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Charles MacArthur Biography

(1895–1956), Lulu Belle, The Front Page, Twentieth Century, Jumbo, Ladies and Gentlemen, Swan Song

American dramatist, born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. MacArthur worked for the Hearst newspapers as a journalist in Chicago in the 1920s. He made his name in the theatre with a play about a black prostitute, Lulu Belle (1926), written in collaboration with his uncle, the playwright Edward Sheldon. MacArthur is best known for his association with Ben Hecht with whom he collaborated on The Front Page (1928), an acerbic comedy about the world of newsmen, and Twentieth Century (1932), in which the machinations of a failing Hollywood producer are laid bare. His other collaborations with Hecht were for the musical Jumbo (1935), the play Ladies and Gentlemen (1939), written as a vehicle for MacArthur's wife, the actress Helen Hayes, and Swan Song (1946). His solo play Johnny on a Spot (1942) was an unsuccessful political satire. Like Hecht, he was also a successful screenwriter.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Earl Lovelace Biography to Madmen and Specialists