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Brief Biographical / Historical Sketch

Biography

Phillip Hart Dunning [December 11, 1892 (One source, The Biographical Encyclopedia and Who’s Who of the American Theatre, 1966, lists 1891 as Dunning’s birth date.) – July 20, 1968], playwright, producer, director, stage manager, and as a young man also an actor, began a long theatrical career in 1910 as assistant manager with a small part in Pomander Walk (Script not included in Dunning collection.). He wrote his first play, Dollar Bill, in 1915. He is best known as the co-author and co-director, with George Abbott, of the 1926 hit, Broadway, and his collaboration as author, producer, or director with Abbott continues into the 1930s, including Lilly Turner (1932), the Hecht-MacArthur play, Twentieth Century (1932), Heat Lightning (1933), The Drums Begin (1933), and Kill That Story (1934) which he wrote with Harry Madden. Without Abbott, Dunning produced Page Miss Glory (1930), written with Joseph Schrank and produced with Lawrence Schwab, Remember the Day (1935), which he wrote and produced with Philo Higley, and his final Broadway production, Schoolhouse on the Lot (1938), which he also directed. Dunning had begun to write screen plays some ten years earlier, and he continues to write for the movies until at least 1948, adapting many of the Broadway plays with which he had been associated to the screen. In the 1950’s and 1960’s he turned his craftsmanship to television. He was also a regular Variety by-liner, and for a short time, 1960-1963, edited the Dramatists Bulletin, organ of the Dramatists Guild. Although a prolific writer, he published only one play, Sequel to a Verdict (1963). When he died in 1968 at age 76, he left a completed play, also with a courtroom setting, A Fantastic Chain of Events, based on the Kennedy assassination. Among his survivors was his brother, Caesar Dunn, also a playwright.