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.


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Labor activist and prolific screenwriter Sonya Levien.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Sonya Levien." (Viewed on January 25, 2021) <>.


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