Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Ben Hecht  

Pen Name: None

Genre: C:ADULT

Born: February 28, 1894 in New York City

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Illinois Connection

Hecht worked at Chicago Journal, Chicago Daily News, and Chicago Literary Times between 1910 and 1924.

Biographical and Professional Information

Ben Hecht worked as a reporter in Chicago. He moved from journalism to a successful career as a novelist, Broadway playwright and prolific Hollywood screenwriter. As a writer for the ''Chicago Daily News'', he wrote a column that became the basis for the collection of sketches, ''A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago''. Hecht's greatest theatrical success was ''The Front Page'' (1928), written with Charles MacArthur and set in a Chicago newsroom. The play set the image of the tough, wisecracking newspaperman for decades. Moving to Hollywood, Hecht wrote, co-wrote or adapted some of the most successful movies of the 1930s, including the film version of ''The Front Page'' (1931), ''Nothing Sacred'' (1937), ''Gunga Din'' (1938) and ''Wuthering Heights'' (1939). Some of Hecht's liveliest writing about his Chicago years appears in ''Gaily, Gaily'' (1963; filmed in 1969), ''Letters from Bohemia'' (1946) and his autobiography, ''Child of the Century'' (1954).Hecht was called "the most influential writer in the history of American movies." He was nominated six times for the Academy Award, winning twice - in 1929 for ''The Scoundrel'' and in 1936 for ''Underworld''.


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Awards

-- *Name engraved on the frieze of the Illinois State Library alongside other great Illinois literary figures, 1990 *Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, 2013