Friday, April 15, 2011

Brave Buffalo Fighter

This post is thanks to two friends Cherie and Charles, both of them asked about the book.

Brave Buffalo Fighter was written by the same John Dennis Fitzgerald of Great Brain history.  One of the best brief descriptions I could find was at Bethlehem books.  They write

This powerful story, presented in the simple language of 10-year-old Susan Parker, really centers around the characterization of Jerry, Sue's 12-year-old brother. The Parker family, unused to any kind of pioneering life, leaves St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1860, part of a westward-bound wagon train. Each family member is challenged by the hardships of a difficult journey in which a jumble of classes and types of people must learn how to pull together. Jerry thrives on the life, and is prepared, when the call comes, to sacrifice much for the sake of the common good. Here is an unusually realistic and moving tale of pioneer spirit.

I read it a couple years ago, when my husband bought for me as a surprise.  Like all of John's books it is a great escape to another time.  It looks as if the publisher recently re-released the book with the cover seen in the picture.  If your interested in it you can buy it at or  

Enjoy.  Thanks Cherie and Charles.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Great Brain Movie Rights

Hi - I said every once in a while I might add something.  Today I received a fun email I thought you might enjoy.

Hi Carrie,

I hope you can help us. We're working with a producer who is interested in the film rights to the Great Brain series. They're a very large producer but have had trouble tracking down who controls these rights or even who is a good contact person for the estate. Do you know if there is a literary agency or lawyer who represents the interests of the estate with regards to matters like this? I appreciate any help you can provide.

Thank you!


JESSE SOLOMON | RightsGenie 

Not only did Jesse Solomon contact me, but so did his partner Josh Brody.  I sent them what I had for contacts.  I then asked if I could share it with you.  Jesse wrote back - here is his reply. 

Thanks for that information Carrie - any leads are useful. 

Josh told me he reached out to you as well. 

Producers often search for the rights holders to many many books when they're conceptualizing a project. The factors that then go into whether a producer actually goes ahead and licenses those rights are varied. Even then, sometimes the license deal becomes public knowledge and sometimes it doesn't. We are not actually involved in this particular project in any other way than helping track down who controls or represents the rights today and passing that information along.

And we found you through googling for John Dennis Fitzgerald - you were one of the sites that came up! 

Anyway for what it's worth - Maybe someday there will be a full movie or series on The Great Brain.  If I find out I'll pass it along.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Winding Down

Dear Readers- As you may have realized I have slowed down my entries.

I have tried to share with you my findings of John Dennis Fitzgerald.  Over the years of the research I felt like I was a family member.  I had hoped to be able to give you that same feeling.

Your compliments, questions, and comments made the journey enjoyable.
I am abandoning the site.  I know that a few more questions exist.  I want to answer those questions.  I also hope to write a bit more about the man behind the books.  To share my theory of why he did what he did.  I will not continue the play thread unless requested.  Though I find it interesting, I can't say that anyone else does.

I am moving on to other projects.  I am writing a book about my son.  His story was the inspiration for Karen Kingsbury's Unlocked  I will be ramping up to homeschool my son through High School.  And assisting my daughters in their adult/college pursuits.

Please feel free to write comments or ask questions.
You can reach me at

Thanks again,

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Collaboration Begins

 On May 28, 1969, two days after John wrote Charles Whitman of Brigham Young University, Bud Noble an independent producer wrote to Mr. Whitman.  In his letter he wrote, "My adaptation for the musical version ends with the wedding of Mama and Papa."

Bud Noble called his play Pursuit of Happiness.  Two weeks later on June 8th the cast of the play performed a community run through for feed back. From Mr. Noble's point of view the play was a success.  He did however share some thoughts.

"There is a great deal of work that needs to be done by someone such as yourself (Charles Whitman) in collaboration with Mr. Fitzgerald regarding the expansion of the Bishop's role and coloring the characters to truly exemplify their indentity as Fitzgerald meant them to be."
In addition to developing the Bishop's role, the feedback included suggestions to give "Tena more obstacles for her to surmount before she realizes her true happiness".  (The true happiness is marrying Papa).

By the end of June all three men had begun working on fleshing out the small play Bud had created.  During the same time each one of them had challenges.  John's house in Denver flooded and unfortunately he had been in New York working on The Great Brain, so the damage was extensive.  Charles Whitman's  "briefcase with notes, scripts, etc. for the show was lost, stolen or something."  While Bud received an offer to perform the full musical in early September, making the time crunch tight for finishing the production.  Last of all John sent a copy of the play to his agent, Ann Elmo, in New York.  Ann's feed back only added more work,
"Your conflict is strong here but it's also feebly developed.  We need a more solidly built love story and just as solidly built opposition to the union.  The seems like a lot of work, but I know you can do it.  Incidently, must the term "gentile" be used?  You know it has a different meaning nowadays."

Clearly writing a play from a book was not going to be such an easy task.  Each of them though was willing to try.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We Take Time for a Break

I know we are mid way through the history of the plays, but my husband had surgery so we put things on hold.  He's back to action so I will re join the blog world soon.

On a side note - I recommend you buying or getting a copy of Mama's Bank Account.  Easy read, sweet story, and very similar to John's style of books.  Grab a copy while the world is still grey, cold and quiet.  I read it this past week and loved it.

Thanks for always checking in.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Fork In The River

On May 26, 1969 - John wrote to Charles Whitman to explain a small development that had occurred.  Like digging a small hole in  a stream path, this development moved the play down an unexpected path.

Dear Charles; 
I am sorry to inform you that Prentice Hall who own the copyright to Papa Married A Mormon decided to accept a cash offer for a one year option on the live dramatic rights to the book.  And due to the cash involved I must admit that I went along with the idea.    
 Bud Noble and Associates are going to make a musical comedy out of the book.  The music and lyrics have been written and will be presented at the Fresno Playhouse on June 9th. I have written Mr. Noble and suggested he give you a crack at writing the book for the musical (libretto).  The Fresno production is just to try out the music with Guy Stockwell reading the narrative to the audience.  Bud wanted me to take a shot at writing the libretto but I haven't any playwriting experience at all, except for working on the motion picture script with Warren Duff.
You may hear from Bud Noble.
This still leave's Mamma's Boarding House open for option if you want it.  I recall the book, play and later motion picture of .Mamma's Bank Account was a big hit.
With every good wish,                                        

Shortly thereafter, Bud Noble wrote Charles Whitman.  From that day on the process took some remarkable turns.   I'll fill you in a few days.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Nurturing a Dream

Every published writer wants their books to succeed.  Depending on the era they publish in, a published author can hope for anything from a barely known book that at least bears your name, to the present mother lode of having the story made into a movie.

In 1955 John Fitzgerald's Papa Married a Mormon had been promised the world. Radio, T.V., movie.  These were heady ideals for his family memoir.  Unfortunately a decade later John's hopes were fleeting.  In a letter to Mr. Charles Whitman, drama director at Brigham Young University, John wrote, "The motion picture rights to Papa Married a Mormon were sold in 1955 although the movie has never been made....I have no way of knowing when or if the movie will ever be made."

Mr. Whitman had written John in February of 1969. He was hoping to create a play based on the three adult books.  The idea appealed to John but there were legal loopholes and contracts that must be maintained.  All of these John outlined in his two page response to Whitman.  However, more important than any of these was the purpose of the story.  John's closing paragraph outlined his dream, "It is a shame that motion picture of Papa Married a Mormon was never made because it would have done more to build up good will toward the Mormons in this country than anything else.  Maybe your play could do the same thing if you adhere to the story line and don't let any propoganda (sic) work its way into it."  John closed "with every good wish".

By March the authorization to adapt had been given.  There was only one caveat and John didn't think it would be a problem.  Mr. Whitman had his dream.  John did, too.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Let's Start At The Very Beginning...

In 1955 when Papa Married a Mormon was released, it became a publishing house bestseller.  With that success came a string of opportunities. Book of the month clubs, magazine serial rights, radio shows, television shows, and movie rights were all banking on their take off of the book.

Republic Pictures acquired the movie rights.  Republic Pictures specialized in b-movies, westerns, etc.  However they did produce such classics as The Quiet Man with John Wayne and The Sands of Iwo Jima.  By 1969 no movie had been made.  In early 1969 Charles W. Whitman, drama professor at Brigham Young University, wrote John Fitzgerald regarding the option to produce a single play based on the three adult novels. This is where our story begins.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Coming Soon- A Tale of Two Plays


"They were the worst of plays; they were the best of plays"

I am working on writing the history of the two musical versions of Papa Married a Mormon.  I am so grateful to Michelle Horner who collected and shared the original plays history to me.  

It's going to take a few more days, but keep checking back I think it's an interesting chapter in John's success.