Charles Brackett was an attorney, critic, novelist, writer, and producer with more than 40 film credits. His collaboration with screenwriter-director Billy Wilder resulted in such memorable films as Ninotchka (1939), A Foreign Affair (1948), and they received best screenplay Oscars for The Lost Weekend (1945) and Sunset Boulevard (1950). Brackett’s collaboration with Richard Breen and Walter Reisch led to a third Academy Award, for Titanic (1953). He also produced The King and I (1956), which won five Oscars.
Eulogized in The New York Times as “one of Hollywood’s elder statesmen and most successful figures,” Brackett served as Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president from 1949 to 1955, was a Screen Producers’ Guild executive board member, and a Motion Picture Relief Fund board member. In 1957 he received an honorary Academy Award for outstanding service to AMPAS; Brackett and Wilder were given the WGA Laurel Award that same year. In addition, the WGA honored Brackett with the Edmund H. North Award in 1967.
He was born in Saratoga Springs, New York, on November 26, 1892, earned a law degree from Harvard Law School, practiced law for six years, and wrote five novels: The Counsel of the Ungodly, Weekend, The Last Infirmity, American Colony, and Entirely Surrounded. Brackett was also a drama critic for The New Yorker and a regular contributor for the Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, and Vanity Fair. During World War I, he enlisted in the American Expeditionary Force, became vice-consul at St. Nazaire, France, was commissioned as a second lieutenant, and earned a medal of honor from the French army for his services. He died in Bel Air on March 9, 1969.