Richard Edward Connell, Jr. (October 17, 1893 – November 22, 1949) was an American author and journalist, best known for his short story "The Most Dangerous Game." Connell was one of the best-known American short story writers of his time and his stories appeared in the Saturday Evening Post and Collier's Weekly. Connell had equal success as a journalist and screenwriter. He was nominated for an Academy Award in 1942 for best original story for the film Meet John Doe.
Richard Connell was the son of Richard Edward Connel Sr. (1857–1912) and Mary Miller Connel, born on October 17, 1893 in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, New York. He had an older sister and two younger sisters. His father was a reporter and editor of the local newspaper. Connell Sr. took the position of police commissioner in Poughkeepsie and thus began his political career. In 1896, he was unsuccessful in a bid for the 55th United States Congress and failed again in 1898 and 1900 when he ran for the State assembly. He did become a delegate to the Democratic National Convention where he served in 1900 and 1904. Eventually Richard’s father won an election for the 62nd United States Congress in March 4, 1911 where he served until his death a year later on October 30, 1912. (He had been nominated in 1912 as the Democratic candidate for reelection to the Sixty-third Congress.)
At 10 years of age, while his father was still an editor for the New York Times, Richard Connell’s own interest was his writings. His stories earned him 10 cents each in addition to his coverage for baseball games. His love for the game later inspired short stories like "The Umps" and "Pitchers Are Peculiar". By the age of 18 he earned a position as city editor of the paper, increasing his pay to $16 a week. Richard attended Georgetown College (now University) in Washington, D.C., but left a year later in 1911 to become a secretary for his father, Richard Edward Connell. After his father's death one year later, in 1912, when he was 22, Richard returned to college; this time to Harvard University, where he became an editor for the Harvard Lampoon and The Harvard Crimson. In one of his stories for The Crimson, Richard berated a New York newspaper editor who became enraged over the criticism and sued the Harvard newspaper for libel. Ironically, after graduating in 1915, Connell accepted a job working for the same newspaper editor who had sued over his editorial. While working as a reporter for the New York American, Connell received an attractive offer from the J. Walter Thompson Company and left the newspaper business to write advertising copy.
After the United States entered World War I in 1917, Connell enlisted and served with the 27th New York Division, where he offered his talents as the editor of the camp newspaper, Gas Attack. His unit also spent a year in France. When the war ended, Connell returned to his job of writing ad copy. Many of his short stories, such as "Heart of a Sloganeer" and "Once a Sloganeer" find their roots in his experiences with advertising.
In 1919 Richard Connell married Louise Herrick Fox; that year he also sold his first short story and left advertising to pursue freelance writing. He wrote several short stories including "A Friend of Napoleon" and "The Most Dangerous Game" (1924), sometimes known as "The Hounds of Zaroff", which originally appeared in the January 19, 1924 issue of Colliers. "The Most Dangerous Game" was awarded the O. Henry Award in 1924. Connell became one of the best-known American short story writers; his stories appeared in the Saturday Evening Post and Collier's Weekly.
He was nominated for an Academy Award for best original story for 1941's Meet John Doe, , directed by Frank Capra, which starred Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. Connell had equal success as a journalist and screenwriter. He died in Beverly Hills, California at the age of fifty-six of a heart attack on November 22, 1949.