Norman Lloyd is an American actor and director with a career in entertainment spanning over nine decades. He has worked in every major facet of the industry including theatre, radio and film, with a career that started in 1923 and his last film to date Trainwreck in 2015. In the 1930s, he apprenticed with Eva Le Gallienne's Civic Repertory Theatre and worked with such influential groups as the Federal Theatre Project's Living Newspaper unit, the Mercury Theatre and the Group Theatre. Lloyd's long professional association with Alfred Hitchcock began with his performance portraying a Nazi agent in the 1942 film Saboteur, he appeared in Spellbound, went on to produce Hitchcock's long-running anthology television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Lloyd produced episodic television throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s; as an actor, he has appeared in over 60 films and television shows, with his roles including Bodalink in Limelight, Mr. Nolan in Dead Poets Society and Mr. Letterblair in The Age of Innocence.
In the 1980s, Lloyd gained a new generation of fans for playing Dr. Daniel Auschlander, one of the starring roles on the medical drama St. Elsewhere. Norman Lloyd was born Norman Perlmutter on November 8, 1914, in New Jersey, his family lived in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Max Perlmutter, was an accountant who became a salesman and proprietor of a furniture store, his mother, Sadie Horowitz Perlmutter, was a housewife. She had a good voice and a lifelong interest in the theatre, she took her young son to singing and dancing lessons, he had two younger sisters and Janice. Lloyd became a child performer, appearing at vaudeville benefits and women's clubs, was a professional by the age of nine. Lloyd graduated from high school when he was 15 and began studies at New York University, but left at the end of his sophomore year. "All around me I could see the way. "I just wasn't going to stay in college, paying tuition to get a degree to be a lawyer, when I could see lawyers that had become taxi drivers."
Lloyd's father died in 1945, at age 55, "broken by the world that he was living in."In 1932, at age 17, Lloyd auditioned and became the youngest of the apprentices under the direction of May Sarton at Eva Le Gallienne's Civic Repertory Theatre in New York City. He joined Sarton's Apprentice Theatre in New Hampshire, continuing his studies with her and her associate, Eleanor Flexner; the group rehearsed a total of ten modern European plays and performed at The New School for Social Research and in Boston. Members of the Harvard Dramatic Club saw Lloyd on stage and offered him the lead in a play directed by Joseph Losey, he rejoined Sarton's group. When Sarton was forced to give up her company, Losey suggested that Lloyd audition for a production of André Obey's Noah, it was Lloyd's first Broadway show. Through Losey, Lloyd became involved in the social theatre of the 1930s, beginning with an acting collective called The Theatre of Action; the group was preparing a production of Michael Blankfort's The Crime, directed by Elia Kazan.
One of the company members was actress Peggy Craven. Losey brought Lloyd into the Federal Theatre Project — which Lloyd called "one of the great theaters of all time"— and its Living Newspapers, which dramatized contemporary events, they prepared Ethiopia, about the Italian invasion, deemed too controversial and was terminated. The first completed presentation was Triple-A Plowed Under, followed by Injunction Granted and Power; when Orson Welles and John Houseman left the Federal Theatre Project to form their own independent repertory theatre company, the Mercury Theatre, Lloyd was invited to become a charter member. He played a memorable role in its first stage production, Welles's modern-dress adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy Julius Caesar — streamlined into an anti-fascist tour- de-force. In a scene that became the fulcrum of the show, Cinna the Poet dies at the hands not of a mob but of a secret police force. Lloyd called it "an extraordinary scene gripped the audience in a way that the show stopped for about three minutes.
The audience stopped it with applause. It showed the audience. During the December 25 performance of Caesar — when the sets and costumes for Shoemaker were ready but no previews had taken place — Welles asked the cast if they cared to present a surprise preview after the show, he invited the audience to stay and watch the set changes, the curtain rose at 1:15 a.m. Lloyd recalled it as "the wildest triumph imaginable; the show was a smash during its run — but never again did we have a performance like that one." Lloyd performed on the first of four releases in the Mercury Text Records series, phonographic recordings of Shakespeare plays adapted for educators by Welles and Roger Hill. The Merchant of Venice features Lloyd in the roles of Launcelot Gobbo. Released on Columbia Masterworks Records in 1939, the recording was reissued on CD in 1998. Lloyd played the role of Johnny Appleseed in Everywhere I Roam, a play by Arnold Sundgaard, developed by the Federal Theatre Project and staged on Broadway by Marc Connelly.
"It was a lovely experience, although the play failed," Lloyd recalled. "For me, it was
Rochester, New York
Rochester is a city on the southern shore of Lake Ontario in western New York. With a population of 208,046 residents, Rochester is the seat of Monroe County and the third most populous city in New York state, after New York City and Buffalo; the metropolitan area has a population of just over 1 million people. It is about 73 miles east of Buffalo and 87 miles west of Syracuse. Rochester was one of America's first boomtowns due to the fertile Genesee River Valley, which gave rise to numerous flour mills, as a manufacturing hub. Several of the region's universities have renowned research programs. Rochester is the site of many important innovations in consumer products; the Rochester area has been the birthplace to Kodak, Western Union, French's, Bausch & Lomb and Xerox, which conduct extensive research and manufacturing of industrial and consumer products. Until 2010, the Rochester metropolitan area was the second-largest regional economy in New York State, after the New York City metropolitan area.
Rochester's GMP has since ranked just below Buffalo, New York, while exceeding it in per-capita income. The 25th edition of the Places Rated Almanac rated Rochester as the "most livable city" in 2007, among 379 U. S. metropolitan areas. In 2010 Forbes rated Rochester as the third-best place to raise a family in the United States. In 2012 Kiplinger rated Rochester as the fifth-best city in the United States for families, citing low cost of living, top public schools, a low jobless rate. Rochester is a Global city with Sufficiency status; the Seneca tribe of Native Americans lived in and around Rochester until they lost their claim to most of this land in the Treaty of Big Tree in 1797. Settlement before the Seneca tribe is unknown. Development of Rochester followed the American Revolution, forced cession of their territory by the Iroquois after the defeat of Great Britain. Allied with the British, four major Iroquois tribes were forced out of New York; as a reward for their loyalty to the British Crown, they were given a large land grant on the Grand River in Canada.
Rochester was founded shortly after the American Revolution by a wave of English-Puritan descended immigrants from New England who were looking for new agricultural land. They would be the dominant cultural group in Rochester for over a century. On November 8, 1803, Col. Nathaniel Rochester, Maj. Charles Carroll, Col. William Fitzhugh, Jr. all of Hagerstown, purchased a 100-acre tract from the state in Western New York along the Genesee River. They chose the site because its three cataracts on the Genesee offered great potential for water power. Beginning in 1811, with a population of 15, the three founders surveyed the land and laid out streets and tracts. In 1817, the Brown brothers and other landowners joined their lands with the Hundred Acre Tract to form the village of Rochesterville. By 1821, Rochesterville was the seat of Monroe County. In 1823, Rochesterville consisted of 1,012 acres and 2,500 residents, the Village of Rochesterville became known as Rochester. In 1823, the Erie Canal aqueduct over the Genesee River was completed, the Erie Canal east to the Hudson River was opened.
In the early 20th century, after the advent of railroads, the presence of the canal in the center city was an obstacle. By 1830, Rochester's population was 9,200 and in 1834, it was re-chartered as a city. Rochester was first known as "the Young Lion of the West", as the "Flour City". By 1838, Rochester was the largest flour-producing city in the United States. Having doubled its population in only 10 years, Rochester became America's first "boomtown". In 1830-31, Rochester experienced one of the nation's biggest Protestant revivalist movements, led by Charles Finney; the revival has been noted as inspiring other revivals of the Second Great Awakening. A leading pastor in New York, converted in the Rochester meetings gave the following account of the effects of Finney's meetings in that city: "The whole community was stirred. Religion was the topic of conversation in the house, in the office and on the street; the only theater in the city was converted into a livery stable. Grog shops were closed.
Nurseries ringed the city, the most famous of, started in 1840 by immigrants Georg Ellwanger from Germany and Patrick Barry from Ireland. In 1847, Frederick Douglass founded the abolitionist newspaper The North Star in Rochester. Douglass, a former slave and an antislavery speaker and writer, gained a circulation of over 4,000 readers in the United States and the Caribbean; the North Star served as a forum for abolitionist views. The Douglass home burnt down in 1872, but a marker for it is found in Highland Park off South Avenue. Susan B. Anthony, a national leader of the women's suffrage movement, was from Rochester; the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guaranteed the right of women to vote in 1920, was known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment because of her work toward its passage, which she did not live to see. Anthony's home is a National Historic Landmark known as the National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House. At the end of the 19th century, anarchi
The rise of the lunatic asylum and its gradual transformation into, eventual replacement by, the modern psychiatric hospital, explains the rise of organised, institutional psychiatry. While there were earlier institutions that housed the "insane", the conclusion that institutionalisation was the correct solution to treating people considered to be "mad" was part of a social process in the 19th century that began to seek solutions for outside families and local communities. In Britain at the beginning of the 19th century, there were a few thousand "lunatics" housed in a variety of disparate institutions; this growth coincided with the development of alienism, now known as psychiatry, as a medical specialty. In the Islamic world, the Bimaristans were described by European travellers, who wrote about their wonder at the care and kindness shown to lunatics. In 872, Ahmad ibn Tulun built a hospital in Cairo that provided care to the insane, which included music therapy. Nonetheless, medical historian Roy Porter cautions against idealising the role of hospitals in medieval Islam, stating that "They were a drop in the ocean for the vast population that they had to serve, their true function lay in highlighting ideals of compassion and bringing together the activities of the medical profession."In Europe during the medieval era, the small subsection of the population of those considered mad were housed in institutional settings were held in a variety of settings.
Porter gives examples of such locales where some of the insane were cared for, such as in monasteries. A few towns had towers; the ancient Parisian hospital Hôtel-Dieu had a small number of cells set aside for lunatics, whilst the town of Elbing boasted a madhouse, the Tollhaus, attached to the Teutonic Knights' hospital. Dave Sheppard's Development of Mental Health Law and Practice begins in 1285 with a case that linked "the instigation of the devil" with being "frantic and mad". In Spain, other such institutions for the insane were established after the Christian Reconquista. In London, the Priory of Saint Mary of Bethlehem, which became known more notoriously as Bedlam, was founded in 1247. At the start of the 15th century, it housed six insane men; the former lunatic asylum, Het Dolhuys, established in the 16th century in Haarlem, the Netherlands, has been adapted as a museum of psychiatry, with an overview of treatments from the origins of the building up to the 1990s. The level of specialist institutional provision for the care and control of the insane remained limited at the turn of the 18th century.
Madness was seen principally as a domestic problem, with families and parish authorities in Europe and England central to regimens of care. Various forms of outdoor relief were extended by the parish authorities to families in these circumstances, including financial support, the provision of parish nurses and, where family care was not possible, lunatics might be'boarded out' to other members of the local community or committed to private madhouses. Exceptionally, if those deemed mad were judged to be disturbing or violent, parish authorities might meet the not inconsiderable costs of their confinement in charitable asylums such as Bethlem, in Houses of Correction or in workhouses. In the late 17th century, this model began to change, run asylums for the insane began to proliferate and expand in size. In 1632 it was recorded that Bethlem Royal Hospital, London had "below stairs a parlor, a kitchen, two larders, a long entry throughout the house, 21 rooms wherein the poor distracted people lie, above the stairs eight rooms more for servants and the poor to lie in".
Inmates who were deemed dangerous or disturbing were chained, but Bethlem was an otherwise open building. Its inhabitants could roam around its confines and throughout the general neighborhood in which the hospital was situated. In 1676, Bethlem expanded into newly built premises at Moorfields with a capacity for 100 inmates, A second public charitable institution was opened in 1713, the Bethel in Norwich, it was a small facility which housed between twenty and thirty inmates. In 1728 at Guy's Hospital, wards were established for chronic lunatics. From the mid-eighteenth century the number of public charitably funded asylums expanded moderately with the opening of St Luke's Hospital in 1751 in Upper Moorfields, London. A similar expansion took place in the British American colonies; the Pennsylvania Hospital was founded in Philadelphia in 1751 as a result of work begun in 1709 by the Religious Society of Friends. A portion of this hospital was set apart for the mentally ill, the first patients were admitted in 1752.
Virginia is recognized as the first state to establish an institution for the mentally ill. Eastern State Hospital, located in Williamsburg, was incorporated in 1768 under the name of the “Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds” and its first patients were admitted in 1773. Due to the absence of a centralised state response to the social problem of madness until the 19th century, private madhouses proliferated in 18th century Britain on a scale unseen elsewhere. References to such institutions are limited for the 17th century but
Psychiatric hospitals known as mental hospitals, mental health units, mental asylums or asylums, are hospitals or wards specializing in the treatment of serious mental disorders, such as major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. Psychiatric hospitals vary in their size and grading; some hospitals may specialize only in short outpatient therapy for low-risk patients. Others may specialize in the temporary or permanent care of residents who, as a result of a psychological disorder, require routine assistance, treatment, or a specialized and controlled environment. Patients are admitted on a voluntary basis, but people whom psychiatrists believe may pose a significant danger to themselves or others may be subject to involuntary commitment. Psychiatric hospitals may be referred to as psychiatric wards or units when they are a subunit of a regular hospital. Modern psychiatric hospitals evolved from, replaced the older lunatic asylums; the treatment of inmates in early lunatic asylums was sometimes brutal and focused on containment and restraint.
With successive waves of reform, the introduction of effective evidence-based treatments, most modern psychiatric hospitals provide a primary emphasis on treatment, attempt where possible to help patients control their own lives in the outside world, with the use of a combination of psychiatric drugs and psychotherapy. An exception is in Japan, where many psychiatric hospitals still use physical restraints on patients, tying them to their beds for days or months at a time. A crisis stabilization unit is in effect an emergency department for psychiatry dealing with suicidal, violent, or otherwise critical individuals. Open units are psychiatric units. Another type of psychiatric hospital is medium term. In the United Kingdom, both crisis admissions and medium term care are provided on acute admissions wards. Juvenile or adolescent wards are sections of psychiatric hospitals or psychiatric wards set aside for children or adolescents with mental illness. Long-term care facilities have the goal of treatment and rehabilitation back into society within a short time-frame.
Another institution for the mentally ill is a community-based halfway house. Modern psychiatric hospitals evolved from, replaced the older lunatic asylums; the development of the modern psychiatric hospital is the story of the rise of organized, institutional psychiatry. Hospitals known as bimaristans were built in Persia beginning around the early 9th century, with the first in Baghdad under the leadership of the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid. While not devoted to patients with psychiatric disorders, they contained wards for patients exhibiting mania or other psychological distress; because of cultural taboos against refusing to care for one's family members, mentally ill patients would be surrendered to a bimaristan only if the patient demonstrated violence, incurable chronic illness, or some other debilitating ailment. Psychological wards were enclosed by iron bars owing to the aggression of some of the patients. Western Europe would adopt these views on with the advances of physicians like Philippe Pinel at the Bicêtre Hospital in France and William Tuke at the York Retreat in England.
They advocated the viewing of mental illness as a disorder that required compassionate treatment that would aid in the rehabilitation of the victim. The arrival in the Western world of institutionalisation as a solution to the problem of madness was much an advent of the nineteenth century; the first public mental asylums were established in Britain. Nine counties first applied. In 1828, the newly appointed Commissioners in Lunacy were empowered to license and supervise private asylums; the Lunacy Act 1845 made the construction of asylums in every country compulsory with regular inspections on behalf of the Home Secretary. The Act required asylums to have a resident physician. At the beginning of the nineteenth century there were a few thousand "sick people" housed in a variety of disparate institutions throughout England, but by 1900 that figure had grown to about 100,000; this growth coincided with the growth of alienism known as psychiatry, as a medical specialism. The treatment of inmates in early lunatic asylums was sometimes brutal and focused on containment and restraint.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, terms such as "madness," "lunacy" or "insanity"—all of which assumed a unitary psychosis—were split into numerous "mental diseases," of which catatonia and dementia praecox were the most common in psychiatric institutions. In 1961 sociologist Erving Goffman described a theory of the "total institution" and the process by which it takes efforts to maintain predictable and regular behavior on the part of both "guard" and "captor," suggesting that many of the features of such institutions serve the ritual function of ensuring that both classes of people know their function and social role, in other words of "institutionalizing" them. Asylums was a key text in the development of deinstitutionalization. With successive waves of reform and the introduction of effective evidence-based treatments, modern psychiatric hospitals provide a primary emphasis on treatment.
United Artists Corporation doing business as United Artists Digital Studios, is an American film and television entertainment studio. Founded in 1919 by D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, the studio was premised on allowing actors to control their own interests, rather than being dependent upon commercial studios. UA was bought and restructured over the ensuing century; the current United Artists company exists as a successor to the original. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired the studio in 1981 for a reported $350 million. On September 22, 2014, MGM acquired a controlling interest in Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's entertainment companies One Three Media and Lightworkers Media merged them to revive United Artists' TV production unit as United Artists Media Group. However, on December 14 of the following year, MGM wholly acquired UAMG and folded it into MGM Television. UA was revived yet again in 2018 as United Artists Digital Studios. Mirror, the joint distribution venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures was renamed as United Artists Releasing in early February 2019 just in time for UA's 100th anniversary.
Pickford, Chaplin and Griffith incorporated UA as a joint venture on February 5, 1919. Each held a 25 percent stake in the preferred shares and a 20 percent stake in the common shares of the joint venture, with the remaining 20 percent of common shares held by lawyer and advisor William Gibbs McAdoo; the idea for the venture originated with Fairbanks, Chaplin and cowboy star William S. Hart a year earlier. Hollywood veterans, the four stars talked of forming their own company to better control their own work, they were spurred on by established Hollywood producers and distributors who were tightening their control over actor salaries and creative decisions, a process that evolved into the studio system. With the addition of Griffith, planning began; when he heard about their scheme, Richard A. Rowland, head of Metro Pictures said, "The inmates are taking over the asylum." The four partners, with advice from McAdoo, formed their distribution company. Hiram Abrams was its first managing director, the company established its headquarters at 729 Seventh Avenue in New York City.
The original terms called for each star to produce five pictures a year. By the time the company was operational in 1921, feature films were becoming more expensive and polished, running times had settled at around ninety minutes; the original goal was thus abandoned. UA's first film, His Majesty, the American, written by and starring Fairbanks, was a success. Funding for movies was limited. Without selling stock to the public like other studios, all United had for finance was weekly prepayment installments from theater owners for upcoming movies; as a result, production was slow, the company distributed an average of only five films a year in its first five years. By 1924, Griffith had dropped out, the company was facing a crisis. Veteran producer Joseph Schenck was hired as president, he had produced pictures for a decade, brought commitments for films starring his wife, Norma Talmadge, his sister-in-law, Constance Talmadge, his brother-in-law, Buster Keaton. Contracts were signed with independent producers, including Samuel Goldwyn, Howard Hughes.
In 1933, Schenck organized a new company with Darryl F. Zanuck, called Twentieth Century Pictures, which soon provided four pictures a year, forming half of UA's schedule. Schenck formed a separate partnership with Pickford and Chaplin to buy and build theaters under the United Artists name, they began international operations, first in Canada, in Mexico. By the end of the 1930s, United Artists was represented in over 40 countries; when he was denied an ownership share in 1935, Schenck resigned. He set up 20th Century Pictures' merger with Fox Film Corporation to form 20th Century Fox. Al Lichtman succeeded Schenck as company president. Other independent producers distributed through United Artists in the 1930s including Walt Disney Productions, Alexander Korda, Hal Roach, David O. Selznick, Walter Wanger; as the years passed, the dynamics of the business changed, these "producing partners" drifted away. Samuel Goldwyn Productions and Disney went to Wanger to Universal Pictures. In the late 1930s, UA turned a profit.
Goldwyn was providing most of the output for distribution. He sued United several times for disputed compensation leading him to leave. MGM's 1939 hit Gone with the Wind was supposed to be a UA release except that Selznick wanted Clark Gable, under contract to MGM, to play Rhett Butler; that year, Fairbanks died. UA became embroiled in lawsuits with Selznick over his distribution of some films through RKO. Selznick considered UA's operation sloppy, left to start his own distribution arm. In the 1940s, United Artists was losing money because of poorly received pictures. Cinema attendance continued to decline; the company sold its Mexican releasing division to Crédito Cinematográfico Mexicano, a local company. In 1941, Chaplin, Orson Welles, Selznick, Alexander Korda, Wanger—many of whom were members of United Artists--formed the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers. Members included Hunt Stromberg, William Cagney, Sol L
Wallace Ford was an English-born naturalized American vaudevillian, stage and television actor. Playing wise-cracking characters, he combined a tough but friendly faced demeanor with a small but powerful stocky physique, he was born in Bolton, England, into a working class family of limited means. At the age of three he was placed by his uncle and aunt, in whose care he had been, into a Barnardo's orphanage home, since they were unable to maintain his upkeep along with their own several children; when he was seven, he and other children from similar backgrounds were shipped to Canada to be found new homes with farming foster families as a part of the British Empire's on-going programme to populate the territory. Samuel was adopted by a family in Manitoba, he was ill-treated, became a serial runaway, being resettled several times with different families by the Canadian authorities. According to his own account, at the age of 11, he ran away for the last time and joined a vaudeville traveling troupe touring Canada called the Winnipeg Kiddies, where he acquired his initial training as a performer.
In 1914, 16-year-old Samuel and another youth named Wallace Ford decided to head south to the United States to seek their fortune, riding a freight train illicitly. During the trip, Ford was killed beneath the wheels of a train. Samuel adopted as his stage name the name of his dead traveling companion. Following military service as a trooper at Fort Riley, with the United States Army Cavalry during World War I, he became a vaudeville stage actor in an American stock company. In 1919, he performed in an adaptation of Booth Tarkington's Seventeen, which played to full houses in Chicago for several months, before transferring to a successful run on Broadway in New York City. Ford became a successful Broadway performer through the Roaring Twenties, appearing in multiple productions, including the lead role in the Broadway smash hit Abie's Irish Rose. In motion pictures, he appeared with Clark Gable and Joan Crawford in Possessed in 1931, the next year he was given the lead in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Freaks.
Ford went on to have an extensive career over 30 years, appearing in more than 150 films, with lead roles in the 1930s and'40s in Hollywood B movies such as The Rogues' Tavern, Murder by Invitation, Roar of the Press, supporting roles in larger feature films such as The Lost Patrol, Shadow of a Doubt and Dead Reckoning. In 1937, he returned to the Broadway stage to play the role of George in the original production of Of Mice and Men. In 1945, Ford appeared in the film Blood on the Sun alongside Jimmy Cagney, whose physique and acting style resembled his own. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he transitioned into a character actor, appearing as a regular performer in the newly fashionable Western genre, in multiple John Ford productions as one of his preferred support players. In the latter stage of his career, during the 1950s and early 1960s, Ford performed on television, his final appearance on the "small screen" was on The Andy Griffith Show in 1964, playing "Roger Hanover", Aunt Bee's old flame.
The next year he appeared in his last film, A Patch of Blue, for which he received a Golden Laurel nomination. Ford's performance as "Ole Pa" in A Patch of Blue proved to be the final role of his extensive acting career. Ford met his future wife Martha Haworth in 1922 while they were performing together on Broadway in Abie's Irish Rose, she being a chorus girl at the time, they had a daughter named Patricia. After the death of his wife in February 1966, Ford moved into the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital at Woodland Hills and died in the hospital there of heart failure four months later, his body was buried in an unmarked grave at Culver City's Holy Cross Cemetery. Wallace Ford on IMDb Wallace Ford at the Internet Broadway Database Wallace Ford at Find a Grave Literature on Wallace Ford
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.