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Martin Fass Papers

An inventory of his papers at the Syracuse University Archives


Creator: Fass, Martin.
Title: Martin Fass Papers
Dates: 1933-1980
Size: 4 boxes (4 linear feet)
Abstract: The Martin Fass Papers contain screenplays, radio scripts, correspondence, writings, and other material relating to his career as a freelance writer and faculty member at Syracuse University.
Language: English
Repository: University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Ave., Suite 600
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010


Martin Fass

Martin Fass (1914-1981) was an American author, professor, and director of public relations.

Martin Fass was born on August 27, 1914 and spent his childhood in New York City. He attended the University of Alabama and received a LL.B law degree from New York Law School. By 1939, he was admitted to the bar and allowed to practice law in New York State. For two years Fass had a modest practice in New York City, but he was unsatisfied working at his law firm. He needed something else in his life and he found it when he joined the military.

Fass took up the call to arms during World War II, similar to many young men during that period of American history. However, his military career was different from others. When Fass joined the military he was placed as a gunner in an anti-aircraft battalion in the Pacific. Though only seeing modest action, Fass’ experiences there had a profound effect on him. Shortly after, he was transferred to the 93rd Infantry Division in the Dutch East Indies. There he was placed as the program director for the Armed Forces Radio Station WVTL as well as an editor and director for several newspapers. Through his experiences in the military, Fass discovered that writing was his true calling.

After Fass was discharged from the military, he started his career as a freelance writer. He took many of his experiences from the military and used them in his writing. He often wrote factually based action and adventure stories for radio broadcasts and men’s magazines. These short stories often featured explorers and unknown military heroes. In Fass’ early career he also had an affinity for baseball. In the 1950’s professional baseball games were freely broadcast over the radio for listeners to tune in. Fass saw an opportunity with the broadcasts. He would listen to the live games and write down the play-by-plays. After the games were over he would type up the play-by-plays and sell them to West Coast radio broadcasters. Major League Baseball (MLB) did not take kindly to Fass’ use of their broadcasts and sued him on the grounds that their broadcasts were not in the public domain. Fass stood his ground and ended up taking the lawsuit all the way to the New York Supreme Court. He ended up losing the legal battle; however, his and others' legal disputes helped change the way radio was broadcast in the United States by consolidating radio into larger broadcasting companies.

Fass did not let the legal battle deter him from his writing. By 1967, he had written more than 200 adventure stories, scores of historical articles and profiles of famous personalities. In addition, he had written for encyclopedia yearbooks and wrote a daily newspaper comic strip, “Nero Wolfe,” based on Rex Stout’s detective character. It was at this time that Syracuse University offered Fass a position as a lecturer in the television-radio department teaching courses in drama writing for television. He was also appointed a writer for the University News Bureau. The University recognized Fass’ skills as a writer and editor and in 1968 appointed him Director of Public Relations at University College (UC).

As Director of the Public Relations Office at University College, Fass handled all of the public relations, news, and advertising for UC. In 1970, the college was publishing 300 brochures featuring UC courses. Fass often wrote news releases for the college or approved other UC administrators' work for public release. He decided where each news release would be sent based on the scope and content of the material. News releases were often sent to local newspapers, radio and television, or other news media in all of upper New York State. Fass was an excellent director, and in 1972 the UC Public Relations Office was honored by Stanford University’s Institute for Communications Research for having conducted one of the nation’s best promotional campaigns for lifetime learning. Under Fass’ leadership UC programs were able to reach target audiences through the use of effective public relations policies.

Though Fass only taught part time, he experienced great success as a professor. In 1973, the University appointed Fass an adjunct associate professor for S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication’s television and radio department. He taught courses in advanced creative writing. In 1975, three of his students’ plays from his Creative Writing for Stage, Screen and Television class were performed by Salt City Playhouse’s Studio Theater. Four of his students wrote plays which won them appointments as Sam S. Shubert Foundation fellows at SU. Several of his other students also won prizes in national writing competitions.

Fass was honored by Syracuse University on several occasions for his work at the school. In 1971, he was asked to be a key speaker at Chancellor Egger’s announcement of the new Bachelor of Science in Business Administration program. He also helped promote the television and radio department in 1971 when he won an award from the Foundation of California for his research in the needs and uses of videotexts.

Fass led the way developing a new curriculum for the television-radio and drama departments during the early 1970's. He worked as part of the television and radio (TV-R) department, along with Lawrence Myers Jr., chair of the TV-R department, G.F. Reidenbaugh, chair of the drama department, and John Try of the area of instructional technology, to create an interdepartmental, cooperative work program. The program allowed for student authors to follow their work as it was utilized by the actors and directors from the drama department as well as students in film and television production. The new program was implemented in the 1973 academic school year.

Throughout Fass’ career at Syracuse University he continued to write screenplays and scripts for television, radio, and theater. His most notable work while at the University was The Third Day, which was a two-act drama about how people manipulate each other. The play was a finalist in the 1977 national playwriting competition for the Stanly Drama Award given by Wagner College. J.J. Boies, the director of the award committee, said it was chosen from “scores of meritorious scripts.”

Martin Fass died on August 25, 1981 doing what he was most passionate about. He passed away while working on the short story “The Adventures of Danny Brodie,” an autobiographical work of fiction about a boy in New York City during the late 1920’s.

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Scope and Content Note

The Martin Fass Papers spans 1933 to 1980 and is divided into five series: Books and Manuscripts, Radio/Television Scripts and Screenplays, Short Stories, Subject Files, and Syracuse University Public Relations.

The Books and Manuscripts Series includes items such as correspondence, notes, and manuscripts. The largest portion of the series is devoted to Martin Fass and Robert S. Allen’s biographical manuscript on the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt entitled “The Roosevelt Reader.”

The items in the Radio/Television Scripts and Screenplays Series consist largely of scripts for television and radio. Among the materials are several copies of The Third Day, which was a finalist in the national playwriting competition for the Stanly Drama Award. In addition there are correspondence between Martin Fass and his editors as well as notes and rough drafts relating to his scripts.

The Short Stories Series contains correspondence and drafts for many stories written for True Action, The Man’s Magazine and Male during Martin Fass’ time as a freelance writer.

The Subject Files Series comprises correspondence and other materials relating to the baseball lawsuit. There are also clippings of articles that were potential themes for his scripts and short stories. In addition there are newsletters and correspondence from the Radio Writers Guild relating to the Second Red Scare which lasted from 1947 to 1957.

The Syracuse University Public Relations Series contains materials such as correspondence, manuals, manuscripts, and other items concerning public relations at University College.

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Access Restrictions

Please note that the collection is housed off-site, and advance notice is required to allow time to have the materials brought to the Reading Room on campus.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

The Archives holds a clipping file on Martin Fass.

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Selected Search Terms


Fass, Martin.
Syracuse University.
Syracuse University. -- Newhouse (S. I.) School of Public Communications.
Syracuse University. -- University College.


Syracuse University -- Faculty.
Writers and their works.
College teachers.
Higher education.

Types of material

Radio scripts.
Short stories.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Martin Fass Papers,
University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

The Martin Fass Papers were donated to the Archives by Carrie Gannett in 1995.

Processing Information

All materials were placed in acid-free folders and boxes.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: Kyle C. Wilson
Date: 2007
Revision history: Processed and converted to EAD by Zachary Burnham, 2013.

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The items are arranged in alphabetical order within series.

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Books and Manuscripts
Box 1 Correspondence—The Roosevelt Reader 1949-1953
Box 1 FDR Press Conferences Section 1 1933-1942
Box 1 FDR Press Conferences Section 2 1942-1945
Box 1 FDR—Eliminated Materials (Not Used) undated
Box 1 FDR—Permissions 1949
Box 1 FDR—Working File 1949 (2 folders)
Box 1 Mr. President 1965
Box 1 Notes and Photostats, FDR Library, Hyde Park—Part 1 1951
Box 1 Notes and Photostats, FDR Library, Hyde Park—Part 2 1951
Box 1 Original Copy: The Roosevelt Reader undated (6 folders)
Box 1 Rejections—The Roosevelt Reader 1950-1951
Box 1 The Fortune Hunters undated
Box 1 The Roosevelt Reader—Miscellaneous undated
Radio/Television Scripts and Screenplays
Box 1 1/2 Hour T.V. Scripts undated
Box 1 Assignment Rescue—Operation Freedom undated
Box 1 CERB 1972
Box 1 Concrete Jungle undated
Box 2 Dracula undated
Box 2 False Witness (T.V.) (Religious) undated
Box 2 Furnished Apartments by Frances Menchin Goldshein 1953
Box 2 Harry Go Home! undated
Box 2 Ideas undated
Box 2 Jody Jeepers 1954
Box 2 Life is a Fountain undated (2 folders)
Box 2 Marathon undated
Box 2 Modern Monte Cristo undated
Box 2 Modern Monte Cristo (References) undated
Box 2 Modern Monte Cristo (T.V.) undated
Box 2 Nero Wolfe (Syndicated Comic) 1957
Box 2 Old Radio Plays undated
Box 2 Radio Plays undated (3 folders)
Box 2 Scripts (Specialized Radio and T.V.) undated (2 folders)
Box 2 Spiral Notebook with Outlines of Sketches undated
Box 2 T.V. and Radio: Concrete Jungle undated
Box 2 T.V. Outlines 1951
Box 2 The Clock/ Prescription for Death 1950
Box 2 The Locked Door undated
Box 2 The Long Road (Breakdown)—of Bernard Fleury undated
Box 2 The Third Day 1980 (3 folders)
Box 2 The Witness (Live T.V.) undated
Box 2 Working File 1952
Box 3 You Can't Win 'Em All undated (4 folders)
Short Stories
Box 3 Adventure (Australia) undated
Box 3 Adventure (Far East) 1960 (6 folders)
Box 3 Adventure (North Africa and Africa) undated (3 folders)
Box 3 Adventure (S. America) undated (2 folders)
Box 3 Adventure (South Seas) undated
Box 3 Adventure Europe undated
Box 3 Danny Brodie undated (Folders 1-10 of 12)
Box 4 Danny Brodie undated (Folders 11-12 of 12)
Box 4 Danny Brodie—Original Final Draft undated
Box 4 Destroyer Borie (Notes and Article) 1943-1960
Box 4 Fabulous Bets undated
Box 4 Greenwich Village (Hobohemia) undated
Box 4 Historical Adventure undated
Box 4 Husband Imposter undated
Box 4 I was King of the Illegal Diamond Racket undated
Box 4 Inwood House (Unwed Mothers) 1955
Box 4 Iroquois Theater Fire undated
Box 4 Iroquois Theater Fire (Notes) undated
Box 4 Louis De Rougemont (Notes, Pictures, and "True" Version) undated
Box 4 Naval Disasters WWII 1959-1967
Box 4 Naval Disasters—Thetis 1959
Box 4 Outlines—Stories and Articles 1949
Box 4 PQ-17 Naval Disasters 1959
Box 4 Profiles undated
Box 4 Public Huckster Number One: A Profile of Salvador Dali undated
Box 4 Rejects undated
Box 4 S. Dali and Others (Swank Magazine) 1939-1964
Box 4 Savo Island Naval Disasters 1960
Box 4 The Chameleon Who Couldn't Change Color 1966 (2 folders)
Box 4 The Four Thousand Mile Ordeal of Jerry Jenkins undated
Box 4 Typhoon 1944-1959 (2 folders)
Box 4 Typhoon—WWII undated
Box 4 USS Borie Notecards undated
Box 4 Whiskey Wingdings (Swank) undated
Box 4 World War II undated
Box 4 WWI The Lost Battalion undated
Box 4 WWII Adventures 1960 (2 folders)
Subject Files
Box 4 Baseball Lawsuit—Baseball Sales ACCHS 1954
Box 4 Baseball Lawsuit—How to Understand Baseball undated
Box 4 Clippings undated
Box 4 Correspondence undated
Box 4 Personal Materials 1935-1955
Box 4 Radio Writers Guild 1952-1959
Syracuse University Public Relations
Box 4 Baird undated
Box 4 Martin Fass: Syracuse Film Forum Board Meeting 1972-1973
Box 4 National University Extension Association Region 2, Distinguished Program Awards 1973-1974
Box 4 PR and Production—Syracuse Ballet undated
Box 4 Public Relations Manuscript 1972-1973
Box 4 Syracuse Ballet Theater: A Manual 1970-1971
Box 4 Syracuse—T.V. Correspondence 1967-1968

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