Leigh Brackett

While far more prolific in the realm of fantasy fiction, author-screenwriter Leigh Brackett contributed to a number of American cinema's most revered films. Starting out as a short fiction contributor to such pulp magazines as Astounding Science Fiction, she attracted the attention of director Howard Hawks - who was astonished to discover Brackett was a woman - with her debut novel, the gritty crime tale No Good from a Corpse in 1944. Her first big splash as a screenwriter was for her collaboration with Hawks on his adaptation of Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep" (1946), starring Humphrey Bogart as private eye Phillip Marlowe. To the surprise of many, she quickly abandoned her burgeoning Hollywood career after she married sci-fi novelist Edmond Hamilton, moved to Ohio, and focused almost exclusively on her fiction work. That was until Hawks brought her back to help write the John Wayne adventure "Rio Bravo" (1959), one of the most influential Westerns ever filmed. Hawks was so comfortable working with Brackett that he hired her back for two more Wayne Westerns, "El Dorado" (1967) and "Rio Lobo" (1970), each a loose reworking of "Rio Bravo." She returned to Marlowe with director Robert Altman's sly and subversive take on Chandler's final novel "The Long Goodbye" (1973) and later delivered a first draft for George Lucas' "Star Wars" (1977) sequel, "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) before her passing at the age of 62. A pioneer and a consummate professional, Brackett was a rare and irreplaceable voice in film, prematurely cut short, who left an indelible mark on several time-transcending classics.