Ernest Lehman


Biography of Ernest Lehman

Ernest Lehman (December 8, 1915 in New York City – July 2, 2005 in Los Angeles, California) was an American screenwriter. He received 6 Academy Award nominations during his screenwriting career. In 2001 he received an honorary Oscar for his works, the first screenwriter to receive that honor.

Lehman was born into a wealthy Jewish Long Island family whose fortunes were seriously affected by the Great Depression. Upon his graduation from College of the City of New York (The City College of New York), Lehman became a freelance writer. Lehman felt that freelancing was a "very nervous way to make a living" so he began writing copy for a publicity firm which focused on plays and celebrities. This experience helped form the basis of his 1957 film Sweet Smell of Success, which he co-wrote with Clifford Odets. Lehman wrote many short stories and novellas for magazines like Colliers, Redbook and Cosmopolitan. These attracted the attention of Hollywood and in the mid-1950s Paramount Pictures signed him to a writing contract. His first film, Executive Suite, was a success and he was asked to collaborate on the romantic comedy Sabrina, which also became a hit. Perhaps his most visible contribution to the Hollywood canon is the screenplay of the 1965 mega-hit film version of The Sound of Music.

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