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Lucille Fletcher

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  • Lucille Fletcher's stories and screenplays chilled at least three generations of filmgoers and television viewers over the course of a career that carried her from a clerk typist's job in New York radio to the life of a successful screenwriter in Hollywood. Born in Brooklyn, Fletcher had the goal from childhood of becoming a writer. She attended Vassar, where she was a rival and friend of future author Mary McCarthy. Fletcher was hired by the CBS network in the early '30s as a typist, music librarian, and publicity copy writer. She also made the acquaintance at CBS of conductor/composer Bernard Herrmann, whom she married in 1939. By then, she'd decided to try writing radio scripts herself, and it was while Fletcher and Herrmann were traveling West by car that she found the inspiration -- in an odd looking man whom she passed hitchhiking twice on the trip -- for one of her two most well-known scripts, The Hitchhiker. This story, told in the first person on the radio in a classic performance by Orson Welles (with music by Herrmann), was about a motorist driving cross-country who continually encounters a vaguely menacing hitchhiker, only to learn in the end that the man is Death, and the traveler has already died in an accident on his first day on the road. The story was later adapted into an installment of The Twilight Zone with Inger Stevens in the central role. Fletcher's marriage to Herrmann produced two children, one of them the author Dorothy Herrmann, but ended in 1948. She later married novelist John Douglass Wallop, whose book The Year The Yankees Lost The Pennant became the basis for the musical Damn Yankees. In 1943, Fletcher was inspired to write her other most famous script, Sorry, Wrong Number, following an encounter with a demanding and neurotic woman who wouldn't let her go ahead on line at a market with milk for one of her daughters who was ill. Authored as "revenge" on this woman, the story told of a neurotic, bedridden woman who overhears a telephone conversation about a murder, only to learn that she is the intended victim. Agnes Moorehead did the monologue script on radio, first broadcast on May 25, 1943, and once every year for the next five. In 1948, Universal Pictures produced a screen adaptation (scripted by Fletcher) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster. Fletcher turned to writing novels in the 1950s, and one of her books, Blindfold, became the basis for a thriller starring Rock Hudson, about a psychiatrist whose treatment of a top-level scientist is complicated by the fact that he can't even be told who his patient is. Fletcher's other books included And Presumed Dead, The Strange Blue Yawl, The Girl In Cabin B54, and Eighty Dollars To Stamford. One of Fletcher's plays, Night Watch, was also a success on Broadway and became a movie of the same name with Elizabeth Taylor and Laurence Harvey.








No Score Yet The Nightman Screenwriter 1994


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