Son of sportswriter
and humorist Ring Lardner
and an infamous member of the Hollywood Ten
Ring Jr. started out his career by following in his father's footsteps but left New York City in 1935 for Hollywood at the request of David Selznick. He contributed to Selznick's films by adding re-writes on several films and is credited with the last scene of A Star is Born.
In 1938, he left Selznick and headed for Warner Brothers where he continued to work on re-writes and collaborated on a couple of screen plays for RKO.In 1942, he won the Oscar for best original screenplay for the film Woman of the Year. Ironically he did not attend the ceremonies since he was busy writing Army training films in Virginia. He would later receive another Oscar in 1970 for best screenplay based on material from another medium for the film M*A*S*H.
Like many individuals in Hollywood at the time, he had ties to the Communist Party. In 1947 he and Dalton Trumbo were both members of a group that was called to appear in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC]) as "unfriendly witnesses". This is how he explained his position before the committee.
"Under the Fifth Amendment there is freedom of speech and freedom of press, and that includes the movie business. Therefore Congress cannot legislate in this field and Congress has no right to investigate where it cannot legislate." When asked the infamous "are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party," Lardner replied, " I could answer the way you want Mr. Chairman, but I'd hate myself in the morning."
As a result of his answers or lack thereof in front of HUAC, Lardner was imprisoned for nine months and subsequently blacklisted. Though he was banned, he continued to work under pseudonyms and was uncredited. It would not be until 1965 that he would receive a screenwriting credit again.
Here's a partial listing of Lardner's more famous films:
A Star is Born - 1937
Nothing Sacred - 1937
Laura - 1937
Woman of the Year - 1942
Cloak and Dagger - 1942
Forever Amber - 1947
Cincinati Kid - 1965
M*A*S*H - 1970
The Greatest - 1977