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Charles K. Feldman
American attorney, film producer and talent agent
Charles K. Feldman (April 26, 1905 - May 25, 1968) was a Hollywood attorney, film producer and talent agent who founded the Famous Artists talent agency.
According to one obituary, Feldman disdained publicity. "Feldman was an enigma to Hollywood. No one knew what he was up to – from producing a film to packaging one for someone else."
The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Seven Year Itch
Jean Howard (1935 m.–1947 div.) Clotilde Barot (April 1968 m.–death)
Charles Kenneth Gould was born to a Jewish family 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 left his job as a lawyer and co-founded with Adeline Schulberg, the Schulberg-Feldman talent agency which was soon joined by Schulberg's brother Sam Jaffe and Noll Gurney. In 1933, Schulberg left to form her own agency and the company was renamed the Famous Artists Agency. Feldman 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 was bought by Ted Ashley's Ashley-Steiner agency in 1962 and renamed Ashley-Famous.
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 negotiate 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 sold 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 June 1942 Feldman signed Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott and John Wayne and presented them to Universal for Pittsburgh along with the script and director as a "package".
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.
A 1967 profile on Feldman said "he still sounds much like an agent when he talks."
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.