How "The Outsiders" Happened

The Outsiders cast!

In 1988 Susan Eloise Hinton won the first ever Young Adult/School Library Author Achievement Award for The Outsiders. If you haven't read it [What? You gotta be kidding me?? Chocolate cake for breakfast?? The best.] ...then run don't walk, and grab a copy.

In the spring of 1980, a librarian at Lone Star Jr. High School in Fresno, California, took courage in hand and wrote to Francis Coppola. She told him that the students and faculty of her school wanted him to make a movie from a book they all loved very much, The Outsiders, by S. E. Hinton. The librarian, Jo Ellen Misakian, wasn't sure of the director's current address, so she sent the letter, along with a copy of the book and a petition signed by the youngsters, to the New York offices of Paramount Pictures...

It was duly forwarded to Coppola's Zoetrope Studios in Los Angeles and, lo and behold, actually read. Not only read, but investigated by the director's long-time associate Fred Roos. Mr. Roos learned that the book was a bestseller in the field of adolescent literature and was taught in school systems throughout the country.

The Outsiders production information:

Once upon a time, back in 1965 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a teenage boy got beat up on his way home from school. A fairly common occurence, but with one difference: this boy had a friend named Susie with a penchant for writing, and the incident made her mad. She started a short story which quickly ballooned to forty pages as she shared her work-in-progress with classmates. When she got stuck, they'd make suggestions like "why don't you burn the church down?" And so she did. The story blossomed into a novel entitled The Outsiders, published, as if by unspoken teenage fiat, in 1967 by Viking Press. It was about teenagers growing up both "tuff" and tough, and the story told about poor boys without families called "greasers" in tragic conflict with kids from affluent backgrounds called "socs" (pronounced "soshes"). The name under the title was the gender-less "S.E. Hinton," the recommendation of a Viking female editor who didn't want the authenticity of the story doubted just because a girl wrote it.

By the following year, The Outsiders had become a "must-read" for kids in junior high and high school, and a genre of American literature called "young adult fiction" was never quite the same again.

-Via Zoetrope Films

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