Mary Orr grew up in Canton, Ohio, but like many Ohioana Authors she spent most of her adult life in New York City. Unlike many other Ohioana Authors, however, it was not the literary community which drew Mary Orr to New York, but the Broadway stage. Trained as an actress at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, she debuted on Broadway before she ever dreamed of writing a story or play.
Given her beginnings as an actress, however, it fits that Mary Orr should be best known for writing the short story on which the Academy Award-winning film “All About Eve” was based. “The Wisdom of Eve,” Mary Orr’s short story, is a Broadway satire, published in Cosmopolitan magazine a few years after she began co-writing plays with her husband, Reginald Denham.
Mary Orr would go on to publish four novels, several more short stories, numerous plays, and over 40 television scripts, many of which she wrote backstage while acting. But sometimes writing and acting got in the way of each other. In June 1955, Orr told the Canton Repository, “I’m a bit stymied [with my writing] now, because of this part [on Broadway, in “The Desperate Hours”]. But I like acting. I’m a writer because I married a writer and it’s nice to be able to do two things.”