Ring Lardner Jr., the son of the famous journalist and humorist, Ring Lardner, was born on August 19, 1915. After being educated at Princeton University he became a reporter on the New York Daily Mirror.
Lardner moved to Hollywood where he worked as a publicist and script doctor before writing his own material. This included Woman of the Year, a film that won an Academy Award for the best screenplay in 1942. Other notable scripts include Laura (1944), Brotherhood of Man (1946) and Forever Amber (1947).
Lardner held strong left-wing views and during the Spanish Civil War he helped raise funds for the Republican cause. He was also involved in organizing anti-fascist demonstrations. Although his political involvement upset the owners of the film studios, he continued to be given work and in 1947 became one of the highest paid scriptwriters in Hollywood when he signed a contract with Fox at $2,000 a week.
After the Second World War the House of Un-American Activities Committee began an investigation into the Hollywood Motion Picture Industry. In September 1947, the HUAC interviewed 41 people who were working in Hollywood. These people attended voluntarily and became known as "friendly witnesses". During their interviews they named several people who they accused of holding left-wing views.
Lardner appeared before the HUAC on October 30, 1947, but like Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Albert Maltz, Adrian Scott, Dalton Trumbo, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Samuel Ornitz and John Howard Lawson, he refused to answer any questions. Known as the Hollywood Ten, they claimed that the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution gave them the right to do this. The House of Un-American Activities Committee and the courts during appeals disagreed and all were found guilty of contempt of Congress and Lardner was sentenced to twelve months in Danbury Prison and fined $1,000. Lardner was sacked by Fox on October 28, 1947.
Blacklisted by the Hollywood studios, Lardner worked for the next couple of years on the novel, The Ecstasy of Owen Muir (1954). He also wrote under several pseudonyms before the blacklist was lifted. Lardner's later work included The Cincinnati Kid (1965), MASH (1970), for which he won another Academy Award, and The Greatest (1977). Ring Lardner Jr died on October 31, 2000.