Ring Lardner (1885–1933)
From Ring Lardner: Stories & Other Writings
Ring Lardner was born 134 years ago today, on March 5, 1885.
During a forty-year career, he became famous as a sportswriter, as a humorist, and—at his peak—as a short story writer who commanded upwards of $1,500 per piece. Yet one artistic goal that eluded him for years was success on the stage.
At the age of eighteen he wrote and performed in his first musical. He subsequently wrote skits for the Ziegfeld Follies (altered so thoroughly that he didn’t recognize his own work); a parody of the opera Carmen (never produced); a series of trendy “nonsense plays” (barely understood by the small audiences brave enough to sit through them); and a play about baseball, Elmer the Great (an embarrassing and expensive Broadway flop). “How the hell does a guy get on the water wagon?” he asked in frustration.
After thirty years of trying to make it big on Broadway, Lardner finally had a box office smash. June Moon, a musical comedy cowritten with hit-maker George Kaufman, was an extraordinary success, both on Broadway and for an extended national tour. A satire of the songwriting business and Tin Pan Alley, the play was loosely based on Lardner’s popular short story, “Some Like Them Cold.”
For our (free, as always) Story of the Week selection, we present the original story, written as a series of flirtatious letters between two long-distance lovers who had met briefly at a train station.