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Rosenfield, John, Jr. (1900–1966)

Ronald L. Davis Biography Entry

John Rosenfield, Jr., journalist and critic, the son of Jennie Lind (Kramer) and Max John Rosenfield, was born in Dallas on April 5, 1900. He attended Dallas public schools, the University of Texas, and Columbia University, where he graduated. He worked for the New York Evening Mail, first as a reporter, then as a motion-picture reviewer. Following brief employment as a publicity man for Paramount Pictures, he returned to Dallas in 1923 and joined the staff of the Dallas Morning News. Two years later he was asked by George B. Dealey, the founder of the News, to form an amusements department for the paper. The October 3, 1926, edition of the Dallas Morning News included an educational art feature titled Texas History Movies. Rosenfield served as amusement editor and authored the text, while artist Jack Patton illustrated the comic strip. Each installment consisted of four panels located at the bottom of second section of the newspaper. The comic strip gained popularity and consisted of 1,600 panels in 428 daily installments by June 9, 1927. The P. L. Turner Company of Dallas purchased the hardcover rights in 1928 and published the entire collection with credit to Rosenfield and Patton. Millions of copies of a shorter booklet version of Texas History Movies was distributed free of charge by schools across the state for over three decades.

During his forty one years as drama and music critic for the Morning News, Rosenfield became a recognized cultural spokesman for the Southwest. He contributed widely to national periodicals, as well as writing his local column, "The Passing Show." His reviews were characterized by astute judgment, dashed with keen wit. Largely through Rosenfield's influence with wealthy Dallas families, the Margo Jones Theatre was able to secure the financial backing that enabled it to open in June 1947. The Southwest Theatre Conference twice voted Rosenfield its annual award (in 1955 and 1960), and the Screen Directors Guild cited him for distinguished motion-picture criticism in 1956. He received an honorary doctorate in literature from Southwestern University in Georgetown in 1965. He was a member of Temple Emanu-El. He married Claire Burger in 1923 and was the father of two sons . In 1957 he gave up his administrative duties with the Dallas Morning News but continued to write reviews until June 1966. He died on November 26, 1966, and was buried in Dallas. In 1967 Southern Methodist University established the John Rosenfield Scholarship in Playwriting in his honor.

Dallas Morning News, November 27, 1966. Dallas Times Herald, November 27, 1966. John Rosenfield Collection, Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division, Dallas Public Library. Who Was Who in America, Vol. 4.

Categories:

  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Music
  • Business, Promotion, Broadcasting, and Technology
  • Peoples
  • Jews

Places:

  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Ronald L. Davis, “Rosenfield, John, Jr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 25, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/rosenfield-john-jr.

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