Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1896, Maurine Watkins resided in Crawfordsville during her formative years. Watkins and her parents, Reverend George and Georgia Watkins, lived at several locations including 108 and 111 West Franklin Street and 124 West Pike Street. As a student at Crawfordsville High School, Watkins was an active member in the Sunshine Society and the Press Club. She performed in many of CHS’s theater productions and won second prize for her story “The Will o’ the Wisp.” Just before graduating at the top of her class in 1914, Watkins took home first prize for her declamation, “A Perfect Tribute,” in the Custer Oratorical Contest.
After graduation, Watkins attended several colleges before becoming a writer for the Chicago Tribune. The sensational murder trials she covered as a reporter influenced her most famous play, “Chicago”. After the success of “Chicago”, Watkins wrote several plays and short stories before working as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Among her film contributions, Libeled Lady (1936) was nominated for an Oscar and No Man of Her Own (1932) featured a young Clark Gable and Carole Lombard before their famous marriage.
“Chicago” has had many film variations over the years, including the silent film Chicago (1927) and the latest musical version and Academy Award winner Chicago (2002).
For more information…
Perry, Douglas. The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust & the Beautiful Killers who Inspired Chicago. New York: Viking, 2010.
Watkins, Maurine. Chicago. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1927.
Watkins, Maurine. Chicago: With the Chicago Tribune Articles that Inspired It. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University, 1997.
Wilson, Jodie S, Winfrey,Emily G, and Rebecca McDole. Hidden History of Montgomery County, Indiana. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2012.