Introduction to Hollywood
It was one of Eustace Cockrell’s short stories that brought him to the attention of Hollywood and the film industry. The fourth of the Refugee Smith boxing tales, “Complements of R. Smith,” appeared in Collier’s, December 28, 1940. This story caught the attention of movie producer Allen Freed who invited Cockrell to assist with writing the dialect for MGM’s Cabin in the Sky, one of the first movies to feature an all-Black cast (1943). MGM later purchased the rights to the Refugee Smith series with the film version, Tennessee Champ, appearing in 1954. Another story by Cockrell, “Rocky’s Rose” (The American Magazine, October 1949) was the basis for MGM’s Fast Company released in 1953. In the mid-1940s Cockrell continued to edit dialogue for movies while under contract with Warner Bros.
Cabin in the Sky is an MGM musical based on the Broadway show by the same name. The movie, directed by Vincent Minnelli, appeared in 1943 and starred Lena Horne, Ethel Waters and Eddie “Rochester” Anderson. Louis Armstrong is also featured along with Duke Ellington. Eustace Cockrell adapted much of the language into Black “dialect” which today is criticized for promoting racial stereotypes. However, in 2020, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
Fast Company is a 1953 comedy directed by John Sturges and starring Howard Keel, Polly Bergen and Nina Foch. Produced by MGM, the screenplay was based on a story by Eustace Cockell, “Rocky’s Rose” published in the The American Magazine (October 1949). It is a story of double-dealing in the horse racing world with a naïve young woman who has inherited her deceased father’s stables eventually outsmarting those seeking to profit from her innocence.
Tennessee Champ is a 1954 movie produced by MGM. Produced by Fred M. Wilcox, the movie stars Shelley Winters, Keenan Wynn, Dewey Martin, and Charles Bronson. (Bronson was one of Eustace Cockrell’s favorite actors with whom to work.) It was one of several MGM films using Ansco Color, a ruddy-looking process employed in the same year for the movie Brigadoon.
The screenplay is loosely based on Cockrell’s first Refugee Smith boxing story, “The Lord in His Corner,” that was published in Collier’s (April 13, 1940). The fighter’s motivation is the belief that he has been called by God to be a boxer, a belief that comes into conflict when he is asked to throw a fight. If Eustace Cockrell has any influence over the director’s outcome, right always wins over might.
In 1953, while writing for Armed Forces Radio, Eustace Cockrell was part of a team nominated for an Academy Award in the documentary (short subject) category. Cockrell was involved in editing the script for Operation Blue Jay, a 28-minute film about the United States’ effort to construct Thule Air Base in Greenland. Thule Air Base started as a secret government project but was made public in 1952. The film, covering construction of the base under the most difficult of weather conditions, was produced by the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
Photos: The 1954 Academy Awards in Los Angeles. Eustace Cockrell (right) with his wife Betty. Cockrell was nominated for an award in the documentary (short subject) category.
By the late 1940s, Eustace Cockrell’s published stories were beginning to sound more like television scripts, an indication that Cockrell understood that the future was in writing for television, not for popular magazines. Three of his later stories were adapted for use as teleplays: “The Power Devil” (The American Magazine, December 1949), “Count of Ten” (The American Magazine, May 1950) and “Just An Ignorant Foreigner” (Collier’s, January 20, 1951).
“Count of Ten,” was developed into a screenplay for The Loretta Young Show by William Kendall Clark (November 5, 1950). The show is featured on YouTube and provides an early example of the relationship between the story and television screenplay. This episode can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/w22s4wfd
“Count of Ten” is featured in Cockrell’s collection of boxing stories, Refugee Smith and Other Stories of the Ring. “The Power Devil,” is included in The Masterpieces of Eustace Cockrell, Vol. II , and “Just An Ignorant Foreigner” is republished in The Lost Stories of Eustace Cockrell, All are available from Amazon https://tinyurl.com/2fnn5krk
The Philco Television Playhouse is an American television anthology series that was broadcast live on NBC from 1948 to 1955. Produced by Fred Coe, the series was sponsored by Philco. It was one of the most respected dramatic shows of the Golden Age of Television, winning a 1954 Peabody Award and receiving eight Emmy nominations between 1951 and 1956.
- “The Power Devil” – Story by Eustace Cockrell and Herb Dalmas. Teleplay by William Kendall Clark (S-3, E-9 – 11/5/1950)
The Loretta Young Show is a television drama anthology series hosted by actress Loretta Young. In addition to hosting the series, she played the lead in various episodes. The series ran from 1953 to 1961. Episodes not featuring Loretta Young were rebroadcast as NBC Playhouse” (1960) with new introductions by Jeanne Bal.
- “Count of Ten” – Story by Eustace Cockrell. Teleplay by William Bruckner (S-1, E-25 – 3/14/1954)
Alfred Hitchcock Presents is an American television anthology series created, hosted and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, aired on CBS and NBC between 1955 and 1965. It features dramas, thrillers and mysteries. Between 1962 and 1965 it was renamed The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Time magazine named Alfred Hitchcock Presents as one of “The 100 Best TV Shows of All Time”. The Writers Guild of America ranked it #79 on their list of the 101 Best-Written TV Series.
- “A Bullet for Baldwin” – Story by Joseph Ruscoll. Teleplay by Eustace Cockrell and Francis M. Cockrell (S-1, E-14 – 1/1/1956)
- “You Got to Have Luck” – Story by S. R. Ross. Teleplay by Eustace Cockrell and Francis M. Cockrell (S-1, E-16 – 1/15/1956)
Damon Runyon Theater is an American television program that presented mostly dramatized versions of Damon Runyon’s short stories. Hosted by Donald Woods, the program, sponsored by Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser beer, aired for a total of 39 episodes on CBS from April 1955 through February 1956.
- “The Good Luck Kid” – Story by Eustace Cockrell. Teleplay by Karen DeWolf (S-2, E-14 – 1/21/1956)
The Web is a television show featuring filmed dramas adapted from writings of the Mystery Writers of America. This is an NBC summer replacement series for The Loretta Young Show that made its debut in 1957 (7/7/57 to 10/6/57). It is related to an earlier series of The Web that featured live dramas based on stories by members of the Mystery Writers of America. (1950 – 1954).
- “No Escape” – Story by Eustace Cockrell. Teleplay by Eustace Cockrell and Francis M. Cockrell (S-1, E-4 – 7/28/1957)
- “Dead Silence” – Written by Eustace Cockrell and Francis M. Cockrell (S-1, E-12 – 9/22/1957)
Man Without a Gun is a television show that highlights the adventures of Adam MacLean, publisher and chief reporter for the Yellowstone Sentinel of Yellowstone, Wyoming in the late 19th century. Adam MacLean disliked guns and attempted to establish peace through the power of the press. There were 52 episodes from 1957 to 1959. The show was distributed by 20th Century Fox.
- “Silent Town” – Story by Eustace and Francis M. Cockrell. Teleplay (by Eustace and Francis M. Cockrell and) Robert Leslie Bellem (S-1, E-5 – 1/15/1958)
- “Man Missing” – Story by Eustace and Francis M. Cockrell. Teleplay by Eustace and Francis M. Cockrell and R. Robert Williams (S-1, E-36 – 6/12/1958)
Target is a 30-minute American television dramatic anthology series featuring horror and suspense. It was produced by ZIV Television Programs, Inc. for first-run syndication. A total of 38 episodes were aired in 1958.
- “The Thirteenth Juror” – Story by Vincent Fortre. Teleplay by Eustace Cockrell and Lee E. Wells (S-1, E-35 – 11/7/1958)
Jefferson Drum portrayed by Jeff Richards, is a crusading newspaper editor in the Old West town of Jubilee. A widower, he rears his son, Joey, played by 10-year-old Eugene Mazzola. An NBC Production, the series ran for 26 episodes beginning in 1958.
- “The Cheater” – Written by Eustace Cockrell (S-1, E-5 – 5/23/1958)
The Walter Winchell File is a television crime drama series that initially aired from 1957 to 1958, dramatizing cases from the New York City Police Department that were covered in the New York Daily Mirror. The series featured columnist and announcer Walter Winchell. Thirty-nine episodes were produced; the first twenty-six aired on ABC during the 1957–1958 season (sponsored by Revlon), and the final thirteen were seen in syndication in 1959.
- “David and Goliath” – Written by Eustace and Francis M. Cockrell (S-1, E-18 – 1/31/1959)
Cheyenne is an American Western television series of 108 black-and-white episodes broadcast on ABC from 1955 to 1962. The show was the first hour-long Western and was the first hour-long dramatic series of any kind, with continuing characters, to last more than one season.
- “The Long Rope” – Teleplay by Eustace Cockrell and Peter Germano. From a novel by William O. Turner (S-5, E-1 – 9/26/1960)
This Man Dawson is a syndicated drama television series that was broadcast from 1959 to 1960. The series stars Keith Andes as a former United States Marine Corps colonel hired to clean up police corruption in an undisclosed American city. The program was partly inspired by Andes’ Universal Studios film, Damn Citizen (1958), in which he played crusading Louisiana State Police Superintendent. It was a production of ZIV Television.
- “Safe Haven” – Written by Eustace Cockrell (S-1, E-13 – 11/18/59)
- “Accessory to Murder” – Written by Eustace Cockrell (S-1, E-24 – 1960)
- “The Bank Robbers” – Written by Eustace Cockrell (S-1, E-33 – 5/19/1960)
- “Sweet Charity” – Written by Eustace Cockrell (S-1, E-39 – 1960)
- “The Bootlegger and the Lady” – Story by Herbert Abbott Spiro. Teleplay by Eustace Cockrell (2/10/60) (Working Title?) (Accessory to Murder)
- “The Impersonation” – Written by Eustace Cockrell (3/18/60) (Working Title?)
- “Arsenic and Tontine” – Written by Eustace Cockrell (1960) (Working Title?)
Two Faces West is a syndicated half-hour western series set in Gunnison, Colorado which ran during the 1960-1961 television season. Charles Bateman starred in the dual role of marshal Ben January and his identical twin brother Dr. Rick January. Although identical twins, both possessed very dissimilar personalities. Marshal January was a man capable of extreme violence and was very fast with his gun. Dr. January was a man of extreme peace and hated violence or so it seemed for as situations dictated, peaceable Dr. January would often masquerade as his marshal brother and prove to be as fast with a gun and as proficient with his fists.
- “The Drought” – Written by Eustace Cockrell (S-1, E-12 – 1/9/1961)
- “The Lesson” – Story by Eustace Cockrell. Teleplay by Gene Roddenberry (S-1, E-30 – 5/ 22/1961)
- “Doctors Orders” – Written by Robert and Wanda Duncan and Eustace Cockrell (S-1, E-33 – 6/5/1961)
Naked City is an American police procedural television series from Screen Gems that aired on ABC from 1958 to 1959 and from 1960 to 1963. It was inspired by the 1948 motion picture The Naked City and continues its dramatic “semi-documentary” format. As in the film, each episode concluded with a narrator intoning the iconic line: “There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.”
- “One of the Most Important Men in the Whole World” – Story by Eustace Cockrell and Howard Rodman. Teleplay by Howard Rodman (S-3, E-19 – 1/18/1962)