Morrie Ryskind (born Morris Ryskind 20 October 1895 in New York City, New York, USA - 24 August 1985 in Washington, DC), was a Jewish-American Hollywood and Broadway writer, lyricist, and director. He collaborated with the famous George S. Kaufman on many Broadway hits, and wrote or co-wrote many of the Marx Brothers' screenplays.
His Broadway shows included:
- Merry-Go-Round (1927) (co-lyricist and bookwriter with Howard Dietz to music by Henry Souvaine and Jay Gorney
- Animal Crackers (1929) (co-bookwriter with George S. Kaufman to music and lyrics by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby and starring the Marx Brothers)
- Ned Wayburn's Gambols (1929) - revue - (lyricist with music by Walter G. Samuels)
- Strike Up the Band (1930) (bookwriter with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin)
- The Gang's All Here (1931) (contributing bookwriter)
- Of Thee I Sing (1933) (co-bookwriter with George S. Kaufman to music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin) - Pulitzer Prize of Drama
- Let 'Em Eat Cake (1934 sequel to "Of Thee I Sing") (co-bookwriter with George S. Kaufman to music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin)
- Louisiana Purchase (1941) (bookwriter to music and lyrics by Irving Berlin)
- The Lady Comes Across (1942) (director)
His movies included:
- The Cocoanuts (1929) (starring the Marx Brothers)
- Animal Crackers (1930) (starring the Marx Brothers)
- A Night at the Opera (1935) (starring the Marx Brothers)
- My Man Godfrey (1936)
- Stage Door (1937)
- Room Service (1938) (starring the Marx Brothers)
Ryskind was something of a socialist in his youth, but frustrated by the left's apparent sympathy for communism and disturbed by Roosevelt seeking an unprecedented 3rd term, Morrie abandoned the Democratic party for the Republican party, even going so far as the write the Wendell Willkie campaign song.
Later, he found the tactics and the slavish devotion to Stalin by Hollywood communists so appalling he appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to detail their activities. For this he was blacklisted, and never sold another script.
He went on to become an articulate promoter of conservatism with a feature column in the LA Times. He was even a member of the John Birch Society for a short time but disassociated himself from the group when they started to claim that Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower were part of the Soviet conspiracy. His son, Allan H. Ryskind, was the longtime editor of the conservative Washington weekly, Human Events.
- George Kaufman et al., Kaufman & Co.: Broadway Comedies, Laurence Maslon, ed. (New York: The Library of America, 2004) ISBN 1931082677. Includes The Royal Family (1927, with Edna Ferber); Animal Crackers (1928, with Morrie Ryskind); June Moon (1929, with Ring Lardner); Once in a Lifetime (1930, with Moss Hart); Of Thee I Sing (1931, with Morrie Ryskind and Ira Gershwin); You Can't Take it With You (1936, with Moss Hart); Dinner at Eight (1932, with Edna Ferber); Stage Door (1936, with Edna Ferber); The Man Who Came To Dinner (1939, with Moss Hart).