“In 1928 I lost everything I had, and in 1936 I went broke again. So did most of the other soundly advised people in the county…I lost very little money through extravagance, I regret to say. Most of my losses were the result of the dubious pleasure of remarking over the phone, ‘Yes, go ahead.’”
Imagine your writing career talking off in the 1920s. That’s where playwright/screenwriter Samson Raphaelson found himself after his play The Jazz Singer had a long run on Broadway and then his play was turned into the first talkie film in 1927. You can imagine that for that moment in time life was good for Samson Raphaelson. Then 1928 came along ushering in the Great Depression which lasted more than a decade.
In his book, The Human Nature of Playwriting, Raphaelson said he went broke not once, but twice. His book is based on a class he taught in 1948 at the University of Illinois, and along with his writing advice he gave some practical financial advice to students that is just as valuable today as when he talked about in more than 60 years ago.
“A writer can live anywhere. I myself bought a modest house in the country, where the taxes are low. Ideally, one should live a simple, modest existence and provide for his old age—that is self-evident. I’m trying to tell you how in terms of my temperament and experience.
The Human Nature of Playwriting
I believe at the time Raphaelson taught that one semester class his home was in Pleasant Valley, PA—about 120 miles outside New York City.