Another Writer in the Family: Alan Baer Green

In many ways the life of my cousin Josephine Baer parallels that of her sister Amanda.  As I wrote here, Josephine Baer married Morris Alon Green in January, 1906.  Their son Alan Baer Green was born less than eleven months later.  They were living in Pittsburgh.  In 1918 Morris was an executive with the Crucible Steel Company in Pittsburgh.  In 1925, they were living in New York City, and Morris was working as a manager.  In 1930, they were still living in New York, and Morris listed his occupation as “financial.”  Their son Alan was working in advertising.

In 1931, Alan married Gladys Bun, and they had three sons in the late 1930s.  Although Alan continued to work in the advertising field, like his first cousin Justin Baer Herman, he also became a successful writer.  As reported in his obituary, Alan wrote “Love on the Run,” which became a movie starring Clark Gable and Joan Crawford in 1936.  It is a screwball comedy about two competing newspaper reporters covering the wedding of a socialite.

Love on the Run poster

He also wrote several other books during the 1930s, primarily mysteries, sometimes written under the pseudonym Roger Denbie (co-written with Julian Paul Brodie), sometimes as Glen Burne (co-written with his wife Gladys).

Alan’s parents are listed in the 1938 directory for Los Angeles, so I thought perhaps they had all moved out to Hollywood, but Alan himself is not listed in that directory.  And by 1940, all three were listed as living in New York City in the census.

Josephine Baer and Morris Green 1940 US census Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2655; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 31-1349

Josephine Baer and Morris Green 1940 US census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2655; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 31-1349

On the 1940 census, Morris and Josephine were living on East 77th Street, and Morris was retired.  Alan and Gladys and their three sons, ages 2, 1, and eleven months, were living on East 86th Street. They had two nurses living with them.  Alan listed his occupations as “author” and “advertising.”

Alan Baer Green and family 1940 US census Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2658; Page: 61B; Enumeration District: 31-1454

Alan Baer Green and family 1940 US census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2658; Page: 61B; Enumeration District: 31-1454

During World War II, Alan served on the War Writers Board, a privately established organization that worked with the government to create propaganda to promote the war effort.  The US Holocaust Museum had this information about the War Writers Board:

Two days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., proposed organizing the nation’s writers as civilians “under arms” to promote the war effort. A month later, a group of prominent American authors formed the Writers’ War Board, a private association partially supported by government subsidy. The board coordinated more than 2,000 writers in diverse activities including slogans, poster contests, syndicated articles, poems, radio plays, dramatic skits, government publications, books, advertisements, and war propaganda. In May 1942 and 1943, the board sponsored anniversary observances of the Nazi book burnings to keep alive the connection between the destruction of books and the consequences of intolerance.

Alan and Gladys had moved to Westport, Connecticut, by 1943, where they would live for more than thirty years.  After the war Alan was a founder of the Writers Board for World Government, an outgrowth of the War Writers Board formed to promote peace through a “world federation” of all nations.

In 1950, Alan won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his book, What A Body, which was selected as the best first mystery novel of that year. [1] It is a murder mystery involving a police officer who falls for the niece of the murder victim.

What a Body by Alan Baer Green

On December 9, 1954, Morris Green died at age 79 in Atlantic City, where he and Josephine were then living.  A year later Josephine established a scholarship in his name at the University of Pittsburgh; as reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, although Morris himself did not have much formal education, he “was always devoted to the higher ideals of higher education.”

Morris Green scholarship

 

At some point after Morris’ death, Josephine moved closer to her son Alan in Connecticut.  Alan continued to write.  One of his best known books, Mother of Her Country, was published in 1973. It was subtitled, “A Comic Novel about Pornography and Censorship.” Kirkus Review wrote the following about it:

A clean joke about porn which doesn’t run to more than one line but tells you something about publishing in general (Mr. Green was around in it for quite some time) and censorship and those not too fine distinctions to be made between words whether they appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary or Macbeth. Laura Conroy, a vestal virgin from the Midwest comes to New York to get a job in the book business which she does — with a small press — to the consternation of her mother who is the Carry Amelia Nation of something called the Americans for Clean Entertainment. There’s a court case and a tacked on coda re a rediscovered journal as to where George Washington might really have slept but the story’s not really much more than a stretcher to fill the space between brou and haha — however cheerful and sensible its reprimand.

Mother of Her Country by Alan Green

Two years later, Alan Baer Green died on March 10, 1975.  He was 68 years old.  He was survived not only by his wife and three sons, but also by his mother Josephine, who was almost 97 years old. Alan Baer Green obit NYTimes March 11 1975-page-001

 

Josephine died in August, 1975, less than six months after the death of her son.

So how did Josephine’s life parallel that of her sister Amanda? No, she didn’t marry her sister’s widower and raise two nephews.  But like Amanda, she raised a son who grew up to be a successful writer.  Like Amanda, she survived her husband by many years, 28 for Amanda, 21 for Josephine.  Like Amanda, she lived a long life.  Amanda was 89 when she died, Josephine was 97.

 

 

[1] I am not sure how he qualified for this as it seems he had already written and published several mystery novels by that time, but perhaps those didn’t count for some reason.

19 thoughts on “Another Writer in the Family: Alan Baer Green

  1. I love watching old movies and immediately went to request this one from the library. They don’t have it! I have been known to buy something I want to watch/listen to/read and then donate it to the library. Will need to see if I can get my hands on a copy. Nice post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I looked and it’s not on Netflix. I don’t even have a VCR or DVD player anymore except on my computer. Amazon sells a DVD, but I think I will also check my library. I did order one of his books though!

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  2. Amy, your family just keeps getting more and more interesting. A published writer with eventual movies. And you with a novel in the works. What are you writing about, or are we going to have to wait? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not surprisingly, it’s a family history-based novel. I am writing about my grandparents, but it is 90% fiction woven around the few facts I know about their childhoods and teen years.

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  3. While there is a few distant writers in my family the closest I have is Tennessee Williams who is a 5th cousin. Always wanted to be an author. If you want a TV program, movie, and of course a book you need a writer. They make the magic happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How fun to have authors in your family. I’ve always thought about families of movie/TV stars and wondered how they feel when they see them on the screen after they’re gone – proud, I’m sure, but also probably very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: The Legacy of Flora Baer Adler | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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