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Samuel Goldwyn DIRECTOR


Samuel Goldwyn was born Shmuel (or Schmuel) Gelbfisz on August 17, 1879 in Warsaw, Poland to a Jewish Polish family. He grew up in poverty, leaving his home at age sixteen on foot and without money. Going by the name Samuel Goldfish, he arrived in Birmingham, England, where he stayed with relatives for a few years. In 1889 he saved up enough money to make the trip across the Atlantic to America, stopping first in Nova Scotia, Canada. In 1899 he made it to upstate Gloversville, New York. He worked his way up the corporate ladder at a glove company, eventually becoming a partner and moving to Manhattan. Here he met and married Blanche Lasky, sister of vaudeville performer Jesse L. Lasky. (They would later divorce, after having one child.)
In 1913 Goldfish teamed up with Jesse L. Lasky to create the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company. Their first picture, “The Squaw Man” (1914) starring Dustin Farnum, directed by the ambitious and young Cecil B. DeMille, was an instant success. In 1916 the company merged with Adolph Zukor’s Famous Players, forming Famous Players-Lasky Corporation. With the merger, Zukor had become president of both Famous Players-Lasky and Paramount Pictures, and Goldfish was named chairman of Famous Players-Lasky. Following a number of conflicts with Zukor, Goldfish resigned as chairman of the board. Famous Players-Lasky would later become a part of the major Hollywood studio Paramount Pictures Corporation.
Within a short time, he went into partnership with Broadway producers Archibald and Edgar Selwyn, forming Goldwyn Pictures Corporation (the name came from combining Selwyn with Goldfish). Soon, he adopted Samuel Goldwyn as his legal name. Their “Leo the Lion” trademark turned into a famous legacy, and it was later adopted by the corporation’s successor, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).
By 1922, Goldwyn had been forced out of the company by the Selwyn brothers. Two years later they merged with Marcus Loew’s Metro Pictures and Louis B. Mayer Productions to form Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Although his name was in association with the company, Goldwyn actually never had anything to do with the MGM studio. Instead, the producer formed Samuel Goldwyn Productions.
For the next thirty five years, he built a reputation for the quality of his films. This was achieved because of his unique filmmaking philosophy. As opposed to other studios, Samuel Goldwyn Productions would only make one film at a time. In making the film, it must be done well, not sparing any expenses for the best directors, actors, writers, cinematographers, composers, and designers. Because of this, the studio never put out a 'B' picture, but instead every Samuel Goldwyn production was important and of the best quality. Some of the talent that worked with the producer over his decades long career include distinguished actors like Gary Cooper, Will Rogers, Eddie Cantor, and Laurence Olivier; directors such as King Vidor, John Ford, Howard Hawks, Otto Preminger, and William Wyler; as well as writers like Billy Wilder, Dorothy Parker, Lillian Hellman, and Edna Ferber.
With the advent of talking pictures, the studio’s reputation was boosted even more. Films such as the thrillerBulldog Drummond” (1929) starring Ronald Colman, Montagu Love and Joan Bennett, romantic drama “Street Scene” (1931) starring Sylvia Sidney and Beulah Bondi, and drama “Arrowsmith” (1931) starring Ronald Colman and Helen Hayes, were all huge success. The latter earned Goldwyn a nomination for Best Picture – the first of many.
The producer excelled in multiple genres, ranging from serious dramas like “These Three” (1936) starring Merle Oberon, Miriam Hopkins, Joel McCrea and Bonita Granville and “Dodsworth” (1936) starring Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Paul Lukas and Mary Astor, to the literary adaptation of “Wuthering Heights” (1939) starring Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, Geraldine Fitzgerald and David Niven. He also made outstanding comedies, such as “Ball of Fire” (1941) starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, “Wonder Man” (1945) starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo, and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (1947) again starring the duo of Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo. Musicals additionally proved to be one of his strong suits, with major successes including the Busby Berkeley choreographed “Whoopee!” (1930) starring Eddie Cantor, “Palmy Days” (1931) starring Eddie Cantor, Charlotte Greenwood, George Raft and Charles Middleton, and “Roman Scandals” (1933) starring Eddie Cantor, Gloria Stuart and Edward Arnold, as well as the Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra vehicle “Guys and Dolls” (1955). 1942’s biographical “The Pride of the Yankees”, about baseball legend Lou Gehrig starring Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Dan Duryea, Teresa Wright and Babe Ruth himself, also found high accolades. However, the climax of Goldwyn’s career was with 1946’s “The Best Years of Our Lives” starring Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright and Virginia Mayo, which focused on three World War II veterans as they returned home to their families in America. The picture won an Honorary Award and seven Oscars, including Best Picture. At the same ceremony, the producer was bestowed with the Academy’s Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award.
In the latter part of Goldwyn’s career, his record shared equals parts failure and success. For every hit, like “Hans Christian Anderson” (1952) starring Danny Kaye, there was also a miss, such as “Porgy and Bess” (1959) starring Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Diahann Carroll, Sammy Davis Jr., Brock Peters and Pearl Bailey, which also served as his final film. Soon afterwards, he retired from filmmaking, ending the most illustrious independent film career in motion picture history. In 1958 he earned the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy Awards. In 1973 he was bestowed the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Golden Globes. Goldwyn was also given two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
On January 31, 1974, in Los Angeles, California, the producer died from heart failure at age ninety four. In the 1980's, Samuel Goldwyn Studios was sold to Warner Brothers Pictures. A theater was later named after the famed filmmaker. His son, Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. (from his second marriage to actress Frances Howard in 1925), joined his father in the film industry, and still remains an active producer. His grandchildren, Tony and John, are very involved in show business as well.

1959  Porgy and Bess 

1955  Guys and Dolls 
1952  Hans Christian Andersen 

1951  I Want You 

1951  On the Loose 
1951  Sealed Cargo  

1950  The Fighting Pimpernel

1950  Edge of Doom 
1950  Our Very Own 

1949  My Foolish Heart 

1949  Roseanna McCoy    
1949  They Live by Night

1948  Enchantment 

1948  A Song Is Born 
1947  The Bishop's Wife 

1947  The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 

1946  The Best Years of Our Lives  
1946  Magnificent Doll

1946  The Kid from Brooklyn 

1945  Wonder Man 
1944  The Princess and the Pirate 

1944  Up in Arms 

1943  The North Star 
1943  They Got Me Covered 

1942  The Pride of the Yankees

1942  Spitfire
1941  Ball of Fire 

1941  The Little Foxes 

1940  The Westerner 
1939  Raffles 

1939  The Real Glory 

1939  They Shall Have Music 
1939  Wuthering Heights 

1938  The Cowboy and the Lady 

1938  The Adventures of Marco Polo 
1938  The Goldwyn Follies 

1937  The Hurricane 

1937  Dead End 
1937  Stella Dallas 

1937  Woman Chases Man 

1936  Beloved Enemy 
1936  Come and Get It 

1936  Dodsworth 

1936  These Three 
1936  Strike Me Pink 

1935  Splendor 

1935  Barbary Coast 
1935  The Dark Angel 

1935  The Wedding Night 

1934  Kid Millions 
1934  We Live Again 

1934  Nana 

1933  Roman Scandals 
1933  The Masquerader 

1932  Cynara

1932  The Kid from Spain 
1932  Arsène Lupin 

1932  The Greeks Had a Word for Them 

1931  Tonight or Never 
1931  Arrowsmith 

1931  The Unholy Garden 

1931  Palmy Days 
1931  Street Scene 

1931  One Heavenly Night 

1930  The Devil to Pay
1930  Whoopee! 

1930  Raffles 

1929  Condemned 
1929  This Is Heaven 

1929  Bulldog Drummond 

1929  The Rescue 
1928  The Awakening 

1928  Two Lovers 

1927  The Devil Dancer 
1927  The Magic Flame 

1927  The Night of Love 

1926  The Winning of Barbara Worth
1926  Partners Again 

1926  The Son of the Sheik  

1925  Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ 
1925  Stella Dallas 

1925  A Thief in Paradise   

1925  The Dark Angel 
1925  His Supreme Moment 

1924  In Hollywood with Potash and Perlmutter 

1924  Cytherea 
1924  True As Steel 

1924  Nellie, the Beautiful Cloak Model 

1924  Three Weeks 
1924  Name the Man  

1924  Tarnish

1923  The Eternal City 
1923  The Day of Faith 

1923  Unseeing Eyes 

1923  The Eternal Three 
1923  Potash and Perlmutter 

1923  Lost and Found on a South Sea Island 

1923  The Christian  
1923  Souls for Sale 

1922  Broken Chains

1922  A Blind Bargain 
1922  Hungry Hearts 

1922  Remembrance 

1922  Mr. Barnes of New York 
1922  His Back Against the Wall 

1922  Head Over Heels 

1922  Sherlock Holmes 
1922  Watch Your Step 

1921  Doubling for Romeo 

1921  The Ace of Hearts 
1921  Oh Mary Be Careful 

1921  Don't Neglect Your Wife 

1921  A Tale of Two Worlds 
1921  Boys Will Be Boys 

1921  What Ho, the Cook 

1921  Mad Love
1921  The Highest Bidder

1920  The Branding Iron 

1920  The North Wind's Malice 
1920  Milestones  

1920  Earthbound 

1920  Going Some 
1920  A Double-Dyed Deceiver 

1920  Out of the Storm 

1920  The Great Accident  
1920  The Silver Horde 

1920  The Strange Boarder 

1920  Dangerous Days 
1920  The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come 

1920  The Cup of Fury 

1920  What Happened to Rosa 
1920  Guile of Women 

1920  The Great Lover 

1920  Officer 666 
1920  Honest Hutch 

1920  The Penalty 

1920  The Truth 
1920  The Slim Princess 

1920  Cupid the Cowpuncher 

1920  Jes' Call Me Jim 
1920  The Adventures and Emotions of Edgar Pomeroy 

1920  Partners of the Night 
1920  The Paliser Case 

1920  Water, Water, Everywhere 

1920  Pinto 
1919  Jubilo 

1919  Almost a Husband 

1919  Lord and Lady Algy 
1919  Upstairs 

1919  The Stronger Vow

1919  Sis Hopkins  
1919  Toby's Bow 

1919  Jinx 

1919  The Loves of Letty
1919  Strictly Confidential 

1919  The World and Its Woman

1919  Through the Wrong Door 
1919  The City of Comrades 

1919  The Fear Woman 

1919  One of the Finest 
1919  Leave It to Susan 

1919  When Doctors Disagree 

1919  The Eternal Magdalene 
1919  The Pest 

1919  A Man and His Money 

1919  Spotlight Sadie 
1919  Daughter of Mine 

1919  The Woman on the Index 

1919  Shadows 
1919  The Bondage of Barbara 

1919  Day Dreams 

1918  Go West, Young Man
1918  The Racing Strain 

1918  A Perfect Lady

1918  The Hell Cat 
1918  A Perfect 36 

1918  Thirty a Week 

1918  Laughing Bill Hyde 
1918  Peck's Bad Girl 

1918  The Turn of the Wheel 

1918  All Woman 
1918  The Floor Below 

1918  The Beloved Traitor 

1917  The Cinderella Man
1917  Sunshine Alley 

1917  Fighting Odds 

1917  Polly of the Circus   

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