An American novelist and screenwriter, he is best known for his screenplay for Criss Cross, a 1949 film noir. For the biopic film Love Me or Leave Me (1955), he won an Academy Award.
His early novels, including Summer in Williamsburg (1934) and Homage to Blenholt (1936), focus on Jewish life in the Williamsburg neighborhood of New York City.
He moved to Los Angeles when he was twenty-six years old to pursue a career in the film industry.
He was raised by his parents in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City. He died in Los Angeles, California.
His 1950 screenplay, Panic in the Streets, was made into a film directed by the legendary Elia Kazan.