|SCREENWRITER, NOVELIST (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)|
BORN 28 Feb 1894, New York City, New York - DIED 18 Apr 1964, New York City, New York|
CAUSE OF DEATH heart attack
GRAVE LOCATION Nyack, New York: Oak Hill Cemetery, 140 North Highland Avenue (Near the grave of Helen Hayes and Charles MacArthur)
Ben Hecht was the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia. He went to highschool in Racine, Wisconsin. He was a talented child and was playing the violin when he was ten and worked as a circus acrobat when he was twelve. After he left highschool in 1910 he went to Chicago where initially he lived with relatives and soon found a job as a reporter.
In 1915 he married Marie Armstrong and their daughter Edwina Armstrong became an actress. After the First World War he was sent to Berlin by the Chicago Daily News. In Berlin he wrote his first novel, "Eri Dorn" (1921). It was a success. In 1925 he divorced Marie and in the same year he married Rose Caylor.
After he met another reporter, Charles MacArthur, they went to New York together to work on a play, "The Front Page". It was a great success after it opened on Broadway in 1928 and ran for 281 performances. In 1929 he won the first Academy Award for best original story for "Underworld" (1927). In 1931 a film version of "The Front Page" followed. More successful screenplays followed, among them "Scarface" (1932), "Gone with the Wind" (1939), "Wuthering Heights" (1939, with MacArthur) and for Alfred Hitchkock he wrote "Spellbound" (1945) and "Notorious" (1946). For "The Scoundrel" (1935) he won another Oscar, together with MacArthur.
In 1943 he had a daughter with Rose, the actress Jenny Hecht (she died in 1971 of a drug overdose). Between 1948 and 1951 he was on a black list in England because he had criticised the British policies in Palestine. In 1954 he published an autobiography, "A Child of the Century". After he died in 1964 he was buried close to MacArthur in Nyack, near New York City. Rose survived him until 1979 and she and Jenny were buried beside him.
Daughter: Hecht, Jenny
Wife: Caylor, Rose (1925-1964)
cooperated with MacArthur, Charles