Viña Delmar

Viña Delmar (29 January 1903 to 19 January 1990) was born Alvina Croter, the daughter of Charles Crotes and Jennie E (Guerin) Croter, a couple active in vaudeville. She did not attend high school, but worked as an usher and a typist. She published her first novel Bad Girl in April 1928. The success of her fiction, her snappy writing style and perhaps her notoriety earned her what would in effect be a one-way ticket to Hollywood, where she worked on some screenplays but also managed to continue writing fiction.

Several films were based on Delmar stories (and a novel, in the case of Bad Girl). Delmar also wrote the screenplay for Leo McCarey’s The Awful Truth (1937), starring Irene Dunne and Cary Grant, and Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow (1937), which evidently impressed screenwriter Kogo Noda, who with Yasujiro Ozu wrote the script of Ozu’s Tokyo Monogatari that developed a story along similar lines (1953).

After The Awful Truth, she and her partner-in-crime husband got out of the scenario business entirely. Her husband was radio-announcer Eugene Delmar (1899-1952); their son Gray Delmar (1924-66) was involved in television production (including directing), and died in accident at the Bridgehampton (automobile) Race Circuit on Long Island. Delmar’s Becker Scandal (1968) is autobiographical; her first novel is possibly autobiographical, as well.

(drawn from IMDb, New York State Literary Tree, etc. No claim to completeness here, just to suggest Delmar’s productivity.

The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey, dir., 1937, from play by Arthur Richman)
Make Way for Tomorrow (Leo McCarey, dir., 1937)

Several films were based on her stories (see Delmar’s filmography at INMDb). These include Sadie McKee (Clarence Brown, dir., 1934), with Joan Crawford; wikipedia gives a thorough plot summary, good viewer comments at INMDb. Based on these accounts, the film appears to depart markedly from Delmar’s story, which appeared in Liberty Magazine in 1933.

(drawn from LC Catalog and other sources; these leave out stories in magazines)

  1. Bad Girl (Harcourt, Brace, 1928; Avon #81, 1946; Avon #AT51, n.d. (1953?))
  2. Kept Woman (Harcourt, Brace, 1929; Avon #121, 1947); same as The Other Woman (London: Philip Allan & Co., 1934)?
  3. Loose Ladies (Harcourt, Brace, 1929; Avon #92, 1946); published in London (Philip Allan & Co., 1929, as Women Who Pass By
  4. Women Live Too Long (Harcourt, Brace, 1932; Avon #145 (entitled The Restless Passion), 1947)
  5. The Marriage Racket (Harcourt, Brace, 1933; Avon #107, 1946)
  6. The End of the World (1934). A Perfect Love Story by the Author of Bad Girl. Reprint of a complete novel that was originally published in Cosmopolitan Magazine. 54 pages.
  7. New Orleans Lady (Avon #209, 1949)
  8. About Mrs. Leslie (Harcourt, Brace, 1950; Pocket Books #838, 1951 — Their trips to Florida were the kind every woman dreams of.)
  9. The Rich, Full Life, a play in three acts (Samuel French, 1946)
  10. The Love Trap (Avon original #189, 1949; originally titled Family on Yellow Rose Farm — will examine)
  11. Strangers in Love (Dell Book 9, 1951?)

    from back cover —
    You can’t look up my past in the Racing Form—you don’t know a thing about me.

    and —
    A trip to California in the company of a total stranger was all it took for Kathleen to scatter the well-planned years of her life to the winds — abandon her intended at the church door — and marry a total stranger whom she insanely adored. It started an exciting life of luxury completely dependent on the fleet hoofs of a racehorse.

    Story reprinted from The American Magazine (c1940)

  12. You’ll Marry Me at Noon, a complete-in-one-issue novel in Ladie’s Home Journal January 1945. )

    Includes a striking illustration by Norman Rockwell.

  13. New Orleans Lady (Avon #209), 1949.

    Avon Reprint Edition 1949; I’ll Take My Stand 1947 (magazine publication?)

    front cover —
    She dared to hide the secret of her love-bargain behind a mask of glamour.

    back cover —
    She offered her love to protect him. ¶ The Frenchwoman Eulalie de Ronciere was the most sought-after lady in New Orleans. But though she smiled on Louisiana's most handsome suitors, her heart belonged to only one man—Andre. And when the gallant youth slipped away without her knowledge to join the army, Eulalie swore that she would not rest until she had made sure he would come to no danger. The story of her plotting is the story of a beautiful woman who offered everything, even herself, as the price of a young man’s safety. ¶ There were many men who tried to win that fair prize. Some were wealthy, lke Lorenz Renault, who offered a fortune in bribery. Some were military, like Anthony Markland, who pitted his fierce desires against his sense of duty. Through the salons and ballrooms of New Orleans, Eulalie moved like a restless vision of romance while about her a world was crumbling. Vina Delmar’s New Orleans Lady is a tender and moving story of a beauty's bargain for romance.

  14. The Marcaboth Women (Harcourt, Brace, 1951; Pocket Books #915 (entitled Ruby), 1952 — The story of a willful wife who used love as a weapon)

    Published in Brazil in 1952 with the title As Senhoras Marcaboth. My copy, which bears marks of having been a library copy, is without its title page.

  15. The Laughing Stranger (Harcourt, Brace, 1953; Avon, 1969)

    New Jersey coast resort in the days immediately following the Civil War, the haunting story of a star-crossed family and the heartless rebel beauty who suddenly appears in their midst to change the course of all their lives. Mystery surrounds her, they opened the empty house for her, claiming to be Connie Coberley’s wife.

  16. Midsummer, a comedy in three acts (Samuel French, 1954); first performed NYC 1953 (earlier copyright 1947)
  17. Beloved (Harcourt, Brace, 1956; Dell #F69, 1958; Dell 0532, 1965)

    Published in German as Geliebtes Herz in 1960 (Diana Verlag Stuttgart-Konstanz); cover illustration by W. Neufeld

    A historical novel concerning Judah P. Benjamin and his lovely and notoriously unfaithful wife Nathalie. Benjamin (1811-84) was a lawyer and politician, member of the cabinet of President Jefferson Davis; he moved to England after the Civil War, where he was a successful lawyer in London; he died in Paris. More at wikipedia where, incidentally, this novel is not listed in the section representation in fiction.

  18. The Breeze from Camelot (Harcourt, Brace, 1959)
  19. Warm Wednesday, a comedy in three acts (Samuel French, 1960, c1959)
  20. The Big Family (Harcourt, Brace, 1961)
  21. The Enchanted (Harcourt, Brace & World, 1965)
  22. Grandmère (Harcourt, Brace & World, 1967; Dell #3021, 1968)
  23. The Becker Scandal: A Time Remembered (Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968)
  24. The Freeways (Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1971)
  25. Anatomy of Spanish (1973, privately published in a stated edition of 150 numbered copies; my own copy is unnumbered)

    I have absolutely no credentials for writing this book, the author begins, in her prefatory Warning to Potential Consumer. Native and developed talent was always Viña Delmar's credential.

  26. A Time for Titans (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974)
  27. McKeever (Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1976)

The assertion on wikipedia that After the death of her husband [1956], Delmar ceased to be productive as a writer is unfounded.

These notes on Viña Delmar (1903-90) grow out of my discussion of the film Cynthia (1947), based on her playscript The Rich, Full Life (1946) and story Time of Her Life (1944). A hardware store figures in both film and the play.

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Viña Delmar (life)

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