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."[1]

Charles K. Feldman
Charles Kenneth Gould

(1905-04-26)April 26, 1905
DiedMay 25, 1968(1968-05-25) (aged 63)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
Occupation(s)Producer and celebrity agent
Notable workThe Glass Menagerie,
A Streetcar Named Desire,
The Seven Year Itch
Spouse(s)Jean Howard
(1935 m.–1947 div.)[2]
Clotilde Barot
(April 1968 m.–death)

Early life

Charles Kenneth Gould was born to a Jewish family[3][4] in New York City on April 26, 1905.[5] His father was a diamond merchant who immigrated to New Jersey. Both of his parents, however, died of cancer[6] and he was orphaned at age six, along with his five siblings.[7] He was taken in by Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Feldman at age seven.[8] Feldman was from Bayonne, New Jersey and was a furniture-store owner.[6] A few years later, the Feldmans moved permanently to California.[8]


Charles Feldman studied at the University of Michigan[9] 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.[7] He became a lawyer for talent agencies,[9] and by age 30, he had become known as a Hollywood attorney; however, he became an agent instead.[7]


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.[10][9][8] In 1933, Schulberg left to form her own agency and the company was renamed the Famous Artists Agency. Felder combined his background as a lawyer with his celebrity connections to help find and contract jobs.[7] Among his first clients were Charles Boyer and Joan Bennett.[8] Feldman's Famous Artists was bought by Ted Ashley's Ashley-Steiner agency in 1962[11] 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.[7] 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.[12] Another tactic was the use of overlapping nonexclusive contracts with clients like Irene Dunne and Claudette Colbert,[11] demonstrating flexible alternatives to the so-called iron-clad studio contract in the classical Hollywood era.[12]

In 1942, Feldman was in charge of the Hollywood Victory Caravan for Army and Navy Relief.[8] As an agent, he became friends with celebrities like Jack Warner, Sam Goldwyn,[7] Gary Cooper, Greta Garbo, John Wayne, and many others.[9]


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".[13]

This idea was the beginning of Hollywood's "package deal."[7] 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.[7]

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,[14] which he felt was more or less a "bit part" in the 1945 cut.[15]

Charles K. Feldman Productions

He later went on to produce his own movies instead of selling the screenplays[7] and created the Charles K. Feldman Productions in 1945.

In 1947 he announced a deal where his company would help make three films at Republic Pictures, Orson Welles's Macbeth, Lewis Milestone's The Red Pony and Ben Hecht's The Shadow.[16] At Republic he also helped produce Moonrise (1948).[17]

This company produced A Streetcar Named Desire (1950) where Feldman had to fight to protect the script from censorship.[18]

He later produced The Seven Year Itch.[6] He was the agent of Marilyn Monroe from 1951 to 1955.[19]

In 1954 Feldman bought the rights to Ian Fleming's novel Casino Royale for $10,000.[1]

In 1956 he sold six books to 20th Century Fox including Heaven Knows Mr Allison, The Wayward Bus, Hilda Crane and Bernadine.[20]

A 1967 profile on Feldman said "he still sounds much like an agent when he talks."[21]

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.[7][6] He also gave up gambling in 1947.[7] 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.[8] He married Clotilde Barot on April 14, 1968[2] just six weeks before he died of pancreatic cancer.[6][5] He died May 25, 1968, although no funeral was held for him.[9] C. K. Feldman was interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood.[5]


Unmade Projects


  1. ^ a b C. K. FELDMAN, MOVIE MOGUL, DIES; AGED 63. (1968, May 26). Chicago Tribune (1963-Current File) Retrieved from
  2. ^ a b "Charles K. Feldman". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  3. ^ Vanity Fair: "Pictures of Jean" by Ben Brantley February 3, 2014
  4. ^ Jewish Telegraph: "THE GREATEST EVER JEWISH FILMS Oy Oy Seven! retrieved February 26, 2017
  5. ^ a b c Ellenberger, Allan R. (May 2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., Publishers. pp. 126–127. ISBN 9780786409839.
  6. ^ a b c d e Brantley, Ben. "Pictures of Jean". Vanity Fair. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Havemann, Ernest (April 17, 1950). "Packages of Stars: Agent Charles Feldman gambles on bundles of actors, directors, scripts". LIFE: 107–116. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Biskind, Peter (April 2003). "The Man Who Minted Style". Vanity Fair.
  9. ^ a b c d e "C. K. Feldman, Movie Mogul, Dies; Aged 63: A Talent Agent Who Became Producer". Chicago Tribune. May 26, 1968. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  10. ^ McCarthy, Todd. Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood. pp. chapter 23.
  11. ^ a b Rose, Frank (1995). The Agency: William Morris and the Hidden History of Show Business. New York: Harper Business. p. 104,263. ISBN 9780887307492.
  12. ^ a b Kemper, Tom. "Collaborating Agent: Charles Feldman and Clients". Questia. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  13. ^ By Telephone to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1942, Jun 04). SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  14. ^ Grimes, William (January 9, 1997). "Mystery of 'The Big Sleep' Solved". The New York Times. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  15. ^ Irwin, John T. (2006). Unless the Threat of Death is Behind Them: Hard-boiled Fiction and Film Noir. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 232. ISBN 9780801884351. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  16. ^ By THOMAS F BRADYSpecial to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1947, Mar 28). WELLES PLANNING 'MACBETH' AS FILM. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  17. ^ By Frank Daugherty Special to The Christian,Science Monitor. (1948, Feb 20). Dane clark in 'moonrise' movie version. The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current File) Retrieved from
  18. ^ By, T. F. (1950, May 28). THE HOLLYWOOD FILE. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  19. ^ Spoto, Donald. Marilyn Monroe: The Biography. Cooper Square Press. p. 610. ISBN 9780815411833. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  20. ^ Special to The New,York Times. (1955, Sep 10). SIX BOOKS BOUGHT FOX FOR FILMS. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  21. ^ Charles K. feldman shows independence as producer. (1967, Jul 20). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  22. ^ By THOMAS F BRADYSpecial to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1947, Mar 28). WELLES PLANNING 'MACBETH' AS FILM. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  23. ^ Schallert, E. (1950, Jan 18). Drama. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  24. ^ By THOMAS M PRYOR Special to The New,York Times. (1956, Nov 05). SPEWACK COMEDY BOUGHT FOR FILM. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  25. ^ By, S. Z. (1958, Oct 21). PLAY BY BEHRMAN MAY BE A MOVIE. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  26. ^ a b c By A.H. WEILER. (1962, Feb 04). BY WAY OF REPORT. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  27. ^ Martin, B. (1965, Apr 14). MOVIE CALL SHEET. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  28. ^ a b Martin, B. (1965, Oct 04). Leslie caron in 'lot's wife'. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from