Joshua Logan was an American playwright, screenwriter, and director. Born in 1908, he worked on Broadway and in Hollywood for many decades, and some of the most popular films of the 1950s and 1960s are among his credits. Despite his prolific body of work, throughout his life he lived with being consistently minimized, with his roles on hits often unmentioned.
From an early age, Joshua Logan was captivated by the theatre. From his first drama class in grade school, he knew he would be a part of the theatre world. When he moved to Princeton to attend university, an entire world opened up to him. He joined the University Players and worked on shows with other young talents, including Henry Fonda and James Stewart. His senior year at Princeton, Joshua Logan was offered a coveted scholarship to move to Moscow and study under Stanislavsky, one of the greatest directors and theorists of the age. He dropped out of college before graduation and took the opportunity.
At 24, Joshua Logan moved to Broadway and began his career on the stage. He started as an actor, in a relatively-popular production of Carry Nation, but it was soon apparent that acting was not his true calling. Logan moved around to different shows, working in various technical roles, helping to stage productions, traveling to Hollywood to work on a few movies, and generally gathering a better understanding of the disparate elements of production.
He then moved back to Broadway from Hollywood for his first major directorial job, directing On Borrowed Time. The show was not a flop, running for just over a year, but it wasn’t a breakout hit, either. In 1938, however, Joshua Logan directed I Married an Angel, which captured the hearts and imaginations of Broadway audiences, and cemented Logan’s place as a serious director. He went on to direct By Jupiter, Morning’s at Seven, Charlie’s Aunt, and Knickerbocker Glory, before being drafted into World War II in 1942.
In 1949 Logan collaborated with Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II on South Pacific. The musical was heavily based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by James Michener, Tales of the South Pacific, and combined a number of different storylines and character arcs into a single cohesive plot. Joshua Logan co-wrote the book for the musical with Hammerstein, but originally was left off of the credits for it, and when the play went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama he was not awarded the prize. This was eventually remedied, but he commented on the experience throughout his life, and always ensured he was properly recognized for work he undertook.
South Pacific was an enormous success, winning all ten Tony Awards it was nominated for, including a Best Director award for Joshua Logan. He went on to direct other smash Broadway hits, including Fanny, Mister Roberts, and Annie Get Your Gun. In the 1950s Logan returned to Hollywood, directing such hits as Inge’s Picnic and Bus Stop, a movie of South Pacific, and Sayonara.