- Gender: Male
- Birthday: 1906-12-31
- Day of Death: 1976-03-05 ( 70 years old )
- Place of Birth: New York City, New York, USA
- Also Known As:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Charles Lederer (December 31, 1906 – March 5, 1976) was an American screenwriter and film director. He was born into a prominent theatrical family in New York, and after his parents divorced, was raised in California by his aunt, Marion Davies, mistress to newspaper publisher William Randolf Hearst. A child prodigy, he entered college at age 13, but dropped out after a few years to work as a journalist with Hearst’s newspapers.
Lederer is recognized for his comic and acerbic adaptations and collaborative screenplays of the 1940s and early 1950s. His screenplays frequently delved into the corrosive influences of wealth and power. His comedy writing was considered among the best of the period, and he, along with writer friends Ben Hecht and Herman Mankiewicz, became major contributors to the film genre known as “screwball comedy”.
Among his notable screenplays which he wrote or co-wrote, were The Front Page (1931), the critically acclaimed His Girl Friday (1940), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), Ocean’s 11 (1960), and Mutiny on the Bounty (1962).
With Ben Hecht, he co-wrote the original Kiss of Death which was to feature the actor Richard Widmark’s chilling debut as the psychopathic killer with a giggle. In addition, he wrote and directed the 1959 film Never Steal Anything Small, an adaptation of a play by Maxwell Anderson and Rouben Mamoulian, starring James Cagney. The Spirit of St. Louis was Lederer’s last significant film work. The films that followed that were primarily vehicles for established stars.
In 1954, he won three Tony Awards for the Broadway Musical Kismet, as Best Producer (Musical), as Best Author (Musical) with Luther Davis, and as co-author of the book which, with several collaborators, contributed to the Best Musical win.