Class of 1936

Academy Award winning writer

Philip YordanBorn to Polish immigrants in Chicago, Philip Yordan earned a law degree from Chicago-Kent in 1936, but soon headed to Hollywood where he would become an Oscar-winning screenwriter who also produced several films. He won an Academy Award for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story, for Broken Lance (1954) and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay, for Detective Story (1951) and for Best Writing, Original Screenplay, for Dillinger (1945). However, his big break actually came on Broadway in the 1940s with Anna Lucasta, a play originally about a struggling Polish family in Chicago that was rewritten by a black playwright for the American Negro Theater in New York. The play moved to Broadway in 1944, becoming the first Broadway production to feature an all-black cast in a drama unrelated to racial issues. Yordan later made two film versions of Anna Lucasta.

With upwards of 100 feature films on his resume, Yordan also became known for serving as a front for friends and other writers who had been blacklisted during the McCarthy era. In the 1950s, he was involved in movies featuring the era’s biggest stars, including Humphrey Bogart in his last film, The Harder They Fall (1956).  He also worked closely with director Anthony Mann on six major productions (The Man from Laramie, The Last Frontier, Men in War, God’s Little Acre, El Cid and The Fall of the Roman Empire). Yordan passed away in 2003 at the age of 88.