Harold Hecht spent the first half of his life in show business as a performer. After attending the American Laboratory Theatre in his native New York City, Hecht acted in Shakespearean and Chekhovian productions, then danced with the Martha Graham and Metropolitan Opera troupes. He came to Hollywood in 1932 as a dance director at Paramount Pictures. In the mid-1930s, Hecht left Hollywood to work with the Federal Theatre Project, then set up shop as a literary agent. After World War II, Hecht switched from handling books to handling actors; his biggest client was Burt Lancaster, with whom Hecht formed Norma Productions in 1947. Five years later, producer James Hill (at one time the husband of Rita Hayworth) joined the partnership, and the result was the independent film production firm of Hecht-Hill-Lancaster; among their best-known films were Apache (1954), Marty (1955), The Kentuckian (1955), Separate Tables (1957) The Unforgiven (1960) and The Birdman of Alcatraz (1962). Hecht split with his partners in the early 1960s, soloing on such productions as Flight From Ashiya (1964) and Cat Ballou (1965). Harold Hecht gave up filmmaking in 1967 in favor of a happy and wealthy retirement.