Howard E. Koch

Howard E. Koch, outstanding author of radio scripts, plays and screenplays, was born in New York City and grew up in Kingston, New York. He was a graduate of St. Stephen's College (now Bard College) and received a law degree from Columbia in 1925. While practicing law in Hartsdale, New York he began to write plays. Great Scott (1929), Give Us This Day (1933), and In Time To Come (1941) were produced on Broadway. His radio work in the 1930s as a writer for the CBS Mercury Theater on the Air included the famous Orson Welles radio drama The War Of the Worlds (1938), which caused a nationwide panic for its documentary-like portrayal of an invasion of monsters from the planet Mars.

In 1940 he launched his career in Hollywood, collaborating on the screenplay for The Sea Hawk (1940). Screenplays written since then include The Letter (1940), Sergeant York (1941), Casablanca (1942), Mission to Moscow (1943), Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948) and No Sad Songs for Me (1950). He won an Academy Award for collaboration on the best screenplay of 1942 for Casablanca.

Mission to Moscow eventually led to Koch's blacklisting in 1951. This wartime film, which portrayed Stalin and the Soviet Union positively, ironically was written at the request of President Roosevelt and Jack Warner. As a result of the blacklist, he moved with his family to Europe and eventually took up residence in the United Kingdom with other blacklisted writers where he wrote for five years for film and television under the pseudonyms "Peter Howard" and "Anne Rodney." In 1956, he returned to the United States and settled in Woodstock, New York, where he continued to write screenplays and books and remained actively committed to progressive political and social justice causes. Howard Koch died 1995 in Kingston, New York and is survived by wife, Anne and son, Peter.

Plays by Howard E. Koch