Paul Armstrong


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(1869–1915), playwright. Born in Kidder, Missouri, he began his writing career as a journalist, and, when he turned to playwriting, he often wrote plays to order, quickly turning out claptrap melodramas created for second-rate touring companies. Some of his plays were written for New York, and several received respectful attention. Significantly, his biggest hits seemed to be either adaptations of good stories or collaborations: Salomy Jane (1907), derived from Bret Harte's Salomy Jane's Kiss; the comedy Going Some, written with Rex Beach, about two imposters at a race; and his most notable work, Alias Jimmy Valentine (1910), a tale of a reformed crook based on an O. Henry story. With Wilson Mizner he wrote two popular dramas, The Deep Purple (1911), an early realistic treatment of the underworld, and The Greyhound (1912), a tough-fibered play about a transatlantic cardsharp. Among Armstrong's other plays were The Superstition of Sue (1904); The Heir to the Hoorah (1905); Via Wireless (1908), written with Winchell Smith; Society and the Bulldog (1909); The Escape (1913); The Bludgeon (1914); and The Heart of a Thief (1914). Although Armstrong's plays usually had a hard veneer, H. L. Mencken remembered him as “a very sentimental man [who] often shed tears at his own dinner table over the sufferings of the heroines of his plays.”

From The Oxford Companion to American Theatre in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Theatre.

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