The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

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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.

Article

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.

Bibliography

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.

UJE.

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

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

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How to cite this page

Frank, Glenda. "Rose Franken." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 31 December 1999. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on September 28, 2021) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/franken-rose>.