The son of a New York theatrical producer and the nephew of film-star Marion Davies, Charles Lederer spent his 20s as a high-profile "boy wonder" journalist. Much of his work appeared in the publications of William Randolph Hearst, Davies' constant companion. Renowned for his quick wit, Lederer was a boon companion to most of New York's literary giants. Chief among these was Ben Hecht, who arranged for Lederer's first movie assignment: writing additional dialogue for the 1931 cinemadaptation of Hecht and Charles MacArthur's stage play The Front Page (Lederer also co-scripted the 1940 remake, His Girl Friday). No matter how busy, Lederer always managed to find time for his legendary practical jokes, usually in collusion with his Hollywood crony Harpo Marx. He shuttled between California and New York throughout the 1940s and 1950s, producing and/or co-writing such Broadway hits as Kismet and Can Can, and contributing to the screenplays of such noteworthy films as Kiss of Death (1947) and The Thing (1951). Lederer also directed three films: the 1942 murder mystery Fingers at the Window, the 1951 domestic seriocomic On the Loose, and the 1959 musical curiosity Never Steal Anything Small. Charles Lederer was married twice, first to Virginia Nicholson (ex-wife of another "boy wonder", Orson Welles), then to film actress Anne Shirley.