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Name Yorck, Ruth
Born / Died 1904–1966

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German-born playwright and novelist Ruth Yorck (1904 - 1966) began her career as an actress in her native land before moving to the United States in the 1930s where she found success as a writer.

Born Ruth Landshoff in Berlin, Germany on January 4, 1904, she was from a middle-class family and counted the publisher Samuel Fischer as her uncle. She attended acting school. Landshoff became known to many in the burgeoning German film industry and her friendship with F.W. Murnau led to her casting as Lucy in his 1922 masterpiece Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens . She later worked alongside Marlene Dietrich at the Theater an der Josefstadt in 1927, and according to some sources, recommended Dietrich for the role of Lola Lola in 1930’s Der Blaue engel (The Blue Angel) .

By that time, Landshoff had married banker Friedrich David Yorck von Wartenburg, a descendant of a prominent Prussian family, and had turned to writing. Her first novel, Das Wehrhafte Mädchen was published in 1929 and was quickly followed by the best-selling Die Vielen und der Eine/The Many and the One (1930). Because of her Jewish roots and the rise of the Nazi Party, she fled Germany and settled in France in 1933. She later moved to England, then Switzerland, before finally settling in the United States in 1937.

In 1939, Yorck collaborated with San Francisco newspaperman Dean Southern Jennings on the controversial novel The Man Who Killed Hitler (Putnam, 1939). That novel was published anonymously in Great Britain and even led to the kidnapping of publisher George Palmer Putnam by two German-speaking men who demanded he halt future publications of the book.

During World War II, Yorck was employed by the United States Office of War Information to work on broadcasts to Germany. In 1944, she published the novel Sixty to Go (J. Messner, Inc.) and followed with Lili Marlene, An Intimate Diary (The Reader Press, 1945) and So Cold the Night (Harper, 1948).

A published poet, Yorck wrote a collection of biographical essays published in German as Klatsch, Ruhm und kleine Feuer (KGVollmoeller, 1963). In addition, she embarked on a career as a playwright, collaborating with Kenward Elmslie on several projects like the unproduced Love’s Game Completed . Yorck was also a benefactress for the famed La MaMa, where several of her plays premiered, including Lullabye for a Dying Man in 1965.

On January 19, 1966, while waiting for the curtain to rise on a matinee performance of Marat/Sade at the Martin Beck Theater (now the Al Hirschfield), Yorck was stricken and died at the age of 62.

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