'True story' claimed to have inspired 12 Angry Men is revealed as a work of pure fiction 


‘True story’ that 12 Angry Men writer claimed inspired the classic film is revealed as a work of pure fiction

  • New research suggests the ‘true story’ 12 Angry men is based on was fiction
  • Reginald Rose claimed he wrote the film based on account of jury he served on
  • Professor Phil Rosenzweig claims to have found the trial in question
  • However, Reginald Rose was not listed as one of the jurors on case in question 


New research suggests that the story which the 12 Angry Men writer claimed inspired him is actually a work of fiction.

The 1957 film, which was written by Reginald Rose, focused on the story of 12 members of a jury as they debated whether to convict of acquit an 18-year-old defendant.

Henry Fonda stars as the lone individual attempting to convince his fellow jury members to acquit the teenager of the killing of his father.

The film wrestles with issues such as morality, racism and the legal concept of reasonable doubt. 

New research suggests that the story which the 12 Angry Men (pictured) writer claimed inspired him is actually a work of fiction

New research suggests that the story which the 12 Angry Men (pictured) writer claimed inspired him is actually a work of fiction

Professor Phil Rosenzweig

Professor Phil Rosenzweig

However, Professor Phil Rosenzweig, who is penning an upcoming biography, managed to identify the court case which the film is allegedly based on – only to discover Rose did not serve on the jury, The Telegraph reports.

The business professor at the Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, used clues previously mentioned by Rose to identify the case – he believes Rose was talking about.

Rose never directly named the case his story was claimed to have been based on.

But Professor Rosenzweig believes the case in question was the trial of The People v. William Viragh, at Foley Square courthouse in spring 1954. 

Professor Rosenzweig could not find Rose listed as a juror for the trial, and speaking about his findings, said that Rose could have been summoned for jury service but ultimately not picked for the trial in question.

He said: ‘He must have been at court to even know about this case because it involves the death of a very obscure person.

‘It was not reported in newspapers. As a good dramatist, he used his imagination.’    

Professor Rosenzweig’s research is set to be published in Reginald Rose and the Journey of 12 Angry Men on September 28.

Professor Rosenzweig, who is penning an upcoming biography, managed to identify the court case which the film is allegedly based on - only to discover Rose (pictured) did not serve on the jury

Professor Rosenzweig, who is penning an upcoming biography, managed to identify the court case which the film is allegedly based on – only to discover Rose (pictured) did not serve on the jury

In 2012, Jack Klugman became the last of the actors who portrayed the dozen jurors from the seminal Hollywood classic to die.

Klugman portrayed juror number five – none of the 12 men are named in the film except two at the very end – whose slum upbringing gives him an insight into the case that none of the other men have.

He starred alongside acting heavyweights and Oscar winners such as Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam and Ed Begley.

It was the first film directed by Sidney Lumet, who went on to direct a string of hit films, including Dog Day Afternoon, Network and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.

In 2007, 12 Angry Men, which was adapted from a play, was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’.

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