“Mr. Riggs’ play is the wellspring of almost all that is good in ‘Oklahoma!’ I kept many of the lines of the original play without making any changes in them at all for the simple reason that they could not be improved on.”
Lynn Riggs was part Cherokee and a native of the Claremore area, where he graduated from high school. He then traveled to Chicago, New York, and finally Los Angeles, where he secured a job as a proofreader for the Los Angeles Times. After he sold an article to the McClure Syndicate, Riggs returned to Oklahoma and enrolled at the University of Oklahoma. He sang second tenor in the Men’s Glee Club and washed dishes at the Pi Kappa Alpha house for his room and board. In the fall of 1923 Lynn began teaching two classes of Freshman English, but later withdrew because of case of tuberculosis and traveled to New Mexico. He built an adobe home in Santa Fe and completed several plays and a number of drafts. One of his most famous plays, Green Grow the Lilacs, later became the stage musical hit Oklahoma!, with music by Richard Rodgers and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, which premiered on Broadway in 1943.
The 50th anniversary of the Broadway musical “Oklahoma!” was honored by the U.S. Postal Service in March of 1993 with a commemorative stamp, making it the first musical ever honored with a postage stamp.
Riggs was born and raised near Claremore, Oklahoma.