Charles Brackett

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Charles William Brackett
Charles Brackett.jpg
Brackett in 1942
Born(1892-11-26)November 26, 1892
DiedMarch 9, 1969(1969-03-09) (aged 76)
Alma materWilliams College
OccupationWriter, screenwriter
Years active1925–1962
Elizabeth Fletcher
(m. 1919; died 1948)

Lillian Fletcher
(m. 1953)
Children2 daughters
AwardsBest Original Screenplay
1950 Sunset Boulevard
1953 Titanic
Best Adapted Screenplay
1945 The Lost Weekend
Academy Honorary Award
1959 Lifetime Achievement WGA AwardBest Written Drama
1950 Sunset Boulevard

Charles William Brackett (November 26, 1892 – March 9, 1969) was an American novelist, screenwriter and film producer. He collaborated with Billy Wilder on sixteen films.

Life and career[edit]

Brackett was born in Saratoga Springs, New York, the son of Mary Emma Corliss and New York State Senator, lawyer, and banker Edgar Truman Brackett. The family's roots traced back to the arrival of Richard Brackett in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629, near present-day Springfield, Massachusetts. His mother's uncle, George Henry Corliss, built the Centennial Engine that powered the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. A 1915 graduate of Williams College, he earned his law degree from Harvard University. He joined the Allied Expeditionary Force during World War I. He was awarded the French Medal of Honor.[citation needed]

He was a frequent contributor to the Saturday Evening Post, Collier's, and Vanity Fair, and a drama critic for The New Yorker. He wrote five novels: The Counsel of the Ungodly (1920), Week-End (1925), That Last Infirmity (1926), American Colony (1929),[1] and Entirely Surrounded (1934).

Brackett was a president of the Screen Writers Guild (1938–1939) and for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1949–1955). He either wrote and/or produced over forty films, including To Each His Own, Ninotchka, The Major and the Minor, The Mating Season (1951), Niagara, The King and I, Ten North Frederick, The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker and Blue Denim.

Beginning in August 1936, Brackett worked with Billy Wilder, writing the film classics The Lost Weekend and Sunset Boulevard, both of which won Academy Awards for their respective screenplays. Brackett described their collaboration process as follows: "The thing to do was suggest an idea, have it torn apart and despised. In a few days it would be apt to turn up, slightly changed, as Wilder's idea. Once I got adjusted to that way of working, our lives were simpler."[2]

His partnership with Wilder ended in 1950 and Brackett went to work at 20th Century-Fox as a screenwriter and producer. His script for Titanic (1953) won him another Academy Award.

He received an Honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 1958.

Charles Brackett died on March 9, 1969.[3] His diaries covering his screenwriting and social life from 1932 to 1949 were edited by Anthony Slide into Slide's book It's the Pictures That Got Small: Charles Brackett on Billy Wilder and Hollywood's Golden Age.


Brackett married Elizabeth Barrows Fletcher, a descendant of Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower, on June 2, 1919. They had two daughters, Alexandra Corliss Brackett, Mrs. Larmore (1920–1965) and Elizabeth Fletcher Brackett (1922–1997). Elizabeth Fletcher Brackett the elder died on June 7, 1948. In 1953, Brackett married his former sister-in-law (Elizabeth's sister, Lillian Fletcher); that union was childless.[4]

Political views[edit]

Brackett was a Republican who voted for Alf Landon in 1936 and supported Barry Goldwater in the 1964 United States presidential election.[5]

Partial filmography[edit]

("*" indicates collaboration with Wilder)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Academy Awards[edit]

Year Category Film Result Shared with
1939 Best Adapted Screenplay Ninotchka Nominated Billy Wilder & Walter Reisch
1941 Best Adapted Screenplay Hold Back the Dawn Nominated Billy Wilder
1945 Best Picture The Lost Weekend Won
1945 Best Adapted Screenplay The Lost Weekend Won Billy Wilder
1946 Best Story To Each His Own Nominated
1948 Best Adapted Screenplay A Foreign Affair Nominated Billy Wilder & Richard L. Breen
1950 Best Picture Sunset Boulevard Nominated
1950 Best Original Screenplay Sunset Boulevard Won Billy Wilder & D. M. Marshman Jr.
1953 Best Original Screenplay Titanic Won Richard L. Breen & Walter Reisch
1956 Best Picture The King and I Nominated
1957 Honorary Award Won


  1. ^ See Drewey Wayne Gunn, Gay American Novels, 1870–1970: A Reader's Guide (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2016), 21-22.
  2. ^ Brackett, Charles, It's the Pictures That Got Small, Columbia University Press, 2015, pg. 92
  3. ^ "Charles Brackett Dies at 77; Made Oscar-Winning Movies. 'Sunset Boulevard,' 'The Lost Weekend' and 'Titanic' among his successes". The New York Times. March 10, 1969. Retrieved January 2, 2011. Charles Brackett was born in Saratoga Springs, NY, and graduated in 1915 from Williams College, where he was editor of the literary monthly and a member of…
  4. ^ Hopper, H. (December 27, 1953). "Charlie Brackett marries sister of his first wife". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 166556164.
  5. ^ Critchlow, Donald T. (October 21, 2013). When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics. ISBN 9781107650282.
  6. ^ "Secrets of a Secretary". AFI Catalog of Featured Films. Retrieved November 16, 2020.

External links[edit]

Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by President of Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences
Succeeded by