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Sister Carrie
"A Strangely Strong Novel
in a Queer Milieu"
Curated by Nancy M. Shawcross
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
University of Pennsylvania

My Gal Sal, the Movie


Publicity still from the movie My Gal Sal


Photograph of movie marquis in New York, New York

After decades of false starts and tangled negotiations, a cinematic version of Paul Dresser's life story was finally produced by Twentieth Century-Fox in 1942. The Hollywood musical starred Victor Mature as Dresser and Rita Hayworth as Sally (Sal) Elliot; it was loosely based on Dreiser's essay "My Brother Paul" and included many of Dresser's songs. The rights for the movie and for the songs were sold for between $35,000 and $50,000, and the proceeds were divided among Dresser's surviving siblings (Theodore, Ed, Mame, and Sylvia).



Theodore Dreiser
Typed letter signed to William Lengel
18 July 1942
In this letter to his former secretary, sometimes literary agent, and loyal friend and supporter, Dreiser urges Lengel to see My Gal Sal and offers his reaction to the Hollywood biography--so long in the making--of his brother Paul.
I was surprised and pleased at the skilful way the Fox Company developed Paul's life story as well as the gay nineties, and particularly his Gal Sal. It's truly charming and gay.

Brother Paul
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