Left: Donna Reed as Bess Macauley
Right: John Craven, Donna Reed, James Craig, Marsha Hunt, Dorothy Morris, and Van Johnson have no time for Mickey Rooney's telegrams

The Human Comedy

The Human Comedy is a slice of idealized life during World War II. It is based upon a story by William Saroyan.

Centered around the Macauley family, it follows the disembodied spirit of Mr. Macauley (dead from two years earlier) as he watches over the exploits and foibles of his lost Californian family. Children range in age from an adult solder, Marcas Macauley, to the youngest, a precocious four-year old named Ulysses. In between, there's the concerned college student, Bess (played by Donna Reed), and Mickey Rooney's Homer, a teenage telegram delivery boy. Homer delivers War Department notices to families about their lost or injured love ones. It is a stressful job on all involved, including Mr. Grogan, the drunk-yet-philosophical telegraph operator.

The naturally cute youngster, Jackie "Butch" Jenkins, stole many of his scenes with Mickey Rooney. They appeared together again later in the MGM film, National Velvet, that launched Elizabeth Taylor's career.

The Human Comedy garnered many praises after its release. It was nominated for several Academy Awards® in 1943:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Actor - Mickey Rooney
  • Best Director - Clarence Brown
  • Best B&W Cinematography - Harry Stradling
  • Best Original Story - William Saroyan

It won one Oscar® in all its categories - Best Original Story.


  • Homer Macauley - Mickey Rooney
  • Willie Grogan - Frank Morgan
  • Tom Spangler - James Craig
  • Diana Steed - Marsha Hunt
  • Mrs. Macauley - Fay Bainter
  • Mr. Macauley - Ray Collins
  • Marcus Macauley - Van Johnson
  • Bess Macauley - Donna Reed
  • Ulysses Macauley - Jackie "Butch" Jenkins
  • Mary Arena - Dorothy Morris
  • Tobey - John Craven
  • Lionel - Darryl Hickman
  • Fat - Barry Nelson
  • Miss Hicks - Mary Nash
  • Brad Stickman - Alan Baxter
  • Auggie - Carl "Alfafa" Switzer

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Today is 26 January 2021.