Rachel Crothers

Rachel Crothers

Rachel Crothers (12 December, 1878 – 5 July, 1958) was a prolific and successful American playwright and theater director, known for her well-crafted plays. One of the most famous was "Susan and God" (1937), which was made into a film by MGM in 1940 starring Joan Crawford and Frederic March.

Crothers was born in Bloomington, Illinois, USA. Asked how to pronouce her name, she told "The Literary Digest" it rhymed with "brothers". (Charles Earle Funk, "What's the Name, Please?", Funk & Wagnalls, 1936.)

Rachel Crothers’ parents were Dr. Eli Kirk Crothers and Dr. Marie Louise (de Pew) Crothers. Her mother was one of the first woman physicians in Central Illinois.

Rachel graduated from University High School (Normal) in 1891 and Illinois State Normal School (now Illinois State University) in 1892. She studied dramatic arts in Boston and New York City, and acted professionally in New York City. She broke new ground by directing, staging, and casting most of her own plays. She also directed several plays written by others. Rachel’s plays often dealt with social themes and moral problems affecting women in the 20th century, including issues such as the double standard, trial marriages, divorce, and Freudianism.

She established a number of philanthropic groups to improve the welfare of her theatrical colleagues: the United Theatre Relief Committee, the Stage Relief Fund, the Stage Women’s War Relief Fund, and the American Theatre Wing for War Relief. According to her biography on Literature Online, Rachel “distinguished herself as one of the most significant American playwrights of the early twentieth century and as an influential force in the development of modern American drama….”

On April 25, 1939, Rachel Crothers was awarded the Chi Omega sorority national achievement award by Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt (Eleanor Roosevelt). This national achievement gold medal award is given “to an American woman of notable accomplishments in the professions, public affairs, art, letters, business and finance, or education.” (Pantagraph, April 26, 1939)

She died in her Danbury, Connecticut home in 1958.

External links

*imdb name|name=Rachel Crothers|id=0189405
* [http://www.bloomingtonlibrary.org/find/community_information/famous_residents/rachel_crothers/ Rachel Crothers at Bloomington Public Library]

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