Dore Schary was one of the first producers to make a film dealing with anti-Semitism. He made the film Crossfire, which was enthusiastically acclaimed by critics. Critic Bosley Crowther wrote, "It boldly comes out and names a canker which festers and poisonously infects the very vitals of American democracy." Many of Schary's films would be about real life in America.
Schary was born on August 31, 1905, in Newark, New Jersey with the name Isadore, which he shortened to Dore when he entered show business. Dore was the son of Herman Hugo and Belle (Drachler) Schary, immigrants from Europe engaged in the hotel and catering business. Schary attended Central High School in Newark, but dropped out of school when he was fourteen. He tried his hand at many jobs before realizing that his educational handicap was preventing him from moving ahead. He returned to Central High to finish his education.
In the middle 1920s, Schary was playing bit parts in New York stage plays with such stars as Paul Muni and Spencer Tracy. When he wasn't working on stage, he was teaching himself to master play writing. His first play to be produced onstage was Too Many Heroes, in 1938. It had a brief run.
Schary had submitted some of his plays to movie producers which resulted in a one-year (1932-33) contract with Columbia Pictures. During this year, he wrote eleven screenplays and established a reputation of being a steady, imaginative and reliable writer. After his contract expired, Schary freelanced for the next seven years. He was the author or co-author of 35 screenplays which included the Oscar-winning script for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production of Boys Town.
In 1941, MGM made him an executive producer. Schary had a theory that "B" pictures were badly made not because of the lowbudget, but because of the poor quality of the story and script. He proved this when he made such hit "B" movies as Journey For Margaret, Bataan, Lassie Come Home and Joe Smith, American.
In the coming years, Schary would be involved in producing many movies which dealt with social issues and problems. He was producing the movie The White Tower, in 1948, when it was suspended after the House Un-American Activities Committee probed alleged communistic influence in the movie industry. Schary was called to testify before the committee. He stated that he would hire people on the basis of ability, regardless of their political ideology, unless the ideology was legally defined as inimical to the state. Most socially conscious pictures being made in Hollywood were all put on hold for many years.
Dore Schary produced or supervised over 250 films in his life. He wrote the Tony Award-winning play Sunrise at Campobello. He was the national chairman of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation League, 1963-69. He received the Thomas Jefferson Award from the Council Against Intolerance in America, in 1948. Schary also received the Golden Slipper Club Award for humanitarianism, 1947
. Dore Schary married Miriam Svet, an artist, on March 5, 1932, and they had three children, Jill, Joy and Jeb. He died on July 7, 1980, in New York City. His achievements in the entertainment industry have earned him many accolades, but he will also be remembered as a fighter against anti-Semitism and for standing up for his principles.
This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.
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