Charles MacArthur

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Charles MacArthur
Born Charles Gordon MacArthur
(1895-11-05)November 5, 1895
Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died April 21, 1956(1956-04-21) (aged 60)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Screenwriter, playwright
Spouse(s) Helen Hayes
(m. 1928; his death 1956)
Children 2, including James MacArthur
Relatives John D. MacArthur (brother)
J. Roderick MacArthur (nephew)
Awards Best Story
1935 The Scoundrel

Charles Gordon MacArthur (November 5, 1895 – April 21, 1956) was an American playwright and screenwriter.


Charles MacArthur was the second youngest of seven children born to 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, a play called Lulu Belle, which was successfully 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 unexpectedly 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 "genius awards".

Awards and nominations

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 portrayal

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

Selected works




  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. ^ Internet Movie Database entry for Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle

External links

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