CHARLIE by Ben Hecht


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An overflow of memories and love for Charles MacArthur, the years and experiences they shared and the feeling for a friend's hidden hell makes this a sensitive, emotional recording of a life in which intangibles are more important than tangibles. Hecht pictures MacArthur as one who was preoccupied with death, who kept wounds (from childhood and adult years) out of sight, whose ribaldry and carnival spirit grew from a reputation into a legend and whose defiance -- of the world, conventions and rules -- was reflected in his independence. His stories of Charlie in his childhood (in Nyack, N.Y.), in the wars, in Chicago as a newspaperman of the '20's, in New York City among the specialized literary names of the day, in his first marriage and then in the many years of his long love for Helen Hayes -- have the warmth and understanding of a companion who worked and played -- and suffered -- with a guy whose larkish and darkest moments were part of common experiences. His pranks and his unpublicized gentlenesses, his moving picture drudgery and his playwriting, the many levels and many worlds in which he had many friends, and the later years of failing health that was ignored -- fill in the portrait of a man whose charm marked a heyday of personality. Names and sentiment, fun and crackup, an individual adventure -- this is lingering farewell.

Pub Date: June 12th, 1957
Publisher: Harper