John Frederick (Fred) Ballard was born in Grafton, Nebraska in 1884 and moved with his parents to Havelock, Nebraska in 1891. Ballard enrolled at the University of Nebraska in 1900 and graduated in 1905 with a Bachelor's degree in Literature. He completed a Master's degree in English Literature in 1907. His thesis was entitled "The History and Tendancy of American Drama." After college he moved to Chicago on the advice of playwright Charles Klein to work in theaters and study the theater industry in order to become a playwright. Ballard's experience in Chicago gave him an idea of how successful plays were written, acted, and produced. Shortly thereafter he wrote Believe me, Xantippe, a play that won the John Craig, Harvard Prize and would eventually star actor John Barrymore on Broadway and become a motion picture. Ballard also earned another Master's degree from Harvard. He continued to write plays and many eventually became movies. Some of his more successful plays were: Believe me, Xantippe, Young America, Ladies of the Jury, What's Wrong, We, the People, A Rainy Day, Out of Luck, The Cyclone Lover, 320 College Avenue and Dollars and Chickens.