Ben Hecht: Journalist/Author

At 16 years old, Ben Hecht left the University of Wisconsin for Chicago with fifty dollars in his pocket. By a twist of fate, the young Hecht was introduced to the publisher of the Chicago Daily Journal who hired the teenager within hours of meeting him. While Hecht spent the first year sneaking into homes of crime victims and capturing photographs of their injuries of grief to appear in the next day’s paper, he proved himself to be an asset to the paper and he was brought on as a full-time reporter at seventeen.

After World War I, Hecht was sent to Berlin to serve as a foriegn correspondent for the Chicago Daily News. He reported on the movement and aftermath of the war, which inspired his first novel, Erik Dorn. Upon his return to the States in 1919, he was back on the streets covering crime and immersing himself in the literary scene.

In 1921, Hecht pioneered the column A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago where he chronicled his experiences wandering the city and palling around with normal people. Hecht’s A Thousand and One Afternoons column painted Chicago in a new, different light and was like a breath of fresh air to readers  of bustling city life in the early 1900s. 

That same year, Hecht and Charles MacArthur, his collaborator and friend, famously broke “The Case of the Ragged Stranger.” Their investigative work led to the trial and execution of Carl Wanderer, a war hero who shot himself and killed his pregnant wife in a staged robbery-gone-wrong. 

By the time he was 30, he was exhausted with the journalism scene. In 1924, Hecht left Chicago for New York City to live with his wife-to-be Rose Caylor. In New York he wrote the play The Front Page (1928) with Charles MacArthur, forever influencing the public’s perception of newspaper men. It was there in New York City where he received a life changing telegram from his friend Herman Mankiewicz offering him a job in California writing for Paramount Pictures. 



Novels, Short Stories, Essays, and poetry 

1921Erik Dorn 

1922Fantazius Mallare, A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago, Gargoyles

1923The Florentine Dagger

1924The Kingdom of Evil: A Continuation of the Journal of Fantazius Mallare, Humpty Dumpty,  

1926Count Bruga, Broken Necks

1928The Front Page

1931A Jew in Love, A Champion From Far Away

1937To Quito and Back

1939A Book of Miracles

19411001 Afternoons in New York

1943Miracle in the Rain

1944A Guide for the Bedevilled, I Hate Actors!

1945The Collected Stories of Ben Hecht

1947The Cat that Jumped Out of the Story

1954A Child of the Century 

1957– Charlie: The Improbable Life and Times of Charles MacArthur

1959The Sensualists, Treasury of Ben Hecht Collected Stories and Other Writings 


1963Gaily, Gaily 

1964Letters from Bohemia 

1974My Story: Marilyn Monroe (ghostwriter)