Howard Cook

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Howard Koch (born December 12, 1901 in New York City , † August 17, 1995 in Woodstock , Ulster County , New York ; pseudonym: Peter Howard ) was an American screenwriter .


Koch became famous with the adaptation of HG Wells ' science fiction novel War of the Worlds , which Orson Welles directed as a radio play for CBS on Halloween eve in 1938 . Since then, Koch has been considered one of the most distinguished screenwriters in American theater and film history.

Koch's specialty was the processing of difficult literary material, which did not lose any of its intensity when transferred to the medium of film. For the screenplay for Casablanca , Koch and his co-authors, brothers Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein , won an Oscar .

In 1951, Koch was severely incriminated before the Senate Committee on Un-American Activities by the film producers Harry M. and Jack L. Warner and thereby got on the notorious black list of the American film industry, which amounted to a professional ban. The main accusation was Koch's script for the film Ambassador in Moscow (1943). Jack Warner was the client for this work.

In the following ten years Koch was only able to sell a single script ( The Intimate Stranger ; 1956) under the pseudonym Peter Howard in the USA , although he had previously got into trouble under exactly this alias in 1953, as an American investor in a British film company his true identity got out. The McCarthy era , which triggered the ban on the profession, was history for seven years before Koch's career began to look up again in the early 1960s.

In 1967 Koch and his wife Anne moved to the Birdcliffe artists' colony in the small town of Woodstock . There he worked alongside his film and television assignments with the local Birdcliffe Theater.

In 1970, Howard Koch published a book about the origin, broadcast and, in some cases, panic-like effects of the radio play Invasion vom Mars on October 30, 1938, which he had seen first hand as the radio play writer for the radio station. In 1975 Koch wrote the script for the documentary film The Night That Panicked America (German version: The night when the Martians attacked America ) on the subject.

In 2006, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) ranked the Casablanca screenplay # 1 in the 101 Best Screenplays of All Time .

Scripts (selection)


  • The War of the Worlds . Radio play by HG Wells. Editing: Howard Koch. Directed by Orson Welles. Production: CBS, 1938. ISBN 3-89940-617-6
  • Howard Koch: The Panic Broadcast - The Whole Story of the Night the Martians Landed - Orson Welles' Legendary Radio Show Invasion From Mars , Avon Books, New York 1970, ISBN 0380005018

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