Filmography of Marguerite Roberts

Filmography of

Marguerite Roberts

(1905 - 1989)

wife photo

Career Highlights

Marguerite Roberts had little preparation for a career as a screenwriter. Beyond high school, she had only a two-month secretarial course at a business college in Colorado. During the early 1920s, Roberts and her husband traveled around the Southwest United States selling imitation pearls. However, business dried up and left them marooned in El Centro, California. Roberts found work as a reporter for the local paper. Later, abandoning her marriage, Roberts moved to Los Angeles, where a sister of hers was living.

Roberts got a job as a secretary at Fox-Western, and later was promoted to script-reader. With a fellow script-reader, Roberts proposed her first screenplay. Later, Roberts worked under contract at Paramount, where she met her second husband, John Sanford. In 1939, Roberts signed the first of a string of contracts with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer that would make her one of the most respected and highest paid screenwriters in Hollywood. She wrote screenplays for Katharine Hepburn, Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Gregory Peck and Spencer Tracy. In 1941, Roberts co-wrote the Gable-Turner western Honky Tonk with Sanford.

In 1951, Roberts was called before the U. S. House Committee on Un-American Activities. She took the Fifth Amendment and declined to answer questions about whether she had been a member of the Communist party. This decision placed her on the film industry's Blacklist, making her unemployable. Sanford and Roberts traveled to England, where Roberts unsuccessfully attempted to find work as an expatriate. The couple returned to the United States, where they began ten years of anguishing internal exile, in which Roberts could not ply the profession that she loved.

Finally, in 1961, Roberts became one of the first blacklisted screenwriters to be offered a studio contract, when she accepted employment at Columbia. In 1969, Roberts wrote the screenplay for True Grit, which won John Wayne his only Oscar. Roberts retired from screenwriting in 1971.


1933Sailor's Luck
1933Jimmy and Sally
1934Peck's Bad Boy
1935College Scandal
1935Men Without Names
1935The Last Outpost
1936Rose Bowl
1936Forgotten Faces
1936Florida Special
1936Hollywood Boulevard
1937Wild Money(uncredited)
1937Turn Off the Moon
1938Meet the Girls
1939They Shall Have Music(uncredited)
1941Ziegfeld Girl
1941Honky Tonk
1942Somewhere I'll Find You
1944Dragon Seed
1947Desire Me
1947The Sea of Grass
1948If Winter Comes
1949The Bribe
1951Soldiers Three
1952Ivanhoe(credit restored)
1953The Girl Who Had Everything(uncredited)
1962The Man Attraction(uncredited)
1962Diamond Head
1965Love Has Many Faces
19685 Card Stud
1969True Grit
1971Red Sky at Morning
1971Shoot Out


The information on this page comes from the writings of John Sanford, an interview of Roberts by Tina Daniell, published in Tender Comrades, and an article by film historian Joseph McBride, "A Woman with True Grit," originally published in the Writers Guild Magazine, Written By, in November 1999. Prof. McBride's article is reprinted as the afterword of John Sanford's last book, A Palace of Silver. It is also reprinted in McBride's newly published Two Cheers for Hollywood: Joseph McBride on Movies, which includes a long essay on Sanford.

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A Palace of SilverCapra Press2003eBook


Much of John Sanford's writing has been dedicated to describing his life with Maggie Roberts. In Maggie: A Love Story, Sanford covers the span of their relationship. We Have a Little Sister is something of a prequel, in which Sanford imaginatively reconstructs Maggie's life prior to their meeting.

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Maggie: A Love StoryBarricade Books1993eBook

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We Have a Little SisterCapra Press1995out of print

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Text & photos copyright © Jack Mearns, 2003-2021. All rights reserved.

rev. 9/3/21