Hecht, Ben

Hecht, Ben hĕkt [key], 1894–1964, American writer, b. New York City. He grew up in Wisconsin and, while still in his teens, worked on newspapers in Chicago. Early in his career he became involved in the Chicago literary movement of the time, founding in 1923 the Chicago Literary Times, an iconoclastic review that he edited for two years. A stormy and controversial figure, Hecht was known for a variety of literary and theatrical activities. He wrote novels, short-story collections, and plays, and he wrote, directed, and produced for the motion-picture industry. During four decades, he worked on some 200 movies. With Charles MacArthur, he collaborated on several film scripts and plays, of which The Front Page (1928), an irreverent drama of newspaper life, is the most famous. His other credits include Twentieth Century (1934), Wuthering Heights (1939), Spellbound (1945), and Notorious (1946). Hecht also served as a “script doctor” on many films. In the 1940s he devoted himself to a nationwide campaign that pressured the Roosevelt administration to rescue European Jews from the Nazi extermination.

See his autobiography, A Child of the Century (1954); biographies by J. Gorbach (2019) and A. Hoffman (2019).

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