Jay Dratler was a screenwriter and novelist. Born in New York City, after attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the late 1920s, he transferred to a college in France where he became fluent in French and German.
Cashing in on his exceptional language skills on his return to the United States, he become a successful screenwriter and novelist. He was considered very influential during the classic era of film noir in the 1940s. He won both an Academy Award and an Edgar Allan Poe Award for Call Northside 777, and was nominated for an Oscar for his writing on Laura. The 1948 film Pitfall was based on Dratler's novel of the same title.
His son, Jay Dratler, Jr., became a professor of law.