Mark Hellinger Biography

Mark Hellinger (March 21, 1903 - December 21, 1947) was an American journalist, theatre columnist and film producer.

Hellinger was born into an Orthodox Jewish family in New York City, although in later life he became a non-practicing Jew. When he was fifteen, he organized a student strike at Townsend Harris High School and was expelled for his actions. This proved to be the end of his formal education.

In 1921, Hellinger began working as a waiter and cashier at a Greenwich Village night club in order to meet theatre people. He later was employed by Lane Bryant to write direct mail advertising for clothing for overweight and pregnant women. The following year he began his journalistic career as a reporter for Zit's Weekly, a theatrical publication, where he remained for eighteen months.

In 1923, Hellinger moved to the city desk of the New York Daily News. In July 1925, he was assigned About Town, a Sunday column his editors intended him to fill with news and gossip about Broadway theatre. Instead, he filled the space with short stories in the style of O. Henry. When his columns drew a considerable amount of fan mail, he was permitted to continue in this vein. Three years later he graduated to a daily feature called Behind the News. He numbered such personalities as Walter Winchell, Florenz Ziegfeld, Texas Guinan, Dutch Schultz, and Legs Diamond among his friends.

In November 1929, Hellinger moved to the New York Daily Mirror. While continuing to write daily and Sunday columns, he contributed sketches to the Ziegfeld Follies, wrote plays, published magazine articles, produced two collections of short stories, Moon Over Broadway (1931) and The Ten Million (1934), and co-wrote the screenplay for Broadway Bill with Robert Riskin.