Joseph Urban was an Austrian-American architect and scenic designer. Joseph Urban was born on May 1872 in Vienna. Urban received his first architectural commission at age 19 when he was selected to design the new wing of the Abdin Palace in Cairo, he became known around the world for his innovative use of color, his pointillist technique, his decorative use of line. He designed buildings throughout the world from Esterhazy Castle in Hungary to the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York. Urban studied architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna under Karl von Hasenauer. In 1890, he and his brother-in-law, Heinrich Lefler, were among the founders of the Hagenbund. Urban's early work with illustrated books was inspired by Lefler and, they created what are considered seminal examples of children's book illustration. Urban immigrated to the United States in 1911 to become the art director of the Boston Opera Company, he was an accomplished international architect and theatre set designer with over 50 productions from his home Vienna Royal Opera, the Champs Elysée Opera, Covent Garden.
By applying points of primary colors side by side on the canvas backdrops he was able to create and light theatre sets of vivid color reminiscent of the works by Monet or Seurat. In 1914 he moved to New York City, where he designed productions for the Metropolitan Opera and the Ziegfeld Follies. William Randolph Hearst was supporter, he co-produced with Richard Ordynski Percy MacKaye's "Community Masque" Caliban by the Yellow Sands. Beginning in 1917, he was engaged as stage designer by the Metropolitan Opera of New York City. In all he created set designs for 47 new productions at the house through 1933, his many designs provided the opera company with a cohesive production style throughout the tenure of General Manager Giulio Gatti-Casazza. Many of Urban's settings remained in the company's repertoire into the 1950s. Soon his sets and innovative lighting caught the eye of Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. who hired him to design the Follies in the 1920s. Urban went to work creating a stunning night-club with glass balconies, a moving stage, rainbow lighting effects.
This Danse de Follies soon became a blend of ideas and talent before serving in the Follies theatre. Urban has success after success in his creating of the Follies’ sets, William Randolph Hearst, a media tycoon, took notice and wanted to hire Urban to work on his films starring Marion Davies, his mistress, previous Follies starlet. Hearst came to an understanding with his friend Ziegfeld that Urban’s work for him would not interfere with any of the Follies production. Urban worked on 25 films over the years, he co-produced with Richard Ordynski Percy MacKaye's "Community Masque" Caliban by the Yellow Sands. Urban died July 10, 1933, of a heart attack at his apartment at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan, where he had been convalescing following surgery in May. Urban was one of the originators of the American Art Deco style. Most of his architectural work in the United States has been demolished. Extant buildings include the Mar-a-Lago in Florida; the stage lighting gel Roscolux Urban Blue. This partial list omits unrealized projects.
1900: Wohn- und Bürohaus Wien 8, Buchfeldgasse 6 1902: Villa Goltz, Wien 19, Grinzinger Straße 87 1903: Villa Wiener, Wien 13, Veitingergasse 21 1904: Exhibition space, Austrian Pavilion, Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, Missouri 1907: Villa Redlich, Wien 19, Kreindlgasse 11 1907: Wohnhaus, Wien 19, Krottenbachstraße 11 1907: Villa Max Landau, Semmering, Südbahnstraße 83 1910: Villa Dr. Mair, Scheiblingkirchen, Kreuzackergasse 43 1920: Sherman Hotel Panther Room, Chicago 1922: Wiener Werkstätte showroom, New York City 1925: C. C. Lightbown House, 4839 Colorado Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, Permit #7278, March 10, 1925, cost $25,000. 1926: Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida 1926: Demarest Little Castle, Palm Beach, Florida 1926: Paramount Theatre, Palm Beach, Florida 1927: Anthony Biddle residence, Palm Beach, Florida 1927: Bath and Tennis Club, Palm Beach, Florida 1927: Ziegfeld Theatre, New York City 1926–27: St. Regis Hotel Roof Garden 1928: Hotel Gibson Roof Garden, Ohio 1928: Bossert Hotel, Grill Room, Brooklyn 1928: Bedell Store, New York City 1928–29: William Penn Hotel, Urban Room, Pennsylvania 1929: International Magazine Building, New York City 1929: Central Park Casino 1929: Metropolitan Museum of Art 11th annual exhibition of American Industrial Art 1929: The Gingerbread Castle, New Jersey 1930: The New School for Social Research, New York City 1929–31: Atlantic Beach Club, Long Island, New York 1931: Park Avenue Restaurant, 128 E 58th Street 1932: Congress Hotel, Joseph Urban Room, Illinois 1929: Urban Room, Omni William Penn Hotel, Pennsylvania 1933: Katherine Brush Apartment 1933: Color scheme for the Century of Progress International Exposition 1905: Grimm's Märchen 1907: Kling-Klang Gloria 1911: Andersen Kalender 1914: Marienkind Randolph, Carter.
Joseph Urban: Architecture, Opera, Film. Abbeville Publishing Group. ISBN 0-89659-912-4. Aronson, Arnold. Architect of Dreams: The Theatrical Vision of Joseph Urban. NY NY: Columbia University. ISBN 1-884919-08-1. Goldberger, Paul. "At the Cooper-Hewitt, Designs of Joseph Urban". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-22. "Joseph Urban". Architecture. LXIX: 251–290. May 1934. Curl, Donald W. "Joseph Urban's Palm Beach Architecture"
The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Broadway Theatre, more known as the Tony Award, recognizes excellence in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in Manhattan; the awards are given for Broadway productions and performances, an award is given for regional theatre. Several discretionary non-competitive awards are given, including a Special Tony Award, the Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre, the Isabelle Stevenson Award; the awards are named after co-founder of the American Theatre Wing. The rules for the Tony Awards are set forth in the official document "Rules and Regulations of The American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards", which applies for that season only; the Tony Awards are considered the highest U. S. theatre honor, the New York theatre industry's equivalent to the Academy Awards for film, the Emmy Awards for television, the Grammy Awards for music. It forms the fourth spoke in the EGOT, that is, someone who has won all four awards.
The Tony Awards are considered the equivalent of the Laurence Olivier Awards in the United Kingdom and the Molière Awards in France. From 1997 to 2010, the Tony Awards ceremony was held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in June and broadcast live on CBS television, except in 1999, when it was held at the Gershwin Theatre. In 2011 and 2012, the ceremony was held at the Beacon Theatre. From 2013 to 2015, the 67th, 68th, 69th ceremonies returned to Radio City Music Hall; the 70th Tony Awards was held on June 2016 at the Beacon Theatre. The 71st Tony Awards and 72nd Tony Awards were held at Radio City Music Hall in 2017 and 2018, respectively; as of 2014, there are 26 categories of awards, plus several special awards. Starting with 11 awards in 1947, the names and number of categories have changed over the years; some examples: the category Best Book of a Musical was called "Best Author". The category of Best Costume Design was one of the original awards. For two years, in 1960 and 1961, this category was split into Best Costume Designer and Best Costume Designer.
It went to a single category, but in 2005 it was divided again. For the category of Best Director of a Play, a single category was for directors of plays and musicals prior to 1960. A newly established non-competitive award, The Isabelle Stevenson Award, was given for the first time at the awards ceremony in 2009; the award is for an individual who has made a "substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations". The category of Best Special Theatrical Event was retired as of the 2009–2010 season; the categories of Best Sound Design of a Play and Best Sound Design of a Musical were retired as of the 2014–2015 season. On April 24, 2017, the Tony Awards administration committee announced that the Sound Design Award would be reintroduced for the 2017–2018 season; the award was founded in 1947 by a committee of the American Theatre Wing headed by Brock Pemberton. The award is named after Antoinette Perry, nicknamed Tony, an actress, producer and co-founder of the American Theatre Wing, who died in 1946.
As her official biography at the Tony Awards website states, "At Jacob Wilk's suggestion, proposed an award in her honor for distinguished stage acting and technical achievement. At the initial event in 1947, as he handed out an award, he called it a Tony; the name stuck."The first awards ceremony was held on April 6, 1947, at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City. The first prizes were "a scroll, cigarette lighter and articles of jewelry such as 14-carat gold compacts and bracelets for the women, money clips for the men", it was not until the third awards ceremony in 1949 that the first Tony medallion was given to award winners. Awarded by a panel of 868 voters from various areas of the entertainment industry and press. Since 1967, the award ceremony has been broadcast on U. S. national television and includes songs from the nominated musicals, has included video clips of, or presentations about, nominated plays. The American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League jointly administer the awards.
Audience size for the telecast is well below that of the Academy Awards shows, but the program reaches an affluent audience, prized by advertisers. According to a June 2003 article in The New York Times: "What the Tony broadcast does have, say CBS officials, is an all-important demographic: rich and smart. Jack Sussman, CBS's senior vice president in charge of specials, said the Tony show sold all its advertising slots shortly after CBS announced it would present the three hours.'It draws upscale premium viewers who are attractive to upscale premium advertisers,' Mr. Sussman said..." The viewership has declined from the early years of its broadcast history but has settled into between six and eight million viewers for most of the decade of the 2000s. In contrast, the 2009 Oscar telecast had 36.3 million viewers. The Tony Award medallion was designed by art director Herman Rosse and is a mix of brass and a little bronze, with a nickel plating on the outside; the face of the medallion portrays an adaptation of the tragedy masks.
The reverse side had a relief profile of Antoinette Perry. The medallion has been mounted on a black base since 1967. A larger base was introduced in time for the 2010 award ceremony; the n
Carl Jules Weyl
Carl Jules Weyl was a German art director. He won an Oscar in the category Best Art Direction for the film The Adventures of Robin Hood, he was nominated in the same category for the film Mission to Moscow. Weyl was born in Germany, his father, Karl Friedrich Weyl, was an architect and field engineer of the Gotthard Rail Tunnel through the Alps. Carl Jules Weyl studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris after architectural training in Berlin and Munich, he served as a first lieutenant of infantry in the German Reichswehr, according to his World War I draft registration card. Weyl immigrated to the US on 31 March 1912, according to his 1933 petition for citizenship, on the SS Königin Luise, he worked as an architect in California, first in San Francisco for the architect John W. Reid, Jr. a designer of the San Francisco Civic Center and many schools. Weyl moved to Los Angeles in 1923, where he designed the Brown Derby Restaurant #2, the Hollywood Playhouse, the Gaylord Apartments, as well as many other buildings and Hollywood estates.
Weyl was best man at the Beverly Hills wedding of film comedian Harry Langdon in 1929. When the Depression hit and building commissions dried up, Weyl joined Cecil B. DeMille Productions Warner Bros. as an art director. Weyl worked as an assistant to Anton Grot and Robert M. Haas, his first set for Warner Bros was the fountain in Footlight Parade. Weyl died in California, he is interred in Glendale. The Adventures of Robin Hood Mission to Moscow Carl Jules Weyl on IMDb Carl Jules Weyl at AllMovie
Austin Cedric Gibbons was an American art director and production designer for the film industry. He made a significant contribution to motion picture theater architecture from the 1930s to 1950s. Gibbons designed the Oscar statuette in 1928, but tasked the sculpting to George Stanley, a Los Angeles artist, he was nominated 39 times for the Academy Award for Best Production Design and won the Oscar 11 times, both of which are records. Austin Cedric Gibbons was born in New York City to architect Austin P. Gibbons and Veronica Fitzpatrick Simmons who moved to New York at the turn of the century, he was tutored and studied at the Art Students League of New York. In 1911 he began working in his father's office as a junior draftsman. Art director at Edison Studios in New Jersey from 1915, he served in the US Navy during World War I, he joined Goldwyn Studios, began a long career with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1924, when the studio was founded. Gibbons was one of the original 36 founding members of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and designed the Academy Awards statuette in 1928.
A trophy for which he himself would be nominated 38 times, winning 11. He retired from MGM as director and the head of the art department in 1956 with about 1,500 films credited to him. So, his actual hands-on art direction is considerable and his contributions lasting. In 1930, Gibbons married actress Dolores del Río and co-designed their house in Santa Monica, an intricate Art Deco residence influenced by Rudolf Schindler, they divorced in 1941. Gibbons' second cousin Frederick Gibbons—a musician, orchestra conductor, entertainer who worked with him at MGM—was the father of Billy Gibbons of the rock band ZZ Top. On July 26, 1960, Gibbons died in Los Angeles at age 70, he is buried in East Los Angeles. Gibbons' set designs those in such films as Born to Dance and Rosalie inspired motion picture theater architecture in the late 1930s through 1950s; the style is found clearly in the theaters that were managed by the Skouras brothers, whose designer Carl G. Moeller used the sweeping scroll-like details in his creations.
Among the more classic examples are the Loma Theater in San Diego, The Crest theaters in Long Beach and Fresno, the Culver Theater in Culver City, all of which are in California and some extant. The style is sometimes referred to as Art Moderne; the iconic Oscar statuettes that Gibbons designed, which were first awarded in 1929, are still being presented to winners at Academy Awards ceremonies each year. Art Directors Guild Hall of Fame "Cedric Gibbons Architect of Style", LA Modernism catalog, May 2006, pp. 16–17 by Jeffrey Head Cedric Gibbons on IMDb
Hollywood is a neighborhood in the central region of Los Angeles, notable as the home of the U. S. film industry, including several of its historic studios. Its name has come to be a shorthand reference for the people associated with it. Hollywood was incorporated as a municipality in 1903, it was consolidated with the city of Los Angeles in 1910 and soon thereafter, a prominent film industry emerged becoming the most recognizable film industry in the world. In 1853, one adobe hut stood in Nopalera, named for the Mexican Nopal cactus indigenous to the area. By 1870, an agricultural community flourished; the area was known as the Cahuenga Valley, after the pass in the Santa Monica Mountains to the north. According to the diary of H. J. Whitley known as the "Father of Hollywood", on his honeymoon in 1886 he stood at the top of the hill looking out over the valley. Along came a Chinese man in a wagon carrying wood; the man bowed. The Chinese man was asked what he was doing and replied, "I holly-wood," meaning'hauling wood.'
H. J. Whitley decided to name his new town Hollywood. "Holly" would represent England and "wood" would represent his Scottish heritage. Whitley had started over 100 towns across the western United States. Whitley arranged to buy the 480 acres E. C. Hurd ranch, they shook hands on the deal. Whitley shared his plans for the new town with General Harrison Gray Otis, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, Ivar Weid, a prominent businessman in the area. Daeida Wilcox learned of the name Hollywood from Ivar Weid, her neighbor in Holly Canyon and a prominent investor and friend of Whitley's, she recommended the same name to Harvey. H. Wilcox, who had purchased 120 acres on February 1, 1887, it wasn't until August 1887 Wilcox decided to use that name and filed with the Los Angeles County Recorder's office on a deed and parcel map of the property. The early real-estate boom busted at the end of that year. By 1900, the region had a post office, newspaper and two markets. Los Angeles, with a population of 102,479 lay 10 miles east through the vineyards, barley fields, citrus groves.
A single-track streetcar line ran down the middle of Prospect Avenue from it, but service was infrequent and the trip took two hours. The old citrus fruit-packing house was converted into a livery stable, improving transportation for the inhabitants of Hollywood; the Hollywood Hotel was opened in 1902 by H. J. Whitley, a president of the Los Pacific Boulevard and Development Company. Having acquired the Hurd ranch and subdivided it, Whitley built the hotel to attract land buyers. Flanking the west side of Highland Avenue, the structure fronted on Prospect Avenue, still a dusty, unpaved road, was graded and graveled; the hotel was to become internationally known and was the center of the civic and social life and home of the stars for many years. Whitley's company sold one of the early residential areas, the Ocean View Tract. Whitley did much to promote the area, he paid thousands of dollars for electric lighting, including bringing electricity and building a bank, as well as a road into the Cahuenga Pass.
The lighting ran for several blocks down Prospect Avenue. Whitley's land was centered on Highland Avenue, his 1918 development, Whitley Heights, was named for him. Hollywood was incorporated as a municipality on November 14, 1903, by a vote of 88 for and 77 against. On January 30, 1904, the voters in Hollywood decided, by a vote of 113 to 96, for the banishment of liquor in the city, except when it was being sold for medicinal purposes. Neither hotels nor restaurants were allowed to serve liquor before or after meals. In 1910, the city voted for merger with Los Angeles in order to secure an adequate water supply and to gain access to the L. A. sewer system. With annexation, the name of Prospect Avenue changed to Hollywood Boulevard and all the street numbers were changed. By 1912, major motion-picture companies had set up production in Los Angeles. In the early 1900s, most motion picture patents were held by Thomas Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company in New Jersey, filmmakers were sued to stop their productions.
To escape this, filmmakers began moving out west to Los Angeles, where attempts to enforce Edison's patents were easier to evade. The weather was ideal and there was quick access to various settings. Los Angeles became the capital of the film industry in the United States; the mountains and low land prices made Hollywood a good place to establish film studios. Director D. W. Griffith was the first to make a motion picture in Hollywood, his 17-minute short film In Old California was filmed for the Biograph Company. Although Hollywood banned movie theaters—of which it had none—before annexation that year, Los Angeles had no such restriction; the first film by a Hollywood studio, Nestor Motion Picture Company, was shot on October 26, 1911. The H. J. Whitley home was used as its set, the unnamed movie was filmed in the middle of their groves at the corner of Whitley Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard; the first studio in Hollywood, the Nestor Company, was established by the New Jersey–based Centaur Company in a roadhouse at 6121 Sunset Boulevard, in October 1911.
Four major film companies – Paramount, Warner Bros. RKO, Columbia – had studios in Hollywood, as did several minor companies and rental studios. In the 1920s, Hollywood was the fifth-largest industry in the nation. By the 1930s, Hollywood studios became vertically integrated, as production and exhibition was controlled by these companies, enabling Hollywood to produce 600 films per year. H
Palo Alto, California
Palo Alto is a charter city located in the northwest corner of Santa Clara County, United States, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Palo Alto means tall stick in Spanish; the city was established by Leland Stanford Sr. when he founded Stanford University, following the death of his son, Leland Stanford Jr. Palo Alto includes portions of Stanford University and shares its borders with East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Portola Valley, Menlo Park; as of the 2010 census, the city's total resident population is 64,403. Palo Alto is one of the five most expensive cities in the United States to live in and its residents are among the highest educated in the country. Palo Alto is headquarters to a number of high-technology companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Space Systems/Loral, VMware, Ford Research and Innovation Center, PARC, IDEO, Palantir Technologies and Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center. Palo Alto has served as an incubator and as headquarters to several other prominent high-technology companies such as Apple, Facebook, Intuit and PayPal.
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Ohlone lived on the San Francisco peninsula. The area of modern Palo Alto was first recorded by the 1769 party of Gaspar de Portolà, a 63-man, 200-horse expedition from San Diego to Monterey; the group overshot Monterey in the fog and when they reached modern-day Pacifica, ascended Sweeney Ridge and saw the San Francisco Bay. Portolà descended from Sweeney Ridge southeast down San Andreas Creek to Laguna Creek and the Filoli estate, thence to the San Francisquito Creek watershed camping from November 6–11, 1769 by a tall redwood to be known as El Palo Alto. Thinking the bay was too wide to cross, the group retraced their journey to Monterey, never became aware of the Golden Gate entrance to the Bay. In 1777, Father Junipero Serra established the Mission Santa Clara de Asis, whose northern boundary was San Francisquito Creek and whose lands included modern Palo Alto; the area was under the control of the viceroy of Mexico and under the control of Spain. On November 29, 1777, Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe was established by order of the viceroy despite the displeasure of the local mission.
The Mexican War of Independence ending in 1821 led to Mexico becoming an independent country, though San Jose did not recognize rule by the new Mexico until May 10, 1825. Mexico proceeded to grant much of the mission land. During the Mexican–American War, the United States seized Alta California in 1846. Mexican citizens in the area could choose to become United States citizens, their land grants were to be recognized if they chose to do so; the land grant, Rancho Rinconada del Arroyo de San Francisquito, of about 2,230-acre on the lower reaches of San Francisquito Creek was given to Maria Antonia Mesa in 1841. She and her husband Rafael Soto had settled in 1835 near present day Newell and Middlefield roads and sold supplies. In 1839, their daughter María Luisa Soto married John Coppinger, to be, in 1841, the grantee of Rancho Cañada de Raymundo. Upon Coppinger's death in 1847, Maria inherited it and married a visiting boat captain, John Greer. Greer owned a home on the site, now Town & Country Village on Embarcadero and El Camino Real.
Greer Avenue and Court are named for him. To the south of the Sotos, the brothers Secundino and Teodoro Robles in 1849 bought Rancho Rincon de San Francisquito from José Peña, the 1841 grantee; the grant covered the area south of Rancho Rinconada del Arroyo de San Francisquito to more or less present day Mountain View. The grant was bounded on the south by Mariano Castro's Rancho Pastoria de las Borregas grant across San Antonio Road; this became the Robles Rancho, which constitutes about 80% of Palo Alto and Stanford University today. In 1863, it was whittled down in the courts to 6,981 acres. Stories say the grand hacienda was built on the former meager adobe of José Peña near Ferne off San Antonio Road, midway between Middlefield and Alma Street, their hacienda hosted fiestas and bull fights. It was ruined in the 1906 earthquake and its lumber was used to build a large barn nearby, said to have lingered until the early 1950s. On April 10, 1853, 250 acres, comprising the present day Barron Park, Matadero Creek and Stanford Business Park, was sold for $2,000 to Elisha Oscar Crosby, who called his new property Mayfield Farm.
The name of Mayfield was attached to the community that started nearby. On September 23, 1856, the Crosby land was transferred to Sarah Wallis to satisfy a debt he owed her. In 1880, Secundino Robles, father to twenty-nine children, still lived just south of Palo Alto, near the location of the present-day San Antonio Shopping Center in Mountain View. Many of the Spanish names in the Palo Alto area represent the local heritage, descriptive terms and former residents. Pena Court, Miranda Avenue, Foothill Expwy, was the married name of Juana Briones and the name occurs in Courts and Avenues and other street names in Palo Alto and Mountain View in the quadrant where she owned vast areas between Stanford University, Grant Road in Mountain View and west of El Camino Real. Yerba Buena was to her credit. Rinconada wa
Ben Hecht was an American screenwriter, producer, playwright and novelist. A journalist in his youth, he went on to write 35 books and some of the most entertaining screenplays and plays in America, he received screen credits, alone or in collaboration, for the stories or screenplays of some seventy films. At the age of 16, Hecht ran away to Chicago, where, in his own words, he "haunted streets, police stations, theater stages, saloons, madhouses, murders, banquet halls, bookshops". In the 1910s and early 1920s, Hecht became a noted journalist, foreign correspondent, literary figure. In the 1920s, his co-authored, reporter-themed play, The Front Page, became; the Dictionary of Literary Biography - American Screenwriters calls him "one of the most successful screenwriters in the history of motion pictures". Hecht received the first Academy Award for Best Story for Underworld. Many of the screenplays he worked on are now considered classics, he provided story ideas for such films as Stagecoach. Film historian Richard Corliss called him "the Hollywood screenwriter", someone who "personified Hollywood itself".
In 1940, he wrote and directed Angels Over Broadway, nominated for Best Screenplay. In total, six of his movie screenplays were nominated with two winning, he became an active Zionist shortly before the Holocaust began in Germany, wrote articles and plays about the plight of European Jews, such as We Will Never Die in 1943 and A Flag is Born in 1946. Of his seventy to ninety screenplays, he wrote many anonymously to avoid the British boycott of his work in the late 1940s and early 1950s; the boycott was a response to Hecht's active support of paramilitary action against British forces in Palestine and sabotaging British property there, during which time a supply ship to Palestine was named the S. S. Ben Hecht. According to his autobiography, he never spent more than eight weeks on a script. In 1983, 19 years after his death, Ben Hecht was posthumously inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. Hecht was born in the son of Belarusian Jewish immigrants, his father, Joseph Hecht, worked in the garment industry.
His father, mother Sarah Swernofsky Hecht, had immigrated to New York from Minsk, Belarus. The Hechts married in 1892; the family moved to Racine, where Ben attended high school. When Hecht was in his early teens, he would spend the summers with an uncle in Chicago. On the road much of the time, his father did not have much effect on Hecht's childhood, his mother was busy managing a store in downtown Racine. Film author Scott Siegal wrote, "He was considered a child prodigy at age ten on his way to a career as a concert violinist, but two years was performing as a circus acrobat."After graduating from Racine High School in 1910, Hecht moved to Chicago, running away to live there permanently. He lived with relatives, started a career in journalism, he found work as a reporter, first for the Chicago Journal, with the Chicago Daily News. He was an excellent reporter. After World War I, Hecht was sent to cover Berlin for the Daily News. There he wrote Erik Dorn, it was a sensational debut for Hecht as a serious writer.
The 1969 movie, Gaily, directed by Norman Jewison and starring Beau Bridges as "Ben Harvey", was based on Hecht's life during his early years working as a reporter in Chicago. The film was nominated for three Oscars; the story was taken from a portion of A Child of the Century. From 1918 to 1919, Hecht served as war correspondent in Berlin for the Chicago Daily News. According to Barbara and Scott Siegel, "Besides being a war reporter, he was noted for being a tough crime reporter while becoming known in Chicago literary circles."In 1921, Hecht inaugurated a Daily News column called, One Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago. While it lasted, the column was enormously influential, his editor, Henry Justin Smith said it represented a new concept in journalism: the idea that just under the edge of the news as understood, the news flatly unimaginatively told, lay life. He was going to be its interpreter, his was to be the lens throwing city life into new colors, his the microscope revealing its contortions in life and death.
While at the Chicago Daily News, Hecht famously broke the 1921 "Ragged Stranger Murder Case" story, about the murder of Carl Wanderer's wife, which led to the trial and execution of war hero Carl Wanderer. In Chicago, he met and befriended Maxwell Bodenheim, an American poet and novelist known as the King of Greenwich Village Bohemians, with whom he became a lifelong friend. After concluding One Thousand and One Afternoons, Hecht went on to produce novels, plays and memoirs, but none of these eclipsed his early success in finding the stuff of literature in city life. Recalling that period, Hecht wrote, "I haunted streets, police stations, theater stages, saloons, madhouses, murders, banquet halls, bookshops. I ran everywhere in the city like a fly buzzing in the works of a clock, tasted more than any fit belly could hold, learned not to sleep, buried myself in a tick-tock of whirling hours that still echo in me." Besides working as reporter in Chicago, "he contributed to literary magazines including the Little Review.