Clifford Odets (July 18, 1906 – August 18, 1963) was an American playwright, screenwriter, socialist, and social protester.
Odets's dramatic style is distinguished by a kind of poetic, metaphor-laden street talk, by his socialist politics, and by his way of dropping the audience right into the conflict with little or no introduction. Often character is more important than plot, which Odets attributed to the influence of Anton Chekhov. Odets' plays include Waiting for Lefty (1935), Awake and Sing! (1935), Till the Day I Die (1935), Paradise Lost (1936), and Golden Boy (1937).
Odets was born in the same year as my father: 1906. My father had been a close friend of Odets' cousin, Benny Rossman, who lived in Philadelphia. Odets' biographer describes the Rossman home in North Philadelphia as "a freewheeling, lively place filled with Yiddish talk and Yiddish newspapers. . . . [A family member] recalled 'lots of people always dropping in, some living with us for a few months if they had no work . . . always good food.'" My father was one of those "people always dropping in" for food and talk.
Odets' son, Walt, is a clinical psychologist, author and painter, born in 1947.