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Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich (Getty Images)
Published: 11 months ago
Musicians often collaborate with their spouses, and film history is littered with fruitful artistic pairings of actor and director who also happened to be married. But writing teams of husband and wife are relatively rare. We're taking a look back at successful writing partners who were also romantic partners.
Harriet Frank Jr. and Irving Ravetch – Considered one of the all-time great screenwriting couples, the two wrote more than a dozen films together, including Hud (1963) and Norma Rae (both of which earned them Academy Award nominations for best adapted screenplay). Irving died Sept. 19, 2010. As of mid-2017, Harriet is still alive, having celebrated her 100th birthday March 2, 2017.
H.A. and Margaret Rey – Both were born in Germany, but they met in Rio in the 1920s. After marrying, they moved to Paris but then had to flee when the Nazis invaded. Among the few possessions they took with them to New York was a manuscript for a children’s book featuring an impish monkey the world would later know as Curious George. H.A. Rey died in 1977, while Margaret would live until 1996.
Alice and Martin Provensen – Both were born in Chicago, both raised in California, and both attended the Art Institute of Chicago. Alice took a job at Walter Lantz Studio, animators for Universal, while Martin worked at Disney. After they married and eventually wound up in New York City, they began illustrating the Little Golden Books series. In 1984 they received a Caldecott Medal for The Glorious Flight. They wrote and illustrated more than 50 books together before Martin died in 1987. Alice is still living and continues to write; she will celebrate her 99th birthday on Aug. 14, 2017.
Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett – Soon after marrying, the couple co-wrote the Broadway hit “Up Pops The Devil.” Contracted to adapt the work for the screen, they moved to Hollywood and launched a career as a screenwriting duo. Their work included The Thin Man (1934), Father of the Bride (1950), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), and The Diary of Anne Frank (1959). They received four Academy Award nominations during their career and won a Pulitzer prize for their stage work. Frances Goodrich died in 1994, and Albert Hackett died one year later.
Michael and Fay Kanin – Another screenwriting couple, they were responsible for Sunday Punch (1942), The Opposite Sex (1956), Rhapsody (1954) and would receive an Oscar nomination for Teacher’s Pet (1958). In the early fifties, they were blacklisted after being investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Fay Kanin would later serve four terms as the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Michael died in 1993 at the age of 83; Fay followed two decades later.
Dick and Mary Francis – Did they or didn’t they? Dick Francis was an accomplished jockey when he retired from the sport at age 37 and began writing crime novels. He produced a novel a year for the next 38 years, many of them international bestsellers. Even Queen Elizabeth was a fan. An unauthorized biography published in 1999 claimed Mary actually did much more of the work than she admitted (she claimed to help only with research), but that she stayed in the background for marketing reasons. Mary Francis died in September 2000. Dick collaborated with their son Felix on later works, before his death Feb. 14, 2010.
Vladimir and Vera Nabokov – Though not exactly a co-writer, Vera acted as Vladimir’s muse, translator, first reader, and editor. All his books were dedicated to her, she taught his classes when he was ill, and she penned much of his correspondence. She also once rescued Lolita from a fire when a frustrated Vladimir was trying to destroy it. That should count for something.
Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne – Joan Didion’s best-known works include Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968), The White Album (1970), and Play it as it Lays (1970). Her husband John Gregory Dunne wrote a bestselling book on the history of Fox Studios and the novel True Confessions, among others. They co-wrote several journalistic assignments and collaborated on screenplays for The Panic in Needle Park (1971), A Star is Born (1976), and Up Close and Personal (1996), among others. Didion’s 2005 memoir The Year of Magical Thinking chronicles her grief and the aftermath of her husband’s death.