Born : July 13, 1883 Belvidere, Ill.,USA

Died : May 4, 1957 - Los Angeles, CA.,USA

Parents : George Henry Hurlbut & Eliza Cartwright


Playwright & Screenwriter


Lord Meher ; ( L-R ) Nadine Tolstoy ?, Norina Matchabelli, Mercedes D'Acosta, Meher Baba and William Hurlbut
Lord Meher ; ( L-R ) Nadine Tolstoy ?, Norina Matchabelli, Mercedes D'Acosta, Meher Baba and William Hurlbut





William Hurlbut, another well-known screenplay writer who wrote Imitation of Life, came to see Baba on January 4th. He found it difficult to articulate his question of how he could live in the world, attend to his job and be spiritual at the same time. Baba understood what he meant, clarifying, "You mean spirituality made practical ..."

"Yes, that is exactly it," Hurlbut interrupted.

Baba assured him, "It is very easy, very simple. Its very simplicity makes it very difficult."

"Is it really? How strange!" Hurlbut said.

"People's ideas about God and spirituality are so far-fetched, fantastic and funny!" Baba replied, "Names and terms do not matter. It is the feeling that counts."

"What then should I do to feel and get a glimpse of it if I do not go deeper into it?" Hurlbut asked.

Baba explained, "For a man of your position in life, it is all right in a civilized country of modern ideals and age, to live as you do always keeping your mind toward higher aspirations. To speak frankly, you are spiritual without being conscious of it."

William Hurlbut questioned if Baba really meant it. Baba reassured him, "Yes. I know you are really more spiritual than you yourself know, and there is still much more you could do. I will explain it to you." Baba then gave him instructions to concentrate on a particular thought for a number of minutes every day.


  Lord Meher Volume 6, Page 1943






"HURLBUT, WILLIAM JAMES, playwright of 4 Perry Street was born July 13, 1883 in Belvidere, Ill.  He is the author of The Fighting Hope, produced at Belasco Theatre, New York; The Writing in the Wall, produced by Olga Nethersole; Little Miss Fix-It; The Strange Woman, and other plays."


DEATH CERTIFICATE: Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder/County Clerk:  Registration District # 7053, Registrar's Number 8350.  Date of Death: 4 May 1957.


Services for William Hurlbut, 74, playwright and screenwriter who died Saturday, will be held today, 2:30 p.m. Armstrong Family Mortuary, 1201 S. Hope.  Interment will follow in Hollywood Cemetery.

Prior to coming to Hollywood in the early '30s, Hurlbut wrote a long succession of Broadway plays, best remembered being "Bride of the Lamb," starring Alice Brady; "Lillies of the Field" and "Little Miss Fix-it."  His best known screen play was UI's "Imitation of Life."

  There is some information in' Who's Who in the Theatre, 1912-1976,' p. 1247: "Dramatic author, b. Belvidere, Ill., 13 July 1883, son of George Henry Hurlbut and his wife Eliza (Cartwright); studied art at St. Louis and Chicago; educated as an illustrator, but became a dramatic author."

Many thanks for the assistance of Jeanne Kassof in putting this page together.



The films of William Hurlbut

Courtesy of :


Lux Video Theatre (TV series)

Adam Had Four Sons (1957) (screenplay)
Only Yesterday (1956) (screenplay)
1941 Adam Had Four Sons (screenplay)
1937 Daughter of Shanghai (additional dialogue - uncredited)
1937 Make a Wish (additional dialogue)
1936 King of Burlesque (contributing writer - uncredited)
1935 Way Down East
1935 Orchids to You
1935 Bride of Frankenstein (adapted by / screenplay)
1934 Imitation of Life (screenplay)
1934 There's Always Tomorrow (adaptation and screenplay)
1934 One More River (screenplay - uncredited)
1934 Madame Spy
1933 Only Yesterday (writer)
1933 Ladies Must Love (play / stories "Lilies of Broadway" and "Scarlet Sisterhood")
1933 Secret of the Blue Room (writer)
1931 Good Sport (story and screenplay)
1930 The Will of the Dead Man (adaptation and scenario)
1930 The Cat Creeps
1930 Lilies of the Field (novel)
1925 The Heart of a Siren (play "Hail and Farewell")
1924 That French Lady (story)
1924 Lilies of the Field (novel)
1923 Trimmed in Scarlet (story / play)
1921 Made in Heaven (story)
1920/I Body and Soul (story)
1919 Experimental Marriage (play "Saturday to Monday")
1919 Romance and Arabella (play)
1918 The Strange Woman (novel / play)
1916 The Big Sister (story)
1916 The Dawn of Freedom (story / as William J. Hurlbut)
1916 The Writing on the Wall (story / as William J. Hurlbut)
1916 New York (play)
1915 Body and Soul (story)
1915 The Fighting Hope (play)


Personal Details

Other Works:

Little Miss Fix-It (1911). Musical. Book by William Hurlbut and Harry B. Smith. Music by Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth. Lyrics by Jack Norworth. Musical Director: Frederic Solomon. Additional numbers by Fred Barnes and R.P. Weston. Featuring songs by Hugh Owens, James McGhee and Joseph Tabrar. Featuring songs with lyrics by Herbert Rule. Directed by Gustav von Seyffertitz. Globe Theatre (from 3 Apr 1911 to 20 May 1911, then moved to The Grand Opera House 27 Nov 1911- close): 3 Apr 1911- Dec 1911 (closing date unknown/64 performances). Cast: Joseph Baumeister (as "Ned"), Nora Bayes (as "Delia Wendell"), Alys Belga (as "Rose Lawton"), Annie Buckley (as "Mary Ann"), Hazel Cox (as "Jane Wheatley"), W.J. Curtis (as "Billie"), William E. Danforth (as "Henry Burbank"), Ernestine Emler (as "Jimmie"), Grace Field (as "Marjorie Arnold"), Bessie Gibson (as "Cora Lee"), Helen Hilton (as "May Roberts"), James C. Lane (as "Harold Watson"), Harry Lillford (as "Edward Doolittle"), Edith Norman (as "Mazie"), Jack Norworth (as "Buddie Arnold"), Estelle Perry (as "Kate Winthrop"), Egbert T. Roach (as "Tom"), Vivian Rushmore (as "Agnes Marston"), David Stampler (as "Jack"), Eleanor Stuart (as "Bella Ketcham"), Mona Trieste (as "Florence Gordon"), Harry Wagner (as "Fred"), Oza Waldrop (as "Ethel Morgan"), Lionel Walsh (as "Percy Paget"). Produced by Louis F. Werba and Mark A. Luescher.