This website is made possible by generous donations from users just like you. $18 helps keep JWA online for one day.  Please consider making a gift to JWA today!
Close [x]


You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Sonya Levien

Sonya Levien was one of the most prolific screenwriters of her day, crafting over seventy films ranging from the 1939 version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame to the screen adaptations of Oklahoma! and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Levien became involved with labor unions while working as a secretary, then put herself through law school at NYU, though she only practiced law for six months. In 1912 she turned to her real love, writing and editing, through the journal Metropolitan. She married the journal’s editor, Carl Hovey, in 1917, and began writing screenplays while he turned his hand to Hollywood script editing. His career floundered, but Levien became a success, writing scripts for films from the silent movie era through the 1950s. She was particularly valued for her ability to write quickly and her talent for fixing problematic scripts by other writers. Her movies included classics like 1931’s Daddy Long Legs, 1933’s State Fair, and 1938’s Kidnapped. She won an Oscar for Interrupted Melody in 1955. A hard–working professional, she wrote her last film in 1957, though she was also credited in the 1962 remake of State Fair, two years after her death.

More on: Labor, Unions, Film, Law, Journalism
Sonya Levien
Full image
Labor activist and prolific screenwriter Sonya Levien.
Date of Birth
December 25, 1888
Place of Birth
Date of Death
March 19, 1960

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Sonya Levien." (Viewed on December 18, 2018) <>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

listen now

Sign Up for JWA eNews


Discover Education Programs

Join our growing community of educators.

view programs