The Philadelphia-born Odets gained world-wide fame in his career. When he died at the age of 57 he had authored almost 20 plays, writing on topics including the Nazis, the great depression and the trials of ordinary life.
His themes were not necessarily Jewish but, as the son of immigrants to America, his work often had a Jewish feel to it.
He started out as an actor and it was several years before he made the move behind the scenes, writing his first scenes for the theatre in 1935. His plays included The Country Girl, Rocket to the Moon and Golden Boy, with a musical of the latter made a year after his death.
Like Arthur Miller and other Jewish figures in the arts world, Odets was affected by the Red Scare and called for questioning by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
Forced into a corner, he named others he knew with communist links, although only those who were already known to the authorities.
What the JC said in 1938:"Awake and Sing," by Clifford Odets, the clever young Jewish playwright will be presented by the Stage Society at the Vaudeville on Sunday February 20th. The play deals with the experiences of a Jewish family in New" York. Mr. Leon M. Leon will produce. As the performance can only be attended by members of the Stage Society. an one interested in obtaining membership can get full particulars from Miss Mary Corn at 32, Shaftesbury Avenue. Wl
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