Charles K. Feldman

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Charles K. Feldman (April 26, 1905 – May 25, 1968) was a Hollywood attorney, film producer and talent agent.

Early life

Charles Kenneth Gould was born in New York City on April 26, 1905. 

His father was a diamond merchant who immigrated to New Jersey. Both of his parents, however, died of cancer and he was orphaned at age six, along with his five siblings. He was taken in by Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Feldman at age seven. Feldman was from Bayonne, New Jersey and was a furniture-store owner. A few years later, the Feldmans moved permanently to California.


Charles Feldman studied at the University of Michigan and later became a lawyer, earning his degree from the University of Southern California. He earned money to put himself through college by working as a mail carrier and a cameraman in a movie studio. He became a lawyer for talent agencies, and by age 30, he had become known as a Hollywood attorney; however, he became an agent instead. In 1932, Feldman founded the Famous Artists corporation and left his job as a lawyer. He was joined by Ad Schulberg. Felder combined his background as a lawyer with his celebrity connections to help find and contract jobs. Among his first clients were Charles Boyer and Joan Bennett. Feldman's Famous Artists which was bought by Ashley-Steiner Famous in 1962.

Feldman began using new tactics in his field. He would buy story ideas contract them to unemployed writers to make into a screenplay. He would also negotiating one-picture deals for a star, not a long-term studio contract, as was the custom. This way clients could work at multiple studios simultaneously. Feldman also combined several clients into one package and selling them to a producer or studio as one unit. Another tactic was the use of overlapping nonexclusive contracts with clients like Irene Dunne and Claudette Colbert, demonstrating flexible alternatives to the so-called iron-clad studio contract in the classical Hollywood era.

In 1942, Feldman was in charge of the Hollywood Victory Caravan for Army and Navy Relief. 

As an agent, he became friends with celebrities like Jack Warner, Sam Goldwyn, Gary cooper, Greta Garbo, John Wayne, and many others. This idea was the beginning of Hollywood's "package deal." One of his greatest successes was The Bishop's Wife which was produced in 1948. He bought the rights to the book by Robert Nathan for $15,000 and sold the screen play for $200,000.

Feldman held considerable sway in the making of some films. It was Feldman who suggested to Jack L. Warner (as a friend) that he recut Howard Hawks's Big Sleep and add scenes to enhance Bacall's performance, which he felt was more or less a "bit part" in the 1945 cut.

He later went on to produce his own movies instead of selling the screenplays and created the Charles K. Feldman Productions in 1945. This company produced A Streetcar Named Desire and The Seven Year Itch. He was the agent of Marilyn Monroe from 1951 to 1955.

Notable films
  • Orson Welles's Macbeth (1948)
  • The Glass Menagerie (1950)
  • A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) which was nominated for an Academy Award
  • The Seven Year Itch (1955)
  • What's New Pussycat? (1965)
  • The Group (1966)
  • The Honey Pot (1967)
  • The satirical James Bond film adaptation Casino Royale (1967)

Personal life and death

In 1935 Feldman married actress Jean Howard. They fought frequently, and divorced in 1947; however, they remained good friends and even continued to share a house for some time. He also gave up gambling in 1947. Throughout his life, his biological siblings often sent him letters asking for money. Although he preferred to not have contact with them, he did send money and old clothes. He married Clotilde Barot on April 14, 1968 just six weeks before he died of pancreatic cancer. 

He died May 25, 1968, although no funeral was held for him. C. K. Feldman was interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood.


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