Harriet Frank Jr., Writer of Challenging Screenplays, Dies at 96

Harriet Frank Jr., Writer of Challenging Screenplays, Dies at 96


“Faulkner was uniquely gifted,” Ms. Frank added, perhaps assuaging the guilt. “Also, because he had been a screenwriter himself, he was a very tolerant man where other writers were concerned. He knew what laboring in the field was like. He was very realistic about letting go of his work.”

Harriet Frank was born Harriet Goldstein in Portland, Ore., on March 2, 1923, one of three children of Sam Goldstein, a shoe store owner, and Edith Frances (Bergman) Goldstein, who went by her middle name. Harriet and her brothers, Peter and Marty, attended schools in Portland.

Harriet’s mother, a Berkeley-educated lover of literature, had a Portland radio program, “Frances Frank — Speaking Frankly.” She not only changed the family name to Frank; upon arriving in Hollywood in 1939, she also changed her own given name to that of her daughter, becoming Harriet Frank Sr., and making her teenage daughter Harriet Frank Jr.

The family moved to Los Angeles in 1939. Harriet Frank Sr. became a story editor for MGM, reading books and advising which ones, or which parts, might make good movies. Harriet Frank Jr. and Mr. Ravetch both attended the University of California, Los Angeles, but graduated in different years and did not know each other there.

With her mother’s help, Ms. Frank was hired as a screenwriter trainee at MGM, where she met Mr. Ravetch. They married, and discovered on returning from their honeymoon that they had been fired. They went to Warner Bros., where he became a screenwriter and she wrote dialogue for romances and westerns.

In addition to screenwriting, Ms. Frank wrote scores of stories for The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s and other magazines, and two novels: “Single” (1977), about four women finding and losing love, and “Special Effects” (1979), about a movie studio story editor who keeps her equilibrium when all those around her are falling apart.



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