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Kansas and the Oscars - March 6, 2015

This polychrome-lithographed lobby card advertises the film "Splendor in the Grass." The screenplay for the 1961 film was written by William Inge and based on his personal experience growing up in Independence, Kan. Inge won an Academy Award for this film. (Image Courtesy of Kansas Historical Society / kansasmemory.org)

Q: William Inge (rhymes with binge) was born in Independence, Kan., and grew up to become a famous playwright. The University of Kansas graduate even won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. In fact, his Oscar statuette now resides at KU. What’s the name of the screenplay for which Inge received his Oscar in 1961?


A: Splendor in the Grass 

In the four decades since Oscar recipient William Inge's death, the statuette that symbolizes his success has resided in the building that houses the University of Kansas theater program. Inge received an Academy Award in 1961 for Best Original Screenplay for Splendor in the Grass, a story of sexual repression. Inge was born in Independence, Kan., in 1913. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1935, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech and Drama. For at least the last decade of his life, Inge suffered from depression and, in 1973, at the age of 60, he committed suicide. After his death, his Oscar went to live at his alma mater, where it is brought out several times a year for special occasions. 

<< To see more photos of the Oscar, and to read more about KU’s William Inge Memorial Theatre at Murphy Hall, visit the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences blog. >>

Aside from Splendor in the Grass, Inge produced a number of critically-acclaimed plays, including Bus Stop and Picnic (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize). Like Splendor, these other two plays were turned into Hollywood movies. Inge is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery in his hometown of Independence, Kan. His headstone reads simply, "Playwright."

Fun Factoid: William Inge worked for a while as a newscaster in Wichita!
 

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