Guide to the Papers of John D. Hess, 1935 - 1995Manuscript ML-103

Biography

John David Hess was born in Chicago on April 17, 1918. He graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory School and attended Dartmouth College. While at Dartmouth, he twice won the prize of Best Original Play, graduating with distinction in 1939. After studying for a year at Yale University's School of Drama, Hess worked as a writer for WGN radio in Chicago. Hess served as a tank officer in World War II and wrote "Move Out, Verify- The Combat Story of the 743rd Tank Battalion." Hess became Bucks County Playhouse playwright in residence in New Hope, PA in 1954, where his plays "The Facts of Life," "The Better Mousetrap," and "A Perfect Frenzy" had their first performances. Hess originated and wrote for one of the earliest television soap operas, "Love of Life" (which aired until 1980), as well as "Search for Tomorrow" for CBS Television in 1951. Hess also wrote scripts for television shows, such as "M*A*S*H," "Alice," "One Day at a Time," "The Streets of San Francisco," "The Rockford Files," and "Ben Casey." Hess wrote a Broadway play, "The Grey-Eyed People," which opened in December 1951. His movie "A Matter of Morals" was produced in Sweden in 1961, but the Catholic Church limited its distribution because of the content. Hess' first wife, Jane (Vosper), died In 1996 . John David Hess died of lung cancer on April 5, 2004, at the age of eighty-five.

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