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John Lee Mahin
John Lee Mahin (August 23, 1902, Evanston, Illinois - April 18, 1984, Los Angeles) was an American screenwriter and producer of films who was active in Hollywood from the 1930s to the 1960s. He was known as the favorite writer of Clark Gable and Victor Fleming. In the words of one profile, he had "a flair for rousing adventure material, and at the same time he wrote some of the raciest and most sophisticated sexual comedies of that period."
Mahin was born in Winnetka, Illinois in 1902, the son of John Lee Mahin, Sr. (1869-1930), a Chicago newspaper and advertising man, and Julia Graham Snitzler.
Mahin attended Harvard University; while there he reviewed movies and plays for the Boston American at $30 a week. Mahin worked as a journalist for two years in New York, at the Sun, the Post and the City News. He then tried to make a living as an actor, starting as a chorus boy in a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience at the Province Playhouse. He eventually moved into advertising in New York but wrote fiction on the side.
Mahin became friendly with Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, who he would meet on the ferry while commuting to work in New York. Hecht read Mahin's stories and encouraged him to move to Hollywood.
It took a while for Scarface to be released but advance word was strong and MGM offered Mahin a long term contract at $200 a week. They assigned him to a gangster film, Beast of the City (1932) which starred Jean Harlow. While working on Howard Hawks asked him to do some uncredited work on Tiger Shark (1932) at Warner Bros; Mahin did it in the evenings.
When Louis B. Mayer left MGM, Mahin went with him. Mayer put Mahin under personal contract, and would loan him out to studios, including MGM.
Mahin wrote the screenplay for Show Boat (1951), the Technicolor remake of the noted 1927 stage musical, which had previously been filmed in 1936. According to musical theatre historian Miles Kreuger in his book, Show Boat: The History of a Classic American Musical, Mahin retained most of the basic structure of the storyline, but little of Oscar Hammerstein II's stage dialogue, preferring to create his own. According to Kreuger, Mahin and producer Arthur Freed introduced the plot device of keeping the lovers Magnolia Hawks and Gaylord Ravenal young to the end, rather than having a passage that showed them forty years older, as in the original stage musical.
Mahin adapted Paint Your Wagon for Mayer but plans to film it were dropped when Mayer died. (It would be filmed in 1969 with a fresh script.) Mahin did do some uncredited work on the Cinerama film, South Seas Adventure (1958).
McCarthy, Todd; McBride, Joseph (1986). "John Lee Mahin: Team Player". In Patrick McGilligan (ed.). Backstory: Interviews with Screenwriters of Hollywood's Golden Age. University of California Press. pp. 241-290.