With Lillian Hellman, Odets remains one of the foremost U.S. dramatists of the 1930s. Born in Philadelphia, he became an actor about 1923 and joined the Group Theatre upon its founding in 1930. From then until its collapse in 1940, the Group Theatre produced seven plays by Odets, all of which reflect the Depression era in which they were written. His first play, Waiting for Lefty (1935), an agitprop play about strikers, was an enormous success. Most of his other plays of the 1930s, most notably Awake and Sing (1935) and Paradise Lost (1935), concern the economic and psychological plight of poor New York City Jewish families and heighten middle-class Jewish speech into a kind of poetry. After the collapse of the Group Theatre, Odets produced only four more plays. Odets was criticized, however, for betraying his leftist sympathies when he named names before the House Un-American Activities Committee during the McCarthy era.