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Albert Hackett

Albert Hackett

This son of stage actress Frances Hackett and brother of silent screen actor Raymond Hackett attended the Professional Children's School in his native NYC and began in show business as a child actor playing a little girl in "Lottie, the Poor Saleslady" (1906). He toured in vaudeville and in such productions as "Peter Pan," and as late as 1941 was still occasionally acting on stage. From age 12 he also acted in motion pictures, beginning with the now-lost "Poor Jimmy" (1912), and including such classics as "Anne of Green Gables" (1919), directed by William Desmond Taylor. But while his brother's acting career was in full swing during the 20s, Hackett's began to sputter, and by 1930 he had made his final film, "Whoopee!" (the Eddie Cantor vehicle in which Hackett had also co-starred on Broadway).Although he more or less gave up on a performing career, Hackett turned to screenwriting with his spouse Goodrich (whom he married in 1931). With "Penthouse" (1933), their initial screenwriting collaboration, they demonstrated an ability to mix comedy and melodrama. Although under contract with MGM, Hackett and Goodrich were not elevated to the top of the writers' list, but, instead were assigned what were considered lesser pictures. One such film was "The Thin Man," which paired William Powell and Myrna Loy as sophisticated sleuths Nick and Nora Charles in a mix of screwball comedy and murder. Although MGM did not expect much from the effort, "The Thin Man" was a hit with audiences and brought the duo their first Academy Award nomination. Now firmly on the "A" list, they went on to pick up a second Oscar nod for the squel "After the Thin Man" (1936). Able to tap into the human spirit as well as the American consciousness, Hackett and Goodrich adapted the Eugene O'Neill play "Ah, Wilderness!" for the screen in 1935, but perhaps their most lasting achievement is "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946), directed by Frank Capra. Centering on the premise of what the world would be like if one had not lived, "It's a Wonderful Wonderful Life" began as a cult favorite but has blossomed into not just a cult favorite and a holiday perennial Hackett and Goodrich adapted to the MGM big-budget musical cycle of the 40s and 50s, writing the Fred Astaire-Judy Garland classic "Easter Parade" (1948) and earned Oscar nominations for the satirical "Father of the Bride" (1950) and the musical "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (1954).With the demise of the studio system in the 50s, Hackett and Goodrich returned to the theater after being selected to adapt "The Diary of Anne Frank" for the Broadway stage. Their literate and moving version was awarded both a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award as Best Play. When it came time to bring the material to the big screen, it seemed only natural that the married couple should pen the screenplay. In 1962, Goodrich and Hackett adapted Peter Shaffer's play "Five Finger Exercise" for the screen with lackluster results, and soon permanently retired. Frances Goodrich died in 1984 and Hackett remarried. He succumbed to pneumonia in 1995.