Tad Mosel

Tad Mosel

Tad Mosel (May 1, 1922, Steubenville, Ohio - August 24, 2008, Concord, New Hampshire) was an American playwright whose play "All the Way Home" won a Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1961. During the 1950s, he was one of the leading dramatists creating hour-long teleplays for live television.

Although he was born George Ault Mosel Jr., his parents, George Ault Mosel and Margaret Norman Mosel, began calling him Tad while he was an infant. Raised as a Presbyterian, he was eight years old when his father's wholesale grocery business went bankrupt after the stock market crash, and the family moved from Steubenville to the New York suburbs. In 1931, George Mosel, Sr. launched a successful New York advertising company. Remembering his youth in Larchmont and New Rochelle, Tad Mosel stated::My brother and I were given a sense of security. My brother is four years older than I am. We had a good, wonderful home. I had a marvelous mother and father... I adored my mother and father. They were both wonderful parents.

His interest in theater began in 1936 when he saw Katharine Cornell on Broadway in George Bernard Shaw's "Saint Joan". He went for one year to the Mount Hermon School in Northfield, Massachusetts, graduating from New Rochelle High School. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mosel dropped out of Amherst College to enlist in the Army. During World War II, he was a Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Weather Service (1943-46) as a weather observer, including one year in the South Pacific. In the post-WWII years he finished at Amherst and did graduate studies at the Yale Drama School (BA), followed by a Master's at Columbia University. He was writing plays while auditioning as an actor, and in 1949 he was on Broadway in the scene-stealing, non-speaking role of a confused private in the farce, "At War With the Army".


His first teleplay was performed on "Chevrolet Tele-Theater" in 1949. During the early 1950s, he became a leading scripter for live television dramas, contributing six teleplays to "Goodyear Television Playhouse" (in 1953-54), two to "Medallion Theatre" (1953-54) and four to "Playhouse 90" (1957-59). He also wrote for "The Philco Television Playhouse" (1954), "Producers' Showcase" and "Studio One". After Eileen Heckart appeared in his 1953 play about a troubled marriage, "The Haven" (on "Philco Television Playhouse"), Mosel and Heckart became friends, and he wrote several scripts especially for her, including the 1953 "Other People's Houses" (on "Goodyear Television Playhouse") about a housekeeper caring for her senile father. [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/arts/television/26mosel.html?ref=obituaries Weber, Bruce. "Tad Mosel, Dramatist, Dies at 86," "The New York Times", August 26, 2008.] ]

In 1997, Mosel recalled::Paddy Chayefsky, Horton Foote, Sumner Locke Elliott, JP Miller and all of the group of writers that I knew, we grew up at the same time, and our eyes were on the theater. That was the Emerald City. That was the goal. Now, television came on after World War II, and television was a pauper. It had no money. No "self-respecting writer" would deign to write for television. Even drunken screenwriters wouldn't write for television. So who was there left? It was us. It was kids who would work for 65 cents. And so with a very patronizing attitude you thought, "Well, if I could make a few bucks doing that, it would give me time to write the great American play." It didn't take too much experience to realize that television was a medium all in itself, and that it was a career all in itself, and it was a thrilling one. But we stumbled into it by being snobs if I may say so. They would give anyone a chance. I look back on it, and I think, "Weren't we lucky to be there?" Because it was pure luck that we were there... It was the stillness before you went on the air that was so dramatic because everybody would be in place in plenty of time, but everybody would be silent. Nobody talking, nobody moving--the hands on the keys but not moving. The only thing moving was the second hand on the big clock, and then when it hit the top everybody started to move. It was very dramatic, that peace, that calm before you took the dive into it. It was a great thrilling moment and you suddenly loved every actor, and you just wanted them all to be rich and have children and go to happy graves. [http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=CA475D589512DB6C Archive of American Television: Tad Mosel] ]


Mosel's "All the Way Home" premiered in New York November 30, 1960, at the Belasco Theater to critical acclaim. In addition to winning a 1961 Pulitzer Prize, the play was nominated for a Tony Award. A stage adaptation of James Agee's novel "A Death in the Family", it dramatizes the reactions of a Tennessee family to the father's accidental death in the summer of 1915. The play was also performed several times on television--in 1963, 1971 and 1981. In Denmark it was known as "I havn" and directed for Danish television by Clara Østø in 1959.


The movie adaptation of "All The Way Home" (1963) was filmed in the same Knoxville, Tennessee neighborhood where Agee grew up. Directed by Alex Segal, it starred Robert Preston, Jean Simmons and Pat Hingle.

Mosel wrote screenplays for the films "Dear Heart", starring Glenn Ford and Geraldine Page (with Mosel seen in a cameo appearance as "Man in Lobby") and the popular "Up the Down Staircase", based on the novel by Bel Kaufman and starring Sandy Dennis.

He also nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series for an episode of "The Adams Chronicles", a PBS drama series based on the lives of presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams and their families.

Many of Mosel's plays for television are available for viewing at The Paley Center for Media in New York City and Los Angeles.


His plays were collected in "Other People's Houses: Six Television Plays" (1956). In 1978, he co-authored (with Gertrude Macy) the biography "Leading Lady: The World and Theater of Katharine Cornell".


Mosel's death at age 86 of esophageal cancer came after 18 years of residency at Havenwood-Heritage Heights, a Concord, New Hampshire retirement community where he often lectured. He was predeceased by his partner, McCall's graphic designer Raymond Tatra. Mosel and Tatra remained a couple for four decades until Tatra's 1995 death. Mosel's $100,000 gift to Havenwood-Heritage Heights will go to finance an auditorium, Tad's Place, for future speakers to the community. [ [http://concordmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080827/NOCOMMENTING/808270303 Sanger-Katz, Margot. "Mosel Prized by Community," "Concord Monitor", August 27, 2008.] ]


External links

* [http://www.curtainup.com/allthewayhome.html Curtain Up: "All the Way Home": review by Elyse Sommer]
* [http://www.emmys.org/foundation/archive/vault/fal1998/page3.html The Vault: "For the Record: Tad Mosel" (Fall, 1998)]
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5591063837030633859&q=%22archive+of+american+television+interview+with+tad+mosel%22&total=13&start=0&num=50&so=2&type=search&plindex=0 Archive of American Television: Tad Mosel interviewed by Michael Rosen]

NAME=Mosel, Tad
SHORT DESCRIPTION=American playwright
DATE OF BIRTH=1 May 1922
PLACE OF BIRTH=Steubenville, Ohio, USA
PLACE OF DEATH=Concord, New Hampshire, USA

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