Charles Grayson was an editor of Stephen King’s favorite book The Golden Argosy.
Charles Grayson was a pseudonym. Early on in his writing career, he wrote under his name, Charles Wright Gray, and compiled an earlier anthology of short stories titled Hosses for the same publisher, Garden City Publishing, who published Stories for Men. Another very early anthology of animal stories, Dawgs, was published in 1925. In 1927, the Kappa Sigma publication Caduceus wrote “Bernard F. Scotten of Los Angeles suggests Charles Wright Gray (Los Angeles ’26) author. Although still a very young man,” he writes, “Bro. Gray has published four books of fiction, with two more scheduled for release early in the coming year. His publishers are Henry Holt and Company of New York.” In this publication, Caduceus Volume 43 issue 1, there is photo of a young Charles Gray next to a Art White “winning the attendance cup for Delta-Nu”.
Like many young writers of the 1920s, Charles Grayson went to Hollywood to cash in. Writing for the movies was one of the few high paying writing jobs that could be found after the onset of the Great Depression. While working, Charles kept on publishing anthologies because he loved great writing and had a knack for editing. But after the 1950’s, there isn’t anything I can find published or credited to Charles Grayson although he lived until 1973. This is the case for many Hollywood screenwriters in the fifties. By then, the old Hollywood system and the Golden Age of Hollywood had ended.
Charles Grayson put together several anthologies with writers from the late 1920’s through the 1940’s.
- Stories for Men (1936)
- New Stories for Men (1943)
- Half a Hundred Stories for Men (1946)
- The Fourth Round (1953)
The books are chock full of short stories by great writers. Check out this list of a small few:
- Two Sharp Knives by Dashiell Hammett
- The Undefeated by Ernest Hemingway
- The Grandstand Complex by Horace McCoy
- A Stranger Appears by Jim Tully
- The Baby in the Icebox By James M. Cain
- The Fingernail by Cornell Woolrich
- Helen, Thy Beauty is to Me by John Fante
- The Vigilante by John Steinbeck
Charles Grayson was also known as “Charlie Grayson”. From Years of the Locust by Val Henry Geilguld, “Charlie Grayson, a young American writer of enormous vitality and engaging personality.”
In Rivkin’s book Hello Hollywood! you can find a short piece by Charles Grayson called On Location. The story revolves around director John Huston on the set of The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958). Hello Hollywood! is an anthology of stories about Hollywood with such writers as Horace McCoy who contributed a 1936 story previously published in the Hollywood Reporter titled I Wish I was a Writer for the anthology.
I also found additional works by Charles Grayson such as Hollywood Doctor. Other screenwriters too, like P.J. Wolfson‘s Is my Flesh of Brass? aka The Flesh Baron, tried to jump on the success of the doctor genre in the mid-fifties. Tastes were changing and there was a dearth of new writers as paperback sales took off after WWII. Paperbacks have an interesting history and you can read a short one here.
Here is blurb Charles Grayson wrote in his published anthology Stories for Men:
“The anthology idea is grand one; but laziness, or distrust of their own judgments, has prompted some editors to go on assembling collections of the same old chestnuts until readers are crying out loud. Most of the ensuing stories are making their debuts in book form.”
Many of the authors in the anthologies wrote between the late 1920’s and early 1950’s. With Prohibition, The Great Depression, WWII, Red Scare, and the emergent of new media forms, it was an interesting time. While paperback mass consumption was taking off, television still had a ways to go before it started to take a good chunk out of our leisure time. Unfortunately, the demise of the studio system and the Hollywood blacklist ended a lot of Hollywood writer careers in the 1950’s. It is interesting that Charles Grayson is credited as a screenwriter for I Married a Communist aka The Woman on Pier 13 shot in the classic film noir style by Nicholas Muscara in 1949.
Chris Pickard emailed me and said:
As nephew to Paddy Grayson, I met Charles twice when I was a boy when he visited England and regret not asking him more about his life. He and Paddy lived in Beverley Hills and she used to write letters at Christmas which read like a Hollywood magazine. I remember an account of a Paul Newman party among others. When I visited Paddy in New Orleans in 1988 (Charles had died and she was now married to Dr Tom Farris) she told me how she had met Charles in London when she had been working in a hotel and he had been visiting England. Charles was much older. It was considered controversial in those days when Paddy flew off to live with him without getting married! Paddy told of their friendship with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Lauren was similarly married to an older man and seemed to take Paddy under her wing. I saw a photo of Charles and Paddy with HB and LB on a yacht but sadly when Paddy died there was no trace of this photo. Paddy also told me a story about filming on location in Japan (was this the Geisha film with John Huston?). Money ran out and filming stopped. One day a helicopter arrived and three men visited the set. Paddy was asked to look after this small, old man all day – he hardly said a word all day but was very polite. At the end of the day the men flew off and filming resumed. Paddy asked Charles who the man was and Charles said he was a Mafia godfather and his ‘family’ were bankrolling the film. I don’t know if this was a true story, but I cannot see why Paddy would have invented it. Paddy also said that Charles worked with John Huston on other scripts without credit, presumably making amends or doing re-writes. I don’t know which films these were, but possibly one was African Queen. She recalled going to film sets in Spain and Ireland but again I never found out which films these were or if they were Huston films. I have several books (not written by Charles) that he sent to me as Christmas presents when I was a boy and which I still treasure – I guess he wanted to share his love of books and it worked … perhaps he would be pleased to know that I became a journalist and a writer of two books and an avid reader.
Yes. I think he would have been very pleased.
Thank you for contributing your memories.
With the information you provided, I was able to locate their final resting place.
Paddy Grayson Farris
Angelus Rosedale Cemetery
Plot: Section P
Paddy was 70 when she passed away. The age discrepancy was quite large when she meet Charles Grayson. According to her her obit, Mrs. Farris was born in Essex, England, and lived in Gretna. Its a long way from Gretna to Hollywood and I can see why it might have been scandalous! I’m sure she was a fine lady and the fact that they are buried together tells me she cared for him very much.
With Hollywood’s past ties to the Mafia, it wouldn’t surprise me if The Barbarian and the Geisha was financed partly by the Mob.
Kevin I. Slaughter also said:
In trying to figure out where to put the book “Stories for Men” on my Jim Tully site I ran across this blog post! Thanks for the info on the book, and was excited to see this was the first of 4 books!