Rose was one of the outstanding television playwrights to emerge
from the "Golden Age" of television drama anthology series. Like
his acclaimed contemporaries-- Paddy Chayefsky, Tad Mosel, and Rod
Serling, for example--Rose takes a place in history at the top of
the craft of television writing.
addition to other accolades, Rose was nominated for six Emmy awards
during his career, and won three. Although most of Rose's fame derives
from his teleplays for the live drama anthologies, he wrote a number
of successful screen and stage plays, and went on to create and
write scripts for The Defenders at CBS, as well as winning
recognition for the revived CBS Playhouse in the late 1960s.
first teleplay to be broadcast was The Bus to Nowhere, which
appeared on Studio One (CBS) in 1951. It was the 1954-55
season, however, that gave Rose his credentials as a top writer:
that year has been referred to as "the Reginald Rose season"
at Studio One. His contributions included the noted plays
12:32 a.m., An Almanac of Liberty, Crime in the Streets, as well
as the play that opened the season and became perhaps Rose's most
well-known work, Twelve Angry Men. In addition to winning numerous
awards and undergoing transformation into a feature film, Twelve
Angry Men undoubtedly established Rose's reputation almost immediately
as a major writer of drama for television.
What distinguished Rose's teleplays from those of his colleagues
such as Chayefsky and Serling was their direct preoccupation with
social and political issues. Although the other writers were perhaps
equally concerned with the larger social dimensions of their work,
they concentrated on the conflicts that emerge in private life and
the domestic sphere, and the problems of society as a whole remained
implicit in their writing. Rose, in contrast, tackled controversial
social issues head-on.
In one of his most well-known and contentious plays, Thunder on
Sycamore Street (Studio One, 1953), Rose attempts to confront
the problem of social conformity. In this story, an ex-convict moves
to an up-scale neighborhood in an attempt to make a new beginning.
When his past is discovered, one of neighbors organizes a community
march to drive the ex-convict out of his new home. Rose deals directly
with the issues of mob anger and difference from the norm, issues
of general concern in a time when the pressures of conformity were
overwhelming, and the memory of fascism still prevalent. This play
was controversial from the outset since the central character was
originally written to be an African-American. Rose was forced, under
pressure from Studio One sponsors fearful of offending (and
losing) audiences in the south, to change him into an ex-convict.
This, perhaps more than anything, is indicative of his ability to
touch on the most sensitive areas of American social life of that
Rose kept his sights directed at the scrutiny of social institutions
and mechanisms, his characters were as finely drawn as those writers
who focused on domestic struggles. The tension created by exhausting
deliberations within the confined closeness of the jury room in
which Twelve Angry Men occurs is exemplary in this regard. The remake
of this powerful drama and Paddy Chayefsky's Marty into successful
feature films marked the breakthrough of the television drama aesthetic
into Hollywood cinema. Rose was responsible in part for the creation
of this new approach. This gritty realism that became known as the
"slice of life" school of television drama was for a time the staple
of the anthology shows and reshaped the look of both television
and American cinema.
Photo courtesy of Reginald Rose
ROSE. Born in New York City, New York, U.S., 10 December 1920.
Student at City College (now of the City University of New York),
New York, 1937-38. Married 1) Barbara Langbart, 1943 (divorced);
children: Jonathan, Richard, Andrew and Steven (twins); 2) Ellen
McLaughlin, 1963; children: Thomas and Christopher. Served in U.S.
Army, 1942-46. Writer in television from 1951, starting with CBS,
eventually working for all the major networks; wrote CBS-TV's Studio
One episode "Twelve Angry Men," 1954; wrote and co-produced
Twelve Angry Men film version, 1957, and wrote stage version, 1964;
writer of films from 1956; author of books from 1956; wrote CBS
pilot for series "The Defender," as episode of Studio One,
1957; wrote Emmy nominated "The Sacco-Vanzetti Story" for NBC-TV's
Sunday Showcase, 1960; president of Defender Productions
from 1961; created series and with others wrote The Defenders,
1961-65; wrote Emmy nominated "Dear Friends" for CBS Playhouse,
1967; wrote multiple-award-winning CBS mini-series, Escape From
Sobibor, 1987. President of Reginald Rose Foundation. Recipient:
Emmy Awards 1954, 1962, 1963 (with Robert Thom), 1968; Mystery Writers
of America Edgar Allan Poe Award, 1957; Berlin Film Festival Golden
Berlin Bear Award, 1957; Academy Award Nomination, 1957; Writers
Guild of America Award, 1960; Writers Guild of America Laurel Award,
1958 and 1987. Home address: 20 Wedgewood Rd., Westport, CT 06880.
Office Address: Defender Productions, c/o Philip Plumber, 105-58
Flatlands 5th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11236.
SERIES (various episodes)
1954-57 Studio One
1955 Elgin Hour
1955 Philco Television Playhouse-Goodyear Playhouse
1956 Alcoa Hour-Goodyear Playhouse
1959 Playhouse 90
1960 Sunday Showcase
1961-65 The Defenders (creator and writer)
1967 CBS Playhouse
1975 The Zoo Gang (creator and writer)
1977 The Four of Us (pilot)
1979 Studs Lonigan
1987 Escape From Sobibor
The Rules of Marriage
1986 My Two Loves (with Rita Mae Brown)
in the Streets, 1956; Dino, 1957; Twelve Angry Men,
(also co-produced) 1957; Man of the West, 1958; The Man
In the Net, 1958; Baxter!, 1972; Somebody Killed Her
Husband, 1978; The Wild Geese, 1978; The Sea Wolves,
1980; Whose Life Is It, Anyway? (with Brian Clark), 1981;
The Final Option, 1983; Wild Geese II, 1985.
Black Monday, 1962; Twelve Angry Men, 1964; The
Porcelain Year, 1965; Dear Friends, 1968; This Agony,
This Triumph, 1972.
Television Plays. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1957.
Thomas Book. New York: Harcourt, 1972.
William. The American Television Drama: The Experimental Years.
University, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1986.
Frank. Live Television: The Golden Age of 1946-1958 in New York.
Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1990.
Max. The Golden Age of Television: Notes from the Survivors.
New York: Dell, 1977.