Grew Up In: Racine, WI
You Know Him As: The Shakespeare of Hollywood
Did you know?: Ben Hecht won an Academy Award for best original story (“Underworld”) at the very first Oscar ceremony in 1929.
Ben Hecht (1894–1964) was an American screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, and novelist. Called “the Shakespeare of Hollywood”, he received screen credits, alone or in collaboration, for the stories or screenplays of some seventy films and as a prolific storyteller, authored thirty-five books and created some of the most entertaining screenplays and plays in America. Film historian Richard Corliss called him “the” Hollywood screenwriter, someone who “personified Hollywood itself.” The Dictionary of Literary Biography – American Screenwriters calls him “one of the most successful screenwriters in the history of motion pictures.” The family moved to Racine, Wisconsin, when Hecht was young, where he attended local schools.
In his career, he is known to have written over 150 screenplays, several of them uncredited. Some of his most famous credited works include “Scarface” (1932), “Gunga Din” (1939), “Wuthering Heights” (1939), “Spellbound” (1945), “Notorious” (1946)
He has also been included as an uncredited writer on such classics as “Gone With The Wind” (1939), “Rope” (1948) and “The Man With The Golden Arm” (1955).