Lamar Trotti (1900-1952)
Lamar Trotti was one of the most prolific and respected screenwriters and producers working in the film industry during the 1930s and 1940s. Although he earned fame and fortune far from his native Georgia, he never relinquished his love for the South and its history. One of the most famous films that Trotti wrote and produced, I'd Climb the Highest Mountain (1951), was filmed on location in north Georgia and starred Susan Hayward. Trotti's script for the film was an adaptation of the novel A Circuit Rider's Wife, written by fellow Georgian Corra Harris. Before shooting began, Trotti assured the local people that the "picture would poke no 'Tobacco Road' fun" at them—a statement that could not be made about the film Deliverance, which was shot near the same location twenty years later.
Born in Atlanta on October 18, 1900, Trotti began his career as a journalist. He was the first graduate of the University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism. He was editor of the student paper, The Red and Black, and soon after graduation became the youngest city editor working for a Hearst paper, The Georgian. In 1925 he moved to New York City to work for the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America. In 1928 he married Louise Hall of Macon. While in New York he wrote his only book, Fragments from the Life of a Lady: Emma Dineen Trotti, a sentimental memoir of his mother.
Trotti moved in 1932 to Hollywood, where screenwriter Dudley Nichols got him his first screenwriting assignment with Twentieth Century Fox Studios and collaborated with him on a number of early scripts. Trotti remained at Fox for his entire twenty-year career in Hollywood. In his latter years there, he produced several films in addition to writing screenplays.
Trotti wrote films in many different genres: westerns, such as The Ox-Bow Incident (1943); historical Woodrow Wilson's presidency, which premiered in Atlanta during World War II (1941-45). Trotti's films were commercially and critically successful; they are seen often on television, and they are studied as classics in film schools across the country.
Significantly, Trotti was known among his peers and acquaintances as much for his personal characteristics as for his talent. Nichols referred to him as a "quiet, shy man" who was "morally strong." The comedian and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin referred to Trotti as having "warm sympathy for his fellow man." Given these character traits, no one was surprised when Trotti established a scholarship for rural teachers to further their education at the University of Georgia.
In 1950 one of Trotti's sons, Lamar Jr., was killed in an automobile accident. Trotti never recovered from the tragedy, and he died on August 28, 1952, in California. The Writers Guild of America recognized Lamar Trotti posthumously in 1983 with its coveted Screen Laurel Award.