Published/Performed: 1946 (novel); Feb 18, 1948 - Jan 6, 1951 (play performed at Alvin Theatre, NY)
Author: Thomas Heggen
Born: Dec 23, 1918 Fort Dodge, IA
Passed: May 19, 1949 New York City, NY
Film: Mister Roberts
Thomas Heggen (23 December 1918, Fort Dodge, Iowa ? 19 May 1949, New York City, New York) was an American author best known for his 1946 novel Mister Roberts and its adaptations to stage and screen.
Heggen based his novel on his experiences aboard the USS Virgo (AKA-20) and the USS Rotanin (AK-108) in the South Pacific during World War II, and began the book as a collection of short stories. It was subsequently adapted as a play circa 1948, a feature film , a television series, and a television movie. Sadly, Heggen did not live to enjoy the success and profits of his creation, as his life was ended, by accident or suicide, before the age of 30.
The Roberts character was based the Rotanin Executive Officer, Donald House. Contrary to the story most are familiar with, he was not killed in action, but continued as a career Naval officer until retirement, and lived until early 1998.
Initially, Ensign Ralph (changed to "Frank" in the book) Pulver threatened to sue Heggen for using his actual name. Pulver was, in reality, an officer who took his Naval career very seriously. Pulver was still an active-duty officer at the time the book was published, and was concerned that having his name in the book and play might be detrimental to his career.
The play, Mister Roberts, opened on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre on February 18, 1948, starring Henry Fonda, David Wayne, Robert Keith and Jocelyn Brando who replaced Eva Marie Saint before the show opened. Logan's brother-in-law, William Harrigan, played the Captain. The original production also featured Harvey Lembeck, Ralph Meeker, Steven Hill, Lee Van Cleef and Murray Hamilton. Fonda got out of a Hollywood film contract in order to star in the Broadway theatre stage production, and won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. The production ran for 1,157 performances. Tyrone Power starred in the London company. John Forsythe appeared in a national touring production.
The 1955 film, Mister Roberts, was directed by John Ford and Mervyn LeRoy, and starred Henry Fonda as Mister Roberts. It was nominated for the Best Picture and Best Sound, Recording (William A. Mueller) Oscars; Jack Lemmon received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.Read article at Wikipedia
Featured Cast (Names and Roles) of the Film Mister Roberts: