Adapting James Jones’ gigantic novel From Here to Eternity into the 1953 classic may have been one of the most laborious jobs in Hollywood, but not only did Daniel Taradash insist on it, he got Jones’ seal of approval upon the film’s release, and ended up winning an Oscar for it.
Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1913, he went to Harvard, where he studied law, graduating in 1936, before making it in the theatre when his play The Mercy won the Bureau of New Plays contest just two years later. He moved to Hollywood not long after that and received his first credit as one of the writers of Golden Boy (1939, dir. Rouben Mamoulian). A few years later, he served in the US Army, where he also worked in army training films as a writer and producer. Upon his return, he went to New York seeking more theater success, but returned to Hollywood when that failed. He wrote and co-wrote a string of films, including Knock on Any Door (1949, dir. Nicholas Ray), Rancho Notorious (1952, dir. Fritz Lang), Don’t Bother to Knock (1952, dir. Roy Ward Baker) and, more famously, From Here to Eternity (1953, dir. Fred Zinnemann), for which he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay as well as the Writers Guild of America Award. In 1956, he directed Storm Center, a clear anti-censorship and anti-McCarthyism vehicle that, despite Taradash’s best intentions, didn’t have the impact it should have. He went on to write Picnic (1955, dir. Joshua Logan) and Bell, Book and Candle (1958, dir. Richard Quine) and, in 1970, he became President of the Academy, presenting Charlie Chaplin with his Honorary Oscar in 1972, one of the most famous moments in Oscar history. In 1977, he became President of the Writers Guild of America, and in 1996, he received the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement, before passing away in 2003 at the age of 90.