Goodrich was born in New Jersey in 1890. After graduating from Vassar College in 1912, she went to New York where she studied for a year at the New York School of Social Work. Her first acting experience was with a Massachusetts stock company, but in 1916 she made her Broadway debut.
Hackett was born in New York in 1900, the son of professional actors. He made his stage debut when he was six years old. He performed in silent films and on stage before becoming a writer.
Goodrich and Hackett met in 1927, when both were performing with a Denver stock company. They soon began working as a writing team. The first collaborative effort was the play Up Pops the Devil, which opened in New York in 1930 and was made into a film the following year. Also in 1931, the couple married.
By 1932, Hollywood’s MGM studio was contracting their writing services; between 1933 and 1939, they wrote thirteen films, many of them box-office successes. Their work, such as 1934’s The Thin Man and its sequels, was characterized by its literate and sophisticated dialogue. After a brief return to New York to write plays and act, in 1941 Goodrich and Hackett signed on with Paramount but found few rewarding assignments there. In 1946, they moved to RKO to work on It’s a Wonderful Life. In the 1940s, Goodrich and Hackett wrote several more award-winning scripts, including Easter Parade (1948), Father of the Bride (1950), and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954).
By the 1950s, however, Goodrich and Hackett had become interested in a different sort of project: an adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank. They worked on this script for two years, even meeting with Otto Frank and visiting the attic where the Franks and four other Jews hid from the Nazis. The play opened on Broadway in 1955, and it was the high point of their careers, earning a Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In 1959, they adapted the play into a film, but though it was a critical success, it did not gain popularity at the box office.
Goodrich and Hackett’s final film was 1962’s Five Finger Exercise. After its failure, they returned to New York and ceased writing screenplays. Goodrich died of cancer on January 19, 1984, in New York. Hackett died of pneumonia on March 16, 1995, in New York.
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