Buffalo Movie History

Al Boasberg
TEXT Beneath Illustrations

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Painting by George Palmer

124 Highland Avenue

Forest Lawn Cemetery

Forest Lawn Cemetery

Boasberg telegram to Bob Hope

Little Miss Muff-it script

Boasberg with Marx Brothers



50 Million Frenchmen

50 Million Frenchmen

50 Million Frenchmen
Dialogue by Al Boasberg

Written by
Willis Goldbeck, Leon Gordon, Edgar Allan Wolf, and Al Boasberg

Chasing Rainbows
One of the writers is Al Boasberg

Chasing Rainbows
One of the writers is Al Boasberg

Date of Birth: 5 December 1892, Buffalo, New York, USA
Date of Death: 18 June 1937, Los Angeles, California, USA (heart attack)
Height: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
Spouse: Roslyn Goldberg (1927 - ?) (separated)

Filmography as Writer

Filmography as Director

The son of a Buffalo jeweler, Al Boasberg established himself in the early twenties as one of the foremost comedy writers in America. Boasberg was kept so busy supplying one-liners and special material to vaudevillians like Burns and Allen and Jack Benny that he ultimately set up a weekly wire service, telegraphing jokes to his scores of clients. It was said that virtually half the acts playing the Loews vaudeville circuit were subsisting on Boasberg's material.

He headed to Hollywood in 1926 to work for Buster Keaton, contributing gags and bits of business for the Keaton classics The General (1926) and College (1927). Seldom did he write an entire screenplay; instead, he was what now would be called a script doctor, punching up and improving the work of other writers. Disdaining the regimen of studio life, Boasberg preferred working at home, sitting in a huge bathtub and firing off jokes into a Dictaphone.

During the talkie era, he contributed extensively to the films of Wheeler and Woolsey and the Marx Brothers; it was he who came up with the celebrated "stateroom scene" for the Marxes' A Night at the Opera (1935).

During this period, he also dabbled in directing, helming several two-reel comedies as well as the 1933 feature Myrt and Marge, which co-starred the Three Stooges.

While employed as a comedy troubleshooter at MGM in 1936, Boasberg signed on as one of the chief writers for Jack Benny's radio show. At the end of the 1936-37 season, Benny offered Boasberg a dream contract, paying the writer $1500 per week merely to be "on call" if needed. Al Boasberg agreed to the deal, shook hands with Benny, then headed home--where he died the next day at the age of 45.

- Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

- The Western New York Entertainment Hall of Fame located in Shea's Buffalo Center for the Performing Arts

Al Boasberg was a top Hollywood comedy writer.

When people laughed at the jokes of Jack Benny, Jimmy Durante, George Burns and Gracie Allen, the Marx brothers, Buster Keaton, Jack Oakie, Marie Dressler, Eddie Cantor, Wheeler and Wolsey, and Harold Lloyd, they were laughing at the creative humorous writing of Al Boasberg.

He was one of the highest paid writers in Hollywood.

- Richard O. Reisem, Field Guide to Forest lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, New York, 1998

Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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