Ferdinand Reyher was a screenwriter originally from Philadelphia. He earned a master’s degree in English from Harvard University in 1913 and taught English for one year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then became a war correspondent in Europe from 1915 to 1916 for newspapers including the Boston Globe, the Boston Post, and The New York Evening Sun. After covering the war, Reyher moved to New York City.
A novelist, journalist, film doctor and screenwriter, playwright, and poet, Reyher produced volumes of notes, research, and prose. He was interested in many topics, especially American folklore, and conceived many book projects, including a history of poker. Reyher was active in Hollywood at several studios, including RKO, MGM, and Paramount. His most famous work is The Man the Tiger and the Snake.
In 1917, Ferdinand Reyher married Rebecca Hourwich, the head of the Boston and New York offices of the National Women’s Party, a prominent political and women’s rights activist, and author. The Reyhers’ marriage ended in divorce in 1934.
Reyher later married Chinese writer and translator Eileen Chang (Zhang Ailing) in August 1956. The two met at The MacDowell Colony.
Reyher was among those who helped to extricate German playwright, poet, and dramatic theorist Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) and his family from Nazi Germany in 1941. He also actively promoted the translation and performance of Brecht’s works in the U.S. Reyher and Brecht made attempts to collaborate on various works.
Reyher was an acquaintance of various literary figures such as James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, and Ezra Pound and corresponded with Ford Maddox Ford, Wallace Stevens, and Sinclair Lewis. Reyher also interacted and corresponded with many prominent photographers of the twentieth century, including Ansel Adams, Berenice Abbott, Beaumont Newhall, and Todd Webb. Friends and correspondents from Reyher’s Hollywood years include actor and director John Huston and his wife Dorothy; actor and producer Paul Henreid; screenwriters Frank “Spig” Wead and Dale Van Every; and director Leopold Jessner. Other notable correspondents include journalist George Seldes, publisher John Rodker, musician George Antheil, and artists Lee Hersch and William and Marguerite Zorach.