By Vera Caspary
Ad Gal, Fortune Teller, Scriptwriter, Producer, Hit Novelist, Commie sympathizer Vera Caspary lived one hell of a roller coaster life — on her own terms.
Caspary was a natural storyteller and was driven to write, write, write!. At 17 Caspary dropped out of school and was soon writing ad copy and editing magazines. She even “created” mail order correspondence courses, such as the Sergei Marinoff School of Classic Dancing –and other topics she knew zilch about.
In the mid-1920’s she moved to Greenwich Village, quit her job, and began writing a “meaningful” novel. The White Girl in 1929 was about a southern black girl who moves north and passes as white (another expert topic for a nice Jewish girl from NYC). After this surprising hit, a stint editing an entertainment guide provided Caspary with an entree to the theater world and celebrities. Dazzled, Caspary set her sights on plays and short stories that could be sold to Hollywood.
Between the time White Girl was published in 1929 and Laura was published in 1941, Caspary lived a hectic productive vagabond life. Various contracts from Paramount and Fox ( she received writing credit for 11 films) meant shuttling back and forth from NYC to Hollywood. She also wrote 3 more novels and 2 plays. At another point she joined the communist party, took time off to raise money, then traveled to Russian to see communism in action. After that, she decided to quit the party.
By 1941, Caspary was once again laid off by the studio. But she was in love and writing a novel. This time she was writing a mystery, and it was based on something she knew about, a single woman working in an ad agency. She finished the book, Laura, in 1941. She hoped to turn it into a play in 1942, but no one could secure backing. Frustrated and low on funds, she let her agent sell the film rights to 20th Century Fox, at Otto Preminger request, for next to nothing.
Despite the bad business deal for Laura, Caspary’s salary quintupled after its success and she began living the high life in Hollywood. Around 1950 Caspary and her new husband, Igee Goldsmith, formed a production company. But…..they used their own money. Broke again.
Caspary went back to the typewriter. Withing a few months she had made another $150,000. Caspary knew how to care of herself. She never stopped writing again. She died of a stroke in NYC in 1987 at the age of 88.
Very fine. 1943 Houghton Mifflin Book Club edition with original dust jacket. Dust Jacket shows very minimal wear at top of spine (1/8″ or less). Back is ad for war bonds. Very rare copy.