Behind That Curtain
Earl Derr Biggers
Earl Derr Biggers (b. Warren, OH 8/26/1884–d. Pasadena, CA 4/5/1933) graduated from Harvard University in 1907, where he was a member of The Lampoon. He worked as a journalist for The Plain Dealer before turning to fiction. Many of his plays and novels were made into movies. His novel Seven Keys to Baldpate was popular in 1913, and George M. Cohan quickly adapted the novel as a hit Broadway stage play of the same name. Cohan starred in the 1917 film version, one of seven film versions of the play, and a 1935 revival. The novel was also adapted into two films with different titles, House of the Long Shadows and Haunted Honeymoon, but they had essentially equivalent plots. More than 10 years after Baldpate, Biggers had even greater success with his series of Charlie Chan detective novels. The popularity of Charlie Chan extended even to China, where audiences in Shanghai appreciated the Hollywood films. Chinese companies made films starring this fictional character. Derr Biggers publicly acknowledged the real-life detective Chang Apana as the inspiration for the character of Charlie Chan in his letter to the Honolulu Advertiser of 6/28/1932.