Charles K. Feldman

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Charles K. Feldman (April 26, 1905 – May 25, 1968) was a Hollywood attorney, film producer and talent agent.


Charles Kenneth Gould was born in New York City April 26, 1905. The name Feldman is actually that of his foster parents. At an early age, he was orphaned (along with 5 siblings), and went to foster parents at age seven. He was taken in by Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Feldman of Bayonne, NJ. A few years later, the Feldmans moved permanently to California. Charlie Feldman became a lawyer, finishing his law studies at UCLA and USC with honors. He began his law career humbly as a law clerk for a successful Los Angeles attorney, but longed to be in Hollywood as an attorney. Eventually, he decided to become a combination lawyer and agent, and it worked very well to his advantage. In 1935 he married actress Jean Howard after love at first sight, but he could not keep her happy because of his long work hours and devotion to his business. They divorced in 1947 but remained good friends. He managed the careers of Howard Hawks, John Wayne, George Stevens, Claudette Colbert, Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer, Lauren Bacall Kirk Douglas, Ava Gardner, Tyrone Power and many others.

C.K. Feldman (as he was known) pioneered several new tactics that eventually became the industry standard. One was negotiating one-picture deals for a star, not a long-term studio contract, as was the custom. Another was combining several clients into one package and selling them to a producer or studio as one unit. This was highly novel at the time, but when an original story was tied up neatly with a big name star or director on it, the producers couldn't refuse. Today, the "package deal" is a standard operating procedure in the film industry. Another tactic was the use of overlapping nonexclusive contracts with clients like Irene Dunne and Claudette Colbert, demonstrating flexible alternatives to the so-called iron-clad studio contract in the classical Hollywood era. One of the most powerful agents in Hollywood at the time, Feldman won percentages of the film's profits for his clients. Feldman held considerable sway in the making of some films. It was Feldman who suggested to Jack L. Warner (as a friend) that he recut Howard Hawks's Big Sleep and add scenes to enhance Bacall's performance, which he felt was more or less a 'bit part' in the 1945 cut.

Among some of Feldman's more notable films: the Orson Welles Macbeth (1948), The Glass Menagerie (1950), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) which was nominated for an Academy Award, The Seven Year Itch (1955), What's New Pussycat? (1965), The Group (1966), The Honey Pot (1967) and the satirical James Bond film adaptation Casino Royale (1967).

On his death in 1968, C. K. Feldman was interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood.

Some of this content quoted from an article by Willard L. Wiener for Collier's Magazine, August 6, 1949

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