Irving Thalberg
Film producer
Irving Thalberg
Irving Grant Thalberg was an American film producer during the early years of motion pictures. He was called "The Boy Wonder" for his youth and his extraordinary ability to select the right scripts, choose the right actors, gather the best production staff and make hundreds of very profitable films, including Grand Hotel, China Seas, Camille, Mutiny on the Bounty and The Good Earth.
Biography
Irving Thalberg's personal information overview.
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News
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<i>A Night at the Opera</i> Screens This Weekend (But Maybe You Should Watch ... - The L Magazine (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Exactly) and, more to the point, produced by Irving Thalberg, A Night at the Opera, from 1935, is the Marx Brothers&#39; Maginot line: an elaborate structure constructed in hopes of avoiding the decline that inevitably followed
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The Goonies (1985) - North Coast Journal
Google News - over 5 years
MGM mogul Irving Thalberg once reportedly told the Marx Brothers, “You can&#39;t build jokes on top of jokes.” The producers of Naked Gun prove otherwise; indeed, one could develop writer&#39;s cramp just listing the gags in the film&#39;s first 20 minutes
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MGM flicks get top Marx for trying - The Australian
Google News - over 5 years
Legendary MGM production head Irving Thalberg was convinced that by toning down the non-stop barrage of insults and buttressing stories with musical numbers and romantic subplots, the boys would find greater favour with the film-going public
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It's hard to top Ingmar Bergman - Orlando Sentinel
Google News - over 5 years
Bergman never won a competitive Oscar; he was given the Irving Thalberg Award in 1971. The final line in &quot;Through a Glass Darkly&quot; is the poignant &quot;Papa spoke to me.&quot; I love sending mail, even bills, now that I have my Gregory Peck stamps
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Jewison retrospective: humble director says some of his films 'worked very well' - Winnipeg Free Press
Google News - over 5 years
&quot;I think we&#39;re always flattered when people pat you on the head and tell you you&#39;ve done a good job or you&#39;ve done a lousy job or whatever,&quot; said Jewison, whose only actual Academy Award trophy came in the form of Oscar&#39;s prestigious Irving Thalberg
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ARTS, BRIEFLY; Motion Picture Academy to Honor Oprah Winfrey and James Earl Jones
NYTimes - over 5 years
LOS ANGELES - Oprah Winfrey will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and the actor James Earl Jones and the makeup artist Dick Smith will receive honorary Oscars for lifetime achievement this year from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the academy said late Tuesday. The awards will be presented at a Governors Awards banquet,
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Play Review - Fun 'Moonlight' illuminates the making of 'Wind' - StarNewsOnline.com
Google News - over 5 years
... (Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, with whom Selznick continues the long-standing movie industry tradition of lying to the press) and producers (Sam Goldwyn, Jack Warner and especially Irving Thalberg, who Selznick feels hopelessly inferior to)
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DVD Extra: Pre-code madness -- 'Kongo,' 'The Letter' -- and soap - New York Post (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Rivaled only by &quot;Freaks&#39;&#39; (released the same year) as the least typical and glossy film from MGM uber-producer Irving Thalberg, it&#39;s a remake of a 1926 Broadway play that had served as a Lon Chaney vehicle under the title &quot;West of Zanzibar
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Sony's Remake of Studio System
NYTimes - over 5 years
LOS ANGELES -- If Louis B. Mayer haunts the Irving Thalberg Building, once his seat of power at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, he may recognize more than the walnut walls. The building is now the home of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and there are signs that Mayer's old studio system is being revived. As Hollywood has backed away from movie stars as too
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Anatomy of an Ad Campaign: The Marx Bros. A Day at the Races - San Diego Reader (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Credit cultivated producer Irving Thalberg for starting the Marxes on their long, slow celluloid decline. Thalberg snatched the boys away from Paramount in 1935 after the studio failed to renew their contract. Aside from producing Freaks and giving the
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Tod Browning – From the Sideshow to the Big Screen - Legacy.com
Google News - over 5 years
Not long after, he met Universal producer Irving Thalberg who thought the director would make a good collaborator with an actor on the payroll named Lon Chaney. Browning and Chaney&#39;s first film together was the pickpocket melodrama The Wicked Darling
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Not So Hollywood Wedding Night: Ava Gardner and Mickey Rooney - Big Hollywood
Google News - over 5 years
Thus, it&#39;s not surprising that Rooney pursued women with an obsessive compulsion, seeking affection and love in all the wrong places: call girls, ambitious actresses and mature women—including Irving Thalberg&#39;s widow Norma Shearer—smitten by Rooney&#39;s
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Janet Leigh's Best Roles - Legacy.com
Google News - over 5 years
Janet Leigh&#39;s film career began when she was discovered by silent star Norma Shearer, widow of former MGM producer Irving Thalberg, who met her while on a ski vacation at the Sugar Bowl resort. Shearer showed her photograph to legendary agent Lew
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Louis B. Mayer: Born on the 4th of July? - Legacy.com
Google News - over 5 years
With producer Irving Thalberg, the first movie Mayer made as head of MGM (aside from two projects he inherited) was the Lon Chaney vehicle He Who Gets Slapped, which was a commercial and critical hit. Mayer and Thalberg proved a successful pairing,
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Irving Thalberg
    THIRTIES
  • 1936
    Age 36
    Thalberg and Shearer took a much-needed Labor Day weekend vacation in Monterey, California, in 1936, staying at the same beachfront hotel where they spent their honeymoon.
    More Details Hide Details A few weeks earlier, Thalberg's leading screenwriter, Al Lewin, had proposed doing a film based on a soon-to-be published book, Gone With the Wind. Although Thalberg said it would be a "sensational" role for Gable, and a "terrific picture," he decided not to do it: Besides, Thalberg told Mayer, "no Civil War picture ever made a nickel". Shortly after returning from Monterey, Thalberg was diagnosed with pneumonia. His condition worsened steadily and he eventually required an oxygen tent at home. He died the following morning at the age of 37. Sam Wood, while directing A Day at the Races, was given the news by phone. He returned to the set with tears in his eyes and told the others. As the news spread "the studio was paralyzed with shock," notes Thomas. "Work stopped and hundreds of people wept," writes Flamini. Stars, writers, directors, and studio employees, "all sharing a sense of loss at the death of a man who had been a part of their working lives."
  • 1933
    Age 33
    When Thalberg returned to work in 1933, it was as one of the studio's unit producers, albeit one who had first choice on projects and MGM resources, including its stars, due to his closeness to Nicholas Schenck, who was then president of MGM corporate parent Loew's Inc.
    More Details Hide Details Schenck, who was the true power and ultimate arbiter at the studio, usually backed up Thalberg. As a result, he helped develop some of MGM's most prestigious ventures, including Grand Hotel (1932), The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934 film starring his wife Norma Shearer), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), China Seas (1935), A Night at the Opera (1935) with the Marx Brothers, San Francisco (1936), and Romeo and Juliet (1936). During his few years with Universal while living in New York, Thalberg had become romantically involved with Carl Laemmle's daughter, Rosabelle. Still in his early twenties and later spending most of his time in Los Angeles, his feelings toward her were no longer as strong. Flamini suspects that this may have affected his position at Universal and partly caused his decision to leave the company. " The Laemmles prayed that Irving would marry Rosabelle," notes Flamini. "They wanted their sons to be educated and their daughters to marry nice Jewish boys."
  • 1932
    Age 32
    When Thalberg fell ill in 1932, Mayer took advantage of the situation and replaced him with David O. Selznick and Walter Wanger.
    More Details Hide Details
    The film won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1932.
    More Details Hide Details Thalberg went against consensus and took another risk with The Great Ziegfeld (1936), costarring Luise Rainer. Although Louis B. Mayer did not want her in the role, which he felt was too minor for a new star, Thalberg felt that "only she could play the part", notes biographer Charles Higham. Shortly after shooting began in late 1935, doubts of Rainer's acting ability emerged in the press. However, despite her limited appearances in the film, Rainer "so impressed audiences with one highly emotional scene" that she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. After her winning role in The Great Ziegfeld, Thalberg wanted her to play a role that was the opposite of her previous character, for The Good Earth (1937). For the part as a Chinese peasant, she was required to act totally subservient to her husband, being perpetually huddled in submission, and barely spoke a word of dialogue during the entire film. Rainer recalls that Mayer did not approve of the film being produced or her part in it: "He was horrified at Irving Thalberg's insistence for me to play O-lan, the poor uncomely little Chinese peasant." However, she again won the Oscar for Best Actress, becoming the first actress to win two consecutive Oscars, a feat not matched until Katharine Hepburn's two Oscar wins thirty years later.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1927
    Age 27
    A few years after he joined MGM, Thalberg began dating actress Norma Shearer, and they married in 1927.
    More Details Hide Details The wedding took place in the garden of his rented home in Beverly Hills. Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin officiated the private ceremony, with Shearer's brother, Douglas Shearer, giving the bride away, and Louis B. Mayer acting as best man. After the wedding, they drove up the coast to Monterey to spend their honeymoon. After having her second child with Thalberg, Shearer considered retiring from films, but Thalberg was convinced he could continue to find good roles for her and encouraged her to continue acting. She went on to be one of MGM's biggest stars of the 1930s. Their two children were Irving Jr. (1930–1988) and Katherine (1935–2006).
    In 1927, after the successful release of the first full-length talking picture, The Jazz Singer (1927), he nevertheless felt that talking pictures were a fad.
    More Details Hide Details Thalberg likewise did not think that color would replace black-and-white in movies. When an assistant protested a script that envisioned a love scene in Paris with an ocean background, Thalberg refused to make changes, saying "We can't cater to a handful of people who know Paris." A more serious distraction to Thalberg's efforts was his obsession with making his wife Norma Shearer a prominent star. Flamini notes that these efforts led to sometimes "overblown and overglamous" productions, and speculates whether his focus on Shearer led to him dismissing a chance to produce Gone with the Wind. Thalberg himself admitted to his obsession years later to a fellow producer: "You're behaving like I did with Norma. I knew positively that she could play anything. It's a kind of romantic astigmatism that attacks producers when they fall for an actress." One of the first pictures he took charge of, Ben Hur, was inherited and already in production by another studio when MGM was formed. The film was turning into a disastrous expense with cost overruns already in the millions due to its lavish sets and location shooting in Rome. Most studio executives chose to terminate the film to cut their losses. Thalberg, however, felt differently, and thought the film would affect movie audiences, due to its classic literary source, and would highlight MGM as a major new studio.
  • 1925
    Age 25
    Greta Garbo In 1925, a young Greta Garbo, then twenty, and unable to speak any English, was brought over from Sweden at Mayer's request, as he saw how she looked in still photos.
    More Details Hide Details However, she remained in New York for over two months without any word from MGM. She then went to Los Angeles, but another five weeks passed with no contacts from the studio. She was on the verge of returning to Sweden, and wrote to her family back home: A Swedish friend thought he would help her by contacting Thalberg, who then agreed to give her a screen test. According to author Frederick Sands, "the result of the test was electrifying." Thalberg was impressed and began grooming the new starlet the following day: "the studio arranged to fix her teeth, made sure she lost weight, and gave her an English tutor." During her rise to stardom, Vieira notes that "Thalberg decreed that henceforth Garbo would play a young but worldly-wise woman... " However, according to Norma Shearer, Garbo did not necessarily agree with his ideas:
  • 1924
    Age 24
    From 1924 until 1936, when Thalberg died at age 37, "almost every film bore Thalberg's imprint," notes Mark Vieira.
    More Details Hide Details Thalberg's production techniques "broke new ground in filmmaking," adds Vieira. Among his contributions at MGM was his innovation of story conferences, sneak previews and scene retakes. He introduced the first horror films and coauthored the Production Code, the set of moral guidelines that all film studios agreed to follow. Thalberg helped synthesize and merge the world of stage drama and literary classics with Hollywood films. MGM thereby became the only movie studio to consistently show a profit during America's Great Depression. Flamini explains that the equation for MGM's success depended on combining stars, a Broadway hit or popular classic, and high standards of production. This combination at the time was considered a "revolutionary approach" in the film industry, which until then assumed a star was all that was needed for success, regardless of the story or production quality. The other studios began following MGM's lead with that same formula.
  • 1922
    Age 22
    In late 1922, Thalberg was introduced to Louis B. Mayer, president of a small, but dynamic and fast-growing studio.
    More Details Hide Details At that first meeting, Thalberg "made a deep, immediate impression on Mayer," writes Flamini. Later that evening, after Thalberg had left, Mayer said to studio attorney Edwin Loeb: "Tell him if he comes to work for me, I'll look after him as though he were my son." Although their personalities were in many ways opposite, Mayer being more outspoken and nearly twice the younger man's age, Thalberg was hired as vice president in charge of production at Louis B. Mayer Productions. Years later, Mayer's daughter, Irene Mayer Selznick, recalled that "it was hard to believe anyone that boyish could be so important." According to Flamini, Thalberg was hired because, although Mayer was an astute businessman, "what he lacked was Thalberg's almost unerring ability to combine quality with commercial success, to bring artistic aspiration in line with the demands of the box office." Mayer's company subsequently merged with two others to become Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), with the 24-year-old Thalberg made part-owner and accorded the same position as vice president in charge of production. Three years after the merger, MGM became the most successful studio in Hollywood.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1919
    Age 19
    In early 1919, Laemmle left for New York and asked Thalberg, then only 20 years of age, to oversee the nine ongoing film productions and nearly thirty scenarios then under development.
    More Details Hide Details In describing the rationale for this early appointment as studio manager, film historian David Thomson writes that his new job "owed nothing to nepotism, private wealth, or experience in the film industry." He reasons that despite "Thalberg's youth, modest education, and frail appearance... it is clear that he had the charm, insight, and ability, or the appearance of it, to captivate the film world." Thalberg was one among the majority of Hollywood film industry workers who migrated from the East Coast, primarily New York. Some film stars, such as Conrad Nagel, did not like the 5-day train trip or the sudden warmth of the California climate. Neither did Marion Davies, who didn't like the "big wide spaces." Sam Marx, a close friend of Thalberg's from New York, recalled how Thalberg adapted quickly to Southern California, and that he often stood outside his doorway during moments of contemplation and took in the scenery or sunsets. Comedian actor Buster Keaton remembers that "we were all young. The air in California was like wine. Our business was also young—and growing like nothing ever seen before."
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1899
    Born
    Born on May 30, 1899.
    More Details Hide Details
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