"To be one's self, and unafraid whether right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformity." -- Irving Wallace
Irving Wallace (March 19, 1916 - June 29, 1990) was an American bestselling author and screenwriter. His extensively researched books included such page-turners as The Chapman Report (1960), about human sexuality; The Prize (1962), a fictional behind-the-scenes account of the Nobel Prizes; The Man, about a black man becoming president of the U.S. in the 1960s; and The Word (1972), about the discovery of a new gospel.
Wallace was born in Chicago, Illinois to Bessie Liss and Alexander Wallace (an Americanized version of the original family name of Wallechinsky). The family was Jewish and originally from Russia, and he was named after his maternal grandfather, a bookkeeper and Talmudic scholar of Narewka. He grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he attended Kenosha Central High School. He was the father of Olympic historian David Wallechinsky and author Amy Wallace.
Wallace began selling stories to magazines when he was a teenager. In World War II Wallace served in the Capra unit in Fort Fox along with Theodor Seuss Geisel - more popularly known as Dr. Seuss - and continued to write for magazines. Soon, however, he turned to a more lucrative job as a Hollywood screenwriter. He collaborated on such films as The West Point Story (1950), Split Second (1953), Meet Me at the Fair (1953), and The Big Circus (1959).
After an unsatisfying stint in Hollywood, he devoted himself full-time to writing books. He published his first nonfiction work in 1955, The Fabulous Originals, and his first fiction offering, The Sins of Philip Fleming, in 1959. The latter, ignored by critics, was followed by the enormously successful The Chapman Report.
Wallace was a prolific author and published 33 books during his lifetime, all translated into 31 different languages.
Irving Wallace was married to Sylvia Wallace, a former magazine writer and editor. Her first novel, The Fountains, was an American best seller and published in twelve foreign editions. Her second novel, Empress, was published in 1980. She also helped produce, along with their two children, The Book of Lists#2. Sylvia Wallace died October 20, 2006 at the age of 89.
Several of Wallace's books have been made into films. Among his best known books are The Chapman Report (1960), The Prize (1962), The Word (1972) and The Fan Club (1974). He also produced some notable non-fiction works, including several editions of The People's Almanac and The Book of Lists.