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Rice, Elmerlocked

(28 September 1892–08 May 1967)
  • Malcolm Goldstein


Rice, Elmer (28 September 1892–08 May 1967), playwright, was born Elmer Leopold Reizenstein in New York City, the son of Jacob Reizenstein and Fanny Lion, the children of German-Jewish immigrants who had come to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. Jacob Reizenstein was a bookkeeper and traveling salesman, although epilepsy reduced him to reliance on relatives and friends for work. After leaving high school at fourteen without a diploma, Elmer Reizenstein had two jobs in quick succession in small business firms, a sampling of the world of commerce that left him unhappy. He next took a position as an office boy in a law firm headed by an older cousin. After one year on the job, with a promotion to clerk secured, he made the decision to study law—not out of a passionate interest in the legal profession, but for want of a suitable means of earning a living....

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