Charles MacArthur

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



The son of a Baptist minister, MacArthur is best known for his plays 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 briefly dated 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. They were preceded in death by their 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".

Film portrayal

MacArthur was portrayed by the actor Matthew Broderick in the 1994 film Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle.[1]

Selected works


  • The Front Page (1928), with Ben Hecht, made into the 1931, 1945, and 1974 motion pictures of the same name, the 1940 film His Girl Friday, and the 1988 movie Switching Channels

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