With partner Burt Lancaster, one of the first Hollywood producers to break away from the traditional studio system and to handle every aspect of film production on an independent basis. Hecht first came to Hollywood as a dance director on several features of the early 1930s including the Marx Bros. college romp, "Horsefeathers" (1932) and the Mae West classic "She Done Him Wrong" (1933). He had previously performed on the New York stage as an actor and a dancer. Hecht began studying at the prestigious American Laboratory Theater at 16 and appeared in various local classical productions during his five-year stint there. He went on to dance with the Metropolitan Opera and Martha Graham companies.
Hecht left Hollywood for a time to join the Federal Theater Project in 1934. He returned to Tinseltown as an agent and, in this capacity, "discovered" the young Burt Lancaster in a NY show and brought him West. The pair formed Harold Hecht-Norma Productions in 1948 (renamed Hecht-Lancaster Productions in 1954 and finally Hecht-Lancaster-Hill Productions after the addition of partner James Hill) and produced "Kiss the Blood Off My Hands" (1948), a so-so noir starring Lancaster and Joan Fontaine. Their subsequent collaborations included "The Crimson Pirate" (1952), "Apache" and "Vera Cruz" (both 1954). Hecht won a 1955 Best Picture Oscar as the producer of "Marty," a modest and moving adaptation of the celebrated TV play by Paddy Chayevsky. His last production of note was the well-received Western comedy "Cat Ballou" (1965) starring Jane Fonda and the Oscar-winning Lee Marvin.
Producer (Feature Film)
Dance (Feature Film)
Production Companies (Feature Film)
Joined the American Laboratory Theater at 16 to study drama; appeared on the NY stage in various classical productions (date approximate)
Joined the Federal Theater Project
Formed Harold Hecht-Norma Productions with Lancaster
Feature debut as executive producer, "Kiss the Blood Off My Hands"
Changed company name to Hecht-Lancaster Productions; later joined by James Hill
Dissolved Hecht-Lancaster-Hill Productions