Art Caesar

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The older brother of songwriter Irving Caesar ("Tea for Two," "I Want to be Happy" etc.), Arthur Caesar was inspired to be a writer when he first read the poetry of Walt Whitman. Before embarking upon his writing career, Caesar served in World War I and earned a Distinguished Service citation after volunteering for a medical experiment. During the 1920s, he was a reporter for famed yellow journalist Louis Weitzenkorn, quickly earning a reputation for being as brash and colorful as his boss. Redirecting his energies to the theater, Caesar wrote the popular one-act play Napoleon's Barber, which was adapted for the screen as director John Ford's first talkie. On the strength of this amusing piece, Caesar was hired by Fox Studios, where his iconoclastic, biting wit eventually cost him his job. One of the few Hollywood producers willing to put up with Caesar's jibes was Darryl F. Zanuck, then running his own production unit at Warner Bros. studios. Caesar was then hired by Warner Bros and it was during this time that he produced such Warners films as Her Majesty Love (1931, with W. C. Fields) and Fireman Save My Child (1932, with Joe E. Brown) In 1934, Caesar won a "Best Original Story" Academy Award for his now-classic crime yarn Manhattan Melodrama, a film that spawned several remakes, both official and otherwise. After 1935, however, he found it hard to get work in Hollywood, again thanks to his outspokenness. Even his old mentor Zanuck, now in charge of 20th Century-Fox, was averse to putting up with Caesar's broadsides. But though his film assignments were fewer and farther between in the 1940s and 1950s, and serious illness began eroding his physical strength, Caesar never lost his sense of humor. Shortly before his death, Arthur Caesar managed to find steady work on television.



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