Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett biography
Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett
At Writers Theatre: The Diary of Anne Frank
Goodrich & Hackett began their enormously successful and remarkably prolific collaboration in 1928, a partnership that lasted 34 years. The privileged daughter of well-to-do parents, Frances Goodrich attended Vassar before beginning her career as an actress, first appearing on Broadway in 1916. By the time she met fellow actor Albert Hackett in the late 1920s she had already been divorced twice. Nine years the junior of his wife, Albert Hackett was the son of stage star Florence Hackett and brother of matinee idol Raymond Hackett. The Manhattan-born Albert first appeared onstage at the age of six to help earn money for his family after the death of his father. He eventually went on to study at New York’s Professional Children’s School. Like Goodrich, Hackett met with modest success as an actor, and their initial collaboration arose as a result of their mutual desire to leave acting in favor of playwriting. The two were married while collaborating on their first Broadway hit, Up Pops the Devil. Their success on Broadway eventually led to the pair being signed as a writing team by MGM, where they launched the popular Thin Man series. While there would be another Broadway production on the Goodrich/Hackett docket in the 1940s, The Great Big Doorstep, for the most part the couple devoted their time to screen writing. They were particularly skilled at adapting the works of others to meet the restrictions and requirements of the movies. Among their most famous film credits were adaptations of Owen Wister’s The Virginian, S.N. Behman’s The Pirate, Edward Streeter’s Father of the Bride, and the musical version of Stephen Vincent Benet’s Sobbin' Women, released as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Goodrich and Hackett were also among the many writers who toiled on Frank Capra’s It's a Wonderful Life. Writing the stage version of The Diary of Anne Frank was the achievement of which both Goodrich and Hackett were most proud. The job of adapting the diary had originally been offered to Lillian Hellman, who turned it down, saying that if she wrote the play “It would run one night because it would be deeply depressing.” She, in turn, recommended Goodrich and Hackett because they possessed a “lighter touch.” It took the couple two years and eight rewrites before they came up with a draft which pleased Otto Frank, Anne’s father. The original Broadway production received the 1956 Tony Award for Best Play, and the script received the 1956 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Goodrich and Hackett also adapted the play for the screen in 1959. Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett remained married until her death in 1984. Albert Hackett passed away in 1995.