Rose Franken

December 28, 1895–1988

by Glenda Frank

In Brief

Rose Lewin Franken challenged her audiences with fiction, films, and plays that turned their expectations on their heads, publishing her first novel, Pattern, in 1925. Her third play, Another Language, was wildly successful, opening in 1932 and running for 453 performances. In 1933, Franken moved to Hollywood, where she wrote screenplays and short stories. In 1937 she married William Brown Meloney and began collaborating with him on novels and screenplays. In 1943 she wrote and directed Outrageous Fortune, a play about anti-Semitism and homophobia, casting against type to defy stereotypes, but despite praise from critics, the play closed after 77 performances. Throughout her career, Franken set up and deflated sentimentality in her work with quirky humor and plot twists that played against expectations.


Rose Dorothy Lewin Franken was a celebrated Broadway playwright and director, a Hollywood screenwriter, and a popular novelist whose fiction touched a sympathetic chord in American women. After much success as both a playwright and a novelist, she ventured into more problematic subject matter, but the adverse criticism and low box office receipts convinced her to return to lighter themes. Later in her career, she complained that Claudia, her most famous creation, had overshadowed her author.


Abramson, Doris E. “Franken, Rose Dorothy Lewin.” In Notable Women in American Theatre: A Biographical Dictionary, edited by Alice M. Robinson, Vera Mowry Roberts, and Milly S. Barranger (1989).

Bordman, Gerald. The Oxford Companion to American Literature (1984).

Franken, Rose. Clipping file, photograph file, and manuscript collection. Billy Rose Theatre Collection, New York City Public Library for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center.

Rare Book and Manuscript Collection, Butler Library, Columbia University.

McGill, Raymond D., ed. Notable Names in the American Theatre (1976).

Rigdon, Walter, ed. The Biographical Encyclopedia and Who’s Who of the American Theatre (1966).

Shafer, Yvonne. American Women Playwrights 1900–1950 (1995) and Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook: 1984.


Variety Obituaries, 1987–1988. Vol. 12. Edited by Barbara Bergeron and Chuck Bartelt (1989).

Who Was Who in Theatre 1912–1976. Vol. 2 (1978).

Have an update or correction? Let us know


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox

Read the latest from JWA from your inbox.

sign up now

How to cite this page

Frank, Glenda. "Rose Franken." Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women. 31 December 1999. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 22, 2024) <>.