Charles MacArthur

Charles Gordon MacArthur (November 5, 1895 – April 21, 1956) was an American playwright, screenwriter and 1935 winner of the Academy Award for Best Story.

Charles MacArthur
Charles Gordon MacArthur

(1895-11-05)November 5, 1895
DiedApril 21, 1956(1956-04-21) (aged 60)
OccupationScreenwriter, playwright
(m. 1928)
Children2, including James MacArthur
RelativesJohn D. MacArthur (brother)
J. Roderick MacArthur (nephew)

Life and careerEdit

MacArthur was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the sixth of seven children of stern evangelist William Telfer MacArthur and Georgiana Welsted MacArthur.[1] He early developed a passion for reading. Declining to follow his father into ministry, he moved to the Midwest and soon became a successful reporter in Chicago, working for the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Daily News. MacArthur joined the United States Army for World War I, and served in France as a private assigned to Battery F, 149th Field Artillery, a unit of the 42nd Division.[2] He recounted his wartime experience in 1919's A Bug's-Eye View of the War.[3] After the war, he wrote several short stories, two of which, "Hang It All" (1921) and "Rope" (1923), were published in H. L. Mencken's The Smart Set magazine.[1] Eventually he settled in New York City, where he turned to playwriting.

MacArthur is best known for his plays in collaboration with Ben Hecht, Ladies and Gentlemen (filmed as Perfect Strangers), Twentieth Century and the frequently filmed The Front Page, which was based in part on MacArthur's experiences at the City News Bureau of Chicago. MacArthur also co-wrote, with Edward Sheldon, the play Lulu Belle, which was staged in 1926 by David Belasco.

MacArthur was friends with members of the Algonquin Round Table. He shared an apartment with Robert Benchley and had an affair with Dorothy Parker.

His second marriage was to the stage and screen actress Helen Hayes, from 1928 until his death. They lived in Nyack, New York. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Mary, who died of polio in 1949 at the age of 19. The shock of her death hastened MacArthur's own, according to those who knew him.

Their adopted son, James MacArthur, was also an actor, best known for playing Danny Williams on the American television series Hawaii Five-O.

His brother, John D. MacArthur, was an insurance-company owner and executive, and founded the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the benefactor of the MacArthur Fellowships.

Awards and nominationsEdit

Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Story - The Scoundrel (shared with Ben Hecht) (1936)

In 1983, MacArthur was posthumously inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.[4]

Film portrayalEdit

MacArthur was portrayed by Matthew Broderick in the 1994 film Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle.[5]

Selected worksEdit




  1. ^ a b "A Salute to Charles Gordon MacArthur". James Macarthur Official Website. 2004.
  2. ^ "Reporter Writes View of the War". The Fourth Estate. New York, NY. December 20, 1919. p. 25.
  3. ^ MacArthur, Charles G. (1919). A Bug's-Eye View of the War. New York, NY: 149th Field Artillery Regiment. p. title.
  4. ^ "Theater Hall of Fame Gets 10 New Members". The New York Times. May 10, 1983.
  5. ^ "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994) - IMDb" – via

External linksEdit