Ferenc “Franz” Molnar was a Jewish-Hungarian playwright, novelist and journalist, who is remembered for a number of works which were adapted as films and musicals. His style was romantic and witty, occasionally compared to that of Oscar Wilde.
Molnar was born in Budapest in 1878 as Ferenc Neumann to a well-to-do family. His father was a physician, and encouraged his son’s forays into writing. After finishing school Molnar continued as a journalist throughout his twenties, and published short stories and novels.
In 1907 he released two of his best-known works: The Paul Street Boys, and The Devil. The latter was a dramatic re-imagining of Faust and established him as a leading dramatist. Molnar's career continued to rise. When WWI broke-out Molnar briefly revisited his journalistic roots and published Diary of a War Correspondent. By the time he visited the United States in 1920, he was a celebrity.
Molnar fled from Europe to New York in the late 1930s, to escape the Nazis.
Over the course of his career, he wrote some forty-two plays, many of which were adapted or remade in other formats. Most notably Lilliom, written in 1909 was remade by Rodgers and Hammerstein as their now famous musical Carousel. Other plays made in to films include The Swan (1956) which starred Grace Kelly, and Olimpia which was produced a total of three times. In addition a number of his writings were adapted by other famous figures such as P.G. Wodehouse and Billy Wilder.
Franz Molnar remained in New York until his death in 1952.