Stanley Donen
Film director and choreographer
Stanley Donen
Stanley Donen; is an American film director and choreographer whose most celebrated works are Singin' in the Rain and On the Town, both of which he co-directed with actor and dancer Gene Kelly. His other noteworthy films include Royal Wedding, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Funny Face, Indiscreet, Damn Yankees!, Charade, and Two for the Road. He received an Honorary Academy Award in 1998 for his body of work and a Career Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival in 2004.
Biography
Stanley Donen's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Stanley Donen from around the web
Sigmund Romberg biopic 'Deep in My Heart' is out on Blu-ray
LATimes - about 1 year
Stanley Donen ("Singin' in the Rain," "Funny Face") directed MGM's lavish 1954 biopic "Deep in My Heart" about composer Sigmund Romberg, which has just made its Blu-ray debut on Warner Archive. Oscar winner Jose Ferrer plays the composer of such operettas as "The Student Prince" and "The Desert...
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LATimes article
<i>Singin' in the Rain</i> at SF Symphony
Huffington Post - about 3 years
It's one thing for an orchestra to accompany a silent film. It is something else all together for an orchestra to accompany a sound film, let alone a musical. The level of expectation, as well as the technical and performance challenges faced by musicians accompanying a movie whose original score has been stripped from its soundtrack, are considerable to say the least. That's the challenge the San Francisco Symphony will face on December 6 and 7, when the world renown orchestra accompanies the classic musical, Singin' in the Rain. The 1952 film, one of most beloved movies of all time, is widely considered the greatest musical ever made. In fact, the film has appeared in numerous top ten lists of the greatest films in history -- all genres aside. In 1989, Singin' in the Rain was among the first 25 films chosen for the then newly established National Film Registry, honoring motion pictures deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress. ...
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Huffington Post article
The Sizzling Broadway <i>Betrayal</i> of Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz
Huffington Post - over 3 years
"There's nothing like the love of a good man!" said Julia Roberts over her shoulder to me after I'd commented on how young and beautiful the actress looks these days. This -- after she'd come all the way across the Barrymore Theater auditorium to give me a great hug before Mike Nichols' opening night of the celebrated Harold Pinter's "Betrayal." (Julia did indeed look spiffy in a sleek black dress and we had a brief chat about life, husband, children and everything except whatever she is doing next. She is a real star and one of my favorites.) • The VIP crowd included the de la Rentas, the Diller-von Furstenbergs, the Graydon Carters, Elaine May and Stanley Donen, Nick Pileggi, Candice and Marshall Rose, to name just a few. But in its own way, the night was understated. No red carpet, no mercy for the paparazzi -- everybody calm, cool and collected. Mr. Nichols I didn't see, but his bride, Diane Sawyer, was there cheering him on. • You probably already know how hard it will b ...
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Huffington Post article
Michael Giltz: DVDs: Woody, Spike and Wim Wenders Keep 'Em Coming
Huffington Post - about 4 years
The first DVD column of 2013 includes a number of releases by major directors who are easy to take for granted. But it's never easy to make a movie, much less one not geared toward the masses. Here's a rundown of new movies, documentaries, TV shows and classics getting a reissue, including one of my all-time favorite romantic dramas on BluRay. (Yes, John Wayne can act.) END OF WATCH ($34.98 BluRay combo; Universal) RED HOOK SUMMER ($29.97 BluRay; Image) TO ROME WITH LOVE ($35.99 BluRay; Sony) HANNAH AND HER SISTERS ($24.99 BluRay; MGM) SLEEPER ($24.99 BluRay; MGM) HARA-KIRI ($29.95 BluRay; NewVideo) 17 GIRLS ($27.99 DVD; Strand) BREATHING ($29.95 DVD; Kino Lorber) -- Jake Gyllenhaal has his best role in years in this violent cop drama that came and went without leaving much of an impression on anyone. It might just as easily have scored the Oscar glory of writer-director David Ayer's script for Training Day, but you're going to have to discover this ...
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Huffington Post article
DVD review: 'Singin' in the Rain'
San Francisco Chronicle - over 4 years
DVD review: 'Singin' in the Rain' Singin' in the Rain This beautifully restored 60th anniversary DVD/Blu-ray of the 1952 film is a wonderful parody of the birth of talkies that has great wit, an intelligent script, terrific music and dancing that can't be beat. The movie, directed by its star, Gene Kelly, and Stanley Donen, tells the story of Don Lockwood, a slightly full-of-himself silent movie heartthrob who must channel his career into talking pictures. Extras include an umbrella, a photo book, mini poster reproductions and a new documentary including talking heads from "Glee" and "High School Musical," plus Baz Luhrmann, Rob Marshall and Paula Abdul. ` - Leba Hertz
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San Francisco Chronicle article
Lochte to Trademark 'Jeah'
ABC News - over 4 years
Swimmer Ryan Lochte didn’t just win gold at the London Olympics, he won worldwide fame as well. And that fame is about to pay off because Lochte applied on Aug. 1 to trademark his now signature catchphrase, ‘Jeah,’ according to documents from the U.S. Patent...
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ABC News article
'Singin' In The Rain,' 'Lockout,' And More: This Week On Video
MTV News - over 4 years
Pick of the Week "Singin' in the Rain" (1952) Director: Stanley Donen Cast: Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds Story: Hollywood, 1927: the silent-film romantic team of Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) is the toast of Tinseltown. While Lockwood and Lamont personify smoldering passions onscreen, in real life the down-to-earth Lockwood can't stand the egotistical, brainless Lina. He prefers the company of aspiring actress Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), whom he met while escaping his screaming fans. On the Disc: The 60th anniversary edition comes with all the special features included on earlier releases, plus a new documentary on how the choreography of the film changed dance forever. Reviews: Rotten Tomatoes: 100% Metacritic: N/A Where to get it Amazon: Blu-ray - $13.86, Digital Download - $9.99, Digital Rental - $2.99 Apple: Digital Download - $9.99, Digital Rental - $2.99 (HD: $3.99) Netflix Instant: Not available "Lockout" (2012) Director ...
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MTV News article
John Farr: The Ten Best Audrey Hepburn Movies by Farr
The Huffington Post - USA - almost 5 years
Just last Friday, iconic star Audrey Hepburn would have turned 83. We never got to see her in old age: she's been gone nearly twenty years now, struck down prematurely by cancer. For me and millions of other fans, she will remain eternally young and fresh. At a time when I despair of younger viewers watching classic films, I hear more and more of them reference Audrey Hepburn. A full sixty years after she came out of nowhere to win an Academy Award for her first major role, she still represents something important and aspirational to the young women of today. What is the source of her enduring appeal? Well -- may I use the word "class"? In the Kardashian age, it's striking to revisit an actress who not only dressed beautifully, but walked, talked, and acted like the aristocrat she was- importantly, without ever seeming snobbish, affected or full of herself. To employ another term one rarely hears anymore, she had impeccable poise. Humor, humility, eve ...
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The Huffington Post - USA article
Movie Icon of the Month: A Tribute to Stanley Donen
Film School Rejects - almost 5 years
From On the Town to Royal Wedding to Singin’ in the Rain, Stanley Donen revolutionized movie musicals by making them truly cinematic. Instead of being anchored to the theater stage, he tossed those anchors away and set his ambitious sights on filming a musical in the largest city in the country (impossible!), using camera work to aid the story (crazy!) and challenging old ideas. That, and the fact that he just turned 88 this month, make him our Movie Icon of April. Let’s celebrate his work together. Download Episode #131 On This Week’s Show: Ready For Love [Beginning - 15:00]: A tribute to the great Stanley Donen featuring clips from his work and from interviews. Please go rate us on iTunes. It means a lot to us. On Last Week’s Show: Darren Bousman Battles Depression with a Carnival On Next Week’s Show: All you need to know about The Avengers. Kaboom. Get In Touch With Us: Call Reject Radio: (512) 212-1301 Email Reject Radio: radio@filmschoolrejects.com ...
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Film School Rejects article
TCM Classic Film Fest: Stanley Donen on Hepburn, censors and more
LATimes - almost 5 years
When director/producer Stanley Donen took home an honorary Oscar in 1998, “in appreciation of a body of work marked by grace, elegance, wit and visual innovation,” he turned on the charm at the Academy Awards, hoofing it up and singing “Cheek to Cheek.” A former Broadway chorus dancer, he made his mark on Hollywood co-directing and choreographing musical classics with Gene Kelly — 1949’s “On the Town,” 1952’s “Singin’ in the Rain,” and 1955’s “It’s Always Fair Weather.” Beginning with 1951’s “Royal Wedding” — best known as the film in which Fred Astaire dances on the ceiling — Donen also had great success as a solo director. He went on to helm 1954’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” with Jane Powell and Howard Keel; in 1957 he came out with both “Funny Face” with Astaire and Audrey Hepburn and “The Pajama Game,” starring Doris Day. In 1958 came the romantic comedy “Indiscreet,” with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, and later the 1963 romantic thriller “Charade” (with Hepburn and Gran ...
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LATimes article
Penelope Andrew: TCM Fest 2012:Liza Minnelli, Kim Novak, Robert Wagner, Debbie Reynolds Walk Red Carpet
Popeater - almost 5 years
The Fountainhead with Patricia Neal and Gary Cooper Photo: Courtesy of TCM Liza Minnelli, Kim Novak, Robert Wagner, Tippi Hedren and Debbie Reynolds in person. Black Narcissus, Vertigo, Cabaret, and The Fountainhead projected on gigantic screens at Grauman's Chinese and Egyptian Theatres. Could any classic film fan wish for more? You could. And, at this year's annual TCM Classic Film Festival, which takes place from April 12th through the 15th, you'd get more: Kirk Douglas, Stanley Donen, Angie Dickenson, Norman Lloyd, Rhonda Fleming, and Norman Jewison appearing at special events and screenings of Two for the Road, Chinatown, Casablanca, The Longest Day, and The Thomas Crown Affair. But before going on about this year's festival, a look back is essential. Chinatown's Faye Dunaway and Jack Nicholson Photo: Courtesy of TCM TCM 2010 &amp; 2011 TCM's 2010 festival featured an opening night restoration of George Cukor's A Star Is Born (1954) starring Judy Garland ...
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Popeater article
DVD review: ‘Charade’ Universal 100th Anniversary Edition
NewsOK.com Blogs - almost 5 years
Some call it “the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made.” Certainly, “Charade” has almost all the elements the Master of Suspense ever incorporated in his films, including mystery, romance, baffling plot twists, characters who aren’t who they seem to be, action, sudden jolts, gallows humor and, of course, suspense, all set against an exotic locale. The 1963 thriller even has animated opening credits that strongly resemble the titles Saul Bass designed for “Psycho,” and a musical score that underlines the moments of tension and deadly peril with pulse-quickening effectiveness. And, hey, there’s even Cary Grant, veteran of four of Hitchcock’s best, in the lead role. But that’s Maurice Binder’s (the early James Bond films) handiwork on the credits, and instead of Bernard Herrmann supplying the musical moodiness, we have the jazzier, more rhythmic and (at the time) more contemporary touches of Henry Mancini on the soundtrack. And that’s Stanley Donen in the director’s chair, ...
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NewsOK.com Blogs article
The ten films that changed the world - Telegraph.co.uk (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
I&#39;ve swapped jokes with Stanley Donen, who made Singin&#39; in the Rain, and went to a tiny village in West Bengal in India, where one of the greatest Indian films, Pather Panchali, was made. I&#39;ve climbed to the Hollywood sign at dusk, wearing my kilt,
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Google News article
Telluride 2011: Lineup Includes Descendants, Albert Nobbs, Dangerous Method ... - Indie Wire (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Mark Cousins&#39; doc The Story of Film: An Odyssey includes interviews with Wim Wenders, Stanley Donen, Robert Towne, Claire Denis and Amitabh Bachchan. This year&#39;s guest director, composer/musician Caetano Veloso, has chosen a program of films including
Article Link:
Google News article
Film Series in Washington Square Park to Feature New York Musicals - New York Times (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
8 with a screening of the Gene Kelly/Stanley Donen classic “On the Town.” The film follows the adventures of three sailors on a 24-hour pass through the sights and sounds of the city and generously utilizes city landmarks. On Sept
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Google News article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Stanley Donen
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2014
    Age 89
    In celebration of Donen's 90th birthday in 2014, a retrospective of his work titled "A Lotta Talent and a Little Luck: A Celebration of Stanley Donen" was held from July to August in Columbia, South Carolina.
    More Details Hide Details This retrospective included a tour of Donen's childhood neighborhood, a lecture by Steven Silverman and film screenings at the Nickelodeon movie theater, which Donen frequented as a child. Notes Bibliography
  • 2013
    Age 88
    In December 2013 it was announced that Donen was in pre-production for a new film co-written with Elaine May, to be produced by Mike Nichols.
    More Details Hide Details A table reading of the script for potential investors included such actors as Christopher Walken, Charles Grodin, Ron Rifkin and Jeannie Berlin.
  • 2010
    Age 85
    He was the subject of the 2010 documentary Stanley Donen: You Just Do It.
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  • 1992
    Age 67
    In 1992 Donen said "I'm grateful to him, but I paid back the debt, ten times over.
    More Details Hide Details And he got his money's worth out of me." Betsy Blair claimed to be "surprised and bemused" about Donen's bitterness towards Kelly. The relative importance of the two men's contributions has been debated by critics. David Thomson wrote about "the problem in assessing Donen's career: who did what in their collaboration?
  • 1991
    Age 66
    In later years Donen would state that he had nothing nice to say about Kelly. At a 1991 tribute to Comden and Green, Kelly said in a public speech that Donen "needed him to grow up with" but added "I needed Stanley at the back of the camera."
    More Details Hide Details He also described Donen as being thought of as his whipping-boy at MGM. Although Donen often complained that Kelly never gave him enough credit for their work, Kelly did credit him for the Jerry the Mouse and "Alter Ego" dance sequences.
  • 1989
    Age 64
    His mother, Helen, died in 1989 at 84 in South Carolina, and Donen delivered the eulogy at her funeral.
    More Details Hide Details With the deaths in the 2000s of Billy Wilder, George Sidney, Elia Kazan, Robert Wise, and Jules Dassin, Donen became the last surviving notable film director of Hollywood's Golden Age. He occasionally appears at film festivals and retrospectives and has continued to develop ideas for film projects.
    Singin' in the Rain is Donen's most revered film and it was included in the first group of films to be inducted into the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress in 1989 and has been included on Sight and Sound's prestigious list of "Top Ten Films" twice, in 1982 and in 2002.
    More Details Hide Details Chaplin and Truffaut were among its earliest fans, and Billy Wilder called the film "one of the five greatest pictures ever made." Donen made a host of critically acclaimed and popular films. His most important contribution to the art of film was helping to transition movie musicals from the realistic backstage settings of filmed theater to a more cinematic form that integrates film with dance. Eventually film scholars named this concept "cine-dance" (a dance that can only be created in the medium of film), and its origins are in the Donen/Kelly films. Film scholar Casey Charness described "cine-dance" as "a melding of the distinctive strengths of dancing and filmmaking that had never been done before" and adds that Donen and Kelly "seem to have elevated Hollywood dance from simplistic display of either dancing or photographic ability into a perception that incorporates both what the dancer can do and what the camera can see... They developed a balance between camera and dancer that... encouraged both photographer and choreographer to contribute significantly to the creation and final effectiveness of dance."
    In 1989 Donen was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the University of South Carolina.
    More Details Hide Details In his commencement address Donen stated that he thought he was unique in being the first tap dancer to be a doctor and then tap danced for the graduates. At around the same time Donen taught a seminar on film musicals at the Sundance Institute at the request of Robert Redford. In 1993 Donen was preparing to produce and direct a movie musical adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde starring Michael Jackson. After allegations that Jackson had molested young boys at his Neverland ranch became a tabloid scandal, the project was abandoned. Later that year Donen directed a stage version of The Red Shoes at the George Gershwin Theater. He replaced the original director Susan Schulman just six weeks before the show opened. It closed after four days. In 1998 Donen was awarded an Honorary Academy Award "in appreciation of a body of work marked by grace, elegance, wit and visual innovation." In his acceptance speech he danced with his Oscar statue while singing Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek", a song first popularized by his boyhood idol Fred Astaire. Martin Scorsese presented the award and created a montage of Donen's films for the show.
  • 1986
    Age 61
    Also in 1986 Donen directed a musical sequence for an episode of the popular TV series Moonlighting and directed the music video for Lionel Richie's song "Dancing on the Ceiling".
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    In 1986 Donen produced the televised ceremony of the 58th Academy Awards, which included a musical performance of the song "Once a Star, Always a Star" with June Allyson, Leslie Caron, Marge Champion, Cyd Charisse, Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Ann Miller, Jane Powell, Debbie Reynolds, and Esther Williams.
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  • FIFTIES
  • 1984
    Age 59
    Donen's last theatrical film was the May – December romance Blame It on Rio in 1984.
    More Details Hide Details The film is a remake of the 1977 Claude Berri film Un moment d'égarement and was written by Gelbart and Charlie Peters. It stars Michael Caine, Joseph Bologna, Michelle Johnson, Valerie Harper and Demi Moore and was shot on location in Rio de Janeiro. Caine and Bologna play wealthy executives on vacation with their families in Rio, where Caine has an affair with Bologna's teenage daughter (Johnson). It received poor reviews, but was a modest success financially.
  • 1980
    Age 55
    In 1980 Donen made the science fiction film Saturn 3, starring Kirk Douglas, Farrah Fawcett and Harvey Keitel.
    More Details Hide Details Donen first read the script when its writer (and Movie Movies set designer) John Barry showed it to him, prompting Donen to pass it along to Lew Grade. Donen was initially hired to produce, but Grade asked him to complete the film when first-time director Barry was unable to direct. According to Donen "only a tiny bit of what Barry shot ended up in the finished film." It was a critical and financial disaster and initially Donen did not want to be credited as director. In the early 1980s Donen was attached to direct an adaptation of Stephen King's The Dead Zone and worked with writer Jeffrey Boam on the script. Donen eventually dropped out of the project and David Cronenberg directed the film a few years later. Boam stated that Donen was initially attracted to making the film because he wanted to "connect with contemporary youthful audiences" and that the script that they worked on together was "very close to the script that David wound up making."
  • FORTIES
  • 1970
    Age 45
    After Donen's marriage to Adelle Beatty ended, he moved back to Hollywood in 1970.
    More Details Hide Details Producer Robert Evans asked Donen to direct an adaptation of the beloved children's book The Little Prince. Lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe wrote the music and screenplay and filming was done on location in Tunisia. The Little Prince stars Steven Warner in the title role, with Richard Kiley, Bob Fosse, Gene Wilder and Donna McKechnie. It was Donen's first musical film since Damn Yankees! Although it contained very little dancing, Fosse choreographed his own dance scenes as the snake. Lerner stated that Donen "took it upon himself to change every tempo, delete musical phrases at will and distort the intention of every song until the entire score was unrecognizable". It was released in 1974 and was a financial disaster. Donen's next film was Lucky Lady, starring Liza Minnelli, Gene Hackman and Burt Reynolds. Minnelli plays a Prohibition era bootlegger who smuggles alcohol from Mexico to California with the help of Hackman and Reynolds, who both compete for her affection. Donen has stated that he "really cared about film and gave three years of my life to it... I think it's a very good movie." It went over budget and was unsuccessful at the box office. Most critics were unenthusiastic; however, Jay Cocks praised the film for having "the glistening surface and full-throttle frivolity that characterized Hollywood films in the 1930s."
  • 1969
    Age 44
    Kelly's 1969 film Hello Dolly! is credited with effectively killing the Hollywood musical. Donen married and divorced five times and had three children. His first wife was dancer, choreographer and actress Jeanne Coyne. They married on April 14, 1948 and divorced in May 1951.
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    In 1969 Donen directed Staircase, an adaptation of the autobiographical stage play by Charles Dyer with music by Moore.
    More Details Hide Details Rex Harrison and Richard Burton star as a middle-aged gay couple who run a London barber shop and live together in a "bad marriage". The film was shot in Paris for tax purposes and was not a financial success. It received poor reviews upon release, but was reevaluated by film critic Armond White in 2007. He called the film "a rare Hollywood movie to depict gay experience with wisdom, humor and warmth", and "a lost treasure".
  • 1967
    Age 42
    While living in England Donen became a fan of the British variety show Beyond the Fringe and wanted to work with the show's comedy duo Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. The resulting film was Bedazzled, an updated version of the Faust legend in 1967.
    More Details Hide Details It was written by Cook with music by Moore, and also starred Eleanor Bron and Raquel Welch. Moore plays a lonely young man whose unrequited love of his co-worker (Bron) drives him to attempt suicide. Just then the devil (Cook) appears and offers him seven wishes in exchange for his soul. The film's fun-loving association with the Swinging London of the 1960s divided critics, but Roger Ebert called its satire "barbed and contemporary... dry and understated", and overall, a "magnificently photographed, intelligent, very funny film." On the other hand, Time magazine called it the feeblest of all known variations on the Faust theme. The film was a hit and was especially popular among American college students. Donen considered it a favorite among his own films and called it "a very personal film in that I said a great deal about what I think is important in life." It was remade as Bedazzled by director Harold Ramis in 2000.
    In 1967 Donen made Two for the Road, starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney with supporting roles by Eleanor Bron, William Daniels, and Jacqueline Bisset early in her career.
    More Details Hide Details The film was conceived by Donen and written by novelist Frederic Raphael, who was nominated for an Academy Award. It has been called one of Donen's most personal films, "with glints of passion never disclosed before", and "a veritable textbook on film editing." The film's complicated and non-linear story is about the 12-year relationship between Hepburn and Finney over the course of four separate (but interwoven) road trips that they take together throughout the years in the south of France. It was moderately successful at the box office while the critical reception was extremely mixed. Crowther called the film "just another version of commercial American trash." The film attained a cult following and was cited as an early example of non-linear storytelling in film. It is also the film that Donen is most frequently asked about by film students.
  • 1966
    Age 41
    In 1966 Donen made another Hitchcock-inspired film: Arabesque, starring Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren.
    More Details Hide Details The film was written by Julian Mitchell and Stanley Price, with an uncredited rewrite by Peter Stone. Peck plays an American professor at Oxford University who is an expert in ancient hieroglyphics. He is approached by a Middle Eastern prime minister to investigate an organization that is attempting to assassinate him and uses hieroglyphic codes to communicate. The investigation leads Peck to one mystery after another, often involving the prime minister's mysterious mistress (Loren). The film was Donen's second consecutive hit.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1963
    Age 38
    The film was released in December 1963, only two weeks after the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, and the word "assassinate" had to be redubbed twice.
    More Details Hide Details It was Donen's most financially successful film and influenced a number of romantic comedy-thrillers released in the years following it. Film critic Judith Crist called it a "stylish and amusing melodrama", and Pauline Kael said it had "a freshness and spirit that makes it unlike the films of any other country" and was "probably the best American film of 1963". In 2002 it was remade as The Truth About Charlie, directed by Jonathan Demme.
    In 1963 Donen made one of his most praised films: Charade, starring Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy and Ned Glass.
    More Details Hide Details Donen has said that he had "always wanted to make a movie like one of my favorites, Hitchcock's North by Northwest" and the film has been referred to as "the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made." Charade was produced by Stanley Donen Productions, released through Universal and adapted by Peter Stone from his own novel. Reggie Lampert (Hepburn) discovers that her husband has been murdered and (at least) three sinister men are all searching for the $250,000 in gold that he had hidden somewhere. Peter Joshua (Grant) befriends Reggie and helps her fight off the three thugs while the two begin to fall in love, and in the end no one is quite who they seem to be.
  • 1960
    Age 35
    They married in 1960, had one son (Mark Donen, born 1962), and lived together in London. They separated in 1969 before divorcing in 1971. Donen's fourth wife was American actress Yvette Mimieux. They were married from 1972 until 1985, but remained close friends after their divorce. Donen's fifth wife was Pamela Braden, thirty-six years his junior. Donen proposed to her four days after having met her. They were married from 1990 until 1994.
    More Details Hide Details In the early 1940s Donen dated actress Judy Holliday while working on Broadway. He also dated Elizabeth Taylor for a year between his first and second marriages. Donen's current longtime companion is writer and director Elaine May, who he has dated since 1999 and claimed to have proposed marriage to "about 172 times." Donen's eldest son Peter Donen was a visual effects artist who worked on such films as Superman III, Spaceballs, The Bourne Identity, and The Truth About Charlie. He also designed the title credits for Blame It on Rio. He died of a heart attack in 2003 at age 50. Donen's second son Joshua Donen is a film producer who worked on such films as The Quick and the Dead and Gone Girl, and the television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Mark Donen, Stanley's third son, worked as a production assistant on Blame It on Rio.
    Grandon Productions produced Donen's next film: The Grass Is Greener, released through Universal Pictures in 1960.
    More Details Hide Details Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr play the earl and countess of a large estate in England who are forced to permit guided tours of their mansion in order to help their financial problems. Robert Mitchum plays an American oil tycoon who falls in love with Kerr and Jean Simmons plays an eccentric American heiress who is Grant's former girlfriend. The film was a financial disappointment in the US, but successful in England where the original stage version had been a West End hit.
    Donen quickly re-teamed with Brynner and Kurnitz for the film Surprise Package, also released in 1960.
    More Details Hide Details In this film Brynner plays an American gangster who is deported to the Greek island of Rhodes. Mitzi Gaynor plays the "surprise package" who is sent to the island to appease Brynner, and Noël Coward plays the King of Rhodes whom Brynner plots to dethrone. The film was not a financial success, and Donen stated that it was made because he "desperately needed money for personal reasons... it was one of the few times I've made a movie for money." These were the only two films that Donen completed for his Columbia contract. The studio cancelled the deal after their poor box office results, and Donen was unable to produce the projects that he was pursuing at that time: playwright Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons and A Patch of Blue, both of which became successful films by other directors.
    His first film under this contract was Once More, with Feeling! in 1960.
    More Details Hide Details Adapted by Harry Kurnitz from his own stage play, the film was shot in Paris and starred Yul Brynner and Kay Kendall. Brynner plays a tyrannical orchestra conductor whose mistress (Kendall) grows tired of his tantrums and plots to marry him in order to quickly divorce him for his money. Kendall was terminally ill with leukemia during the shoot and died before its release. The film was not successful financially or critically.
  • 1959
    Age 34
    In 1959, Donen's father, Mordecai, died at 59 in Beaufort, South Carolina.
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  • 1958
    Age 33
    Donen briefly returned to the musical genre in 1958 with Damn Yankees!, based on George Abbott's Broadway hit.
    More Details Hide Details He again co-directed with Abbott in the same hands-off collaboration as their first film. Like The Pajama Game the film includes music by Adler and Ross and choreography by Fosse. It starred Tab Hunter, Gwen Verdon, and Ray Walston. Damn Yankees! is an adaptation of the Faust legend about a fan of the baseball team the Washington Senators who mentions that he would sell his soul to give the losing team a good hitter. Walston plays the Brooks Brothers-attired Devil who grants the fan his wish and transforms him into the muscular young hitter Joe Hardy (Hunter). Donen was able to shoot three real Senator-Yankee games on location with as many as seven hidden cameras. The low-budget film was a moderate financial success and received good reviews. It was also Donen's last musical film for many years. After Indiscreet Donen made England his home until the early 1970s. Musicals' waning popularity caused Donen to focus on comedy films. He observed that his "London base afforded me the advantage of being away from the Hollywood rat race. Just going your own way in spite of whatever anyone else is doing or in spite of what you've done already was satisfying. I also had the advantage of the European influence: their way of looking at life, of making movies." While in England in the early 1960s Donen was praised as an early influence on the then-emerging British New Wave film movement.
    Donen and Grant inaugurated their company in 1958 with Indiscreet, based on a play by Norman Krasna and starring Grant and Ingrid Bergman.
    More Details Hide Details Because of Bergman's schedule, the film was shot on location in London where, much like he had in his directorial debut, Donen utilized such landmarks as the Leicester Galleries, the Royal Opera House and the Garrick Club. Bergman plays a famous and reclusive actress who falls in love with the playboy-diplomat Grant, who tells her that he is already married and that his wife refuses to divorce him. When Bergman discovers that he has been lying about having a wife, she concocts a charade with another man in order to win Grant's full affection. The film's most famous scene involves Donen's clever circumvention of the strict Production Code. In the scene, Grant is in Paris while Bergman is still in London and the two exchange pillow talk over the phone. Donen used a split screen of the two stars with synchronized movements to make it appear as though they were in the same bed together. The film was a financial and critical success, and Donen was compared to such directors as Ernst Lubitsch and George Cukor.
  • 1957
    Age 32
    Kelly's marriage to Blair ended in 1957, after which he moved in with Coyne. They married in 1960 and had two children together.
    More Details Hide Details Coyne died of leukemia in 1973. In November 2012 the musical What A Glorious Feeling depicted both the making of Singin' in the Rain and the love triangle between Donen, Kelly and Coyne. Donen and Kelly's relationship has been described as similar to that of the characters Don Lockwood and Cosmo Brown in Singin' in the Rain, with Kelly as the star performer and Donen as his trusted sidekick. Kelly described Donen as being like a son to him and Donen initially idolized Kelly, while still finding him to be "cold, egotistical and very rough." Although Donen credited Kelly for "jump-starting his career as a filmmaker", he also stated that MGM producer Roger Edens was his biggest promoter. Many people believe that Donen owed everything to Kelly, and Kelly biographer Clive Hirschhorn described Donen as having "no particular identity or evident talent... and was just a kid from the south who wanted to make it in show business." Donen stated that he moved to Hollywood of his own accord; other sources state that he followed Kelly, who then helped him get his first job. Kelly would sometimes embarrass and patronize Donen in public, such as berating him for not being able to keep up with his dance steps during the rehearsals for Cover Girl. Donen has admitted that he did not consider himself to be a great performer. Despite Donen's growing resentment of Kelly, he was able to contain his feelings and professional attitude during their collaborations.
    After three films in 1957 Donen became an independent producer and director.
    More Details Hide Details He had reluctantly agreed to direct Kiss Them for Me on condition that 20th Century Fox buy out his remaining contract with MGM. Now free from contractual obligations, he formed Grandon Productions with Grant and signed a distribution deal through Warner Brothers. Donen would self-produce nearly all of his films for the rest of his career, sometimes under the name "Stanley Donen Productions".
    While in pre-production on Funny Face, Donen received a letter from his old boss George Abbott inviting him to make a film version of his stage hit The Pajama Game at Warner Brothers. As part of the deal to secure the Warner-owned Gershwin music he wanted for Funny Face, Donen accepted the offer and he and Abbott co-directed the film version in 1957.
    More Details Hide Details The Pajama Game stars Doris Day and John Raitt, with music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross and choreography by Bob Fosse. Raitt plays a plant supervisor at a nightwear factory who is in constant disputes with the plant's union organizer (Day), until they end up falling in love. Donen described his working relationship with Abbott as relaxed, stating that "would play tennis, come watch on the set for an hour, then watch the rushes, then go home." It was only a modest financial success, but Jean-Luc Godard praised it in a review and declared "Donen is surely the master of the movie musical. The Pajama Game exists to prove it."
  • 1955
    Age 30
    His last project for MGM was completing the final four days of shooting on Kismet in July 1955 for director Vincent Minnelli, who had other commitments.
    More Details Hide Details Donen's next film was at Paramount Pictures for producer Roger Edens. Funny Face contains four of the original George and Ira Gershwin songs from the otherwise unrelated 1927 Broadway musical of the same name that had starred Fred Astaire. Loosely based on the life of fashion photographer Richard Avedon, who was also the visual consultant and designed the opening title sequence for the film, it was written by Leonard Gershe and included additional music by Gershe and Edens. Donen and Edens began pre-production at MGM, but had difficulty juggling Astaire and Audrey Hepburn's Paramount contracts, the Warner Brothers – owned rights to the Gershwin music that they wanted and their own MGM contracts. Eventually a deal was reached that both released Donen from his MGM contract and allowed him to make his next two films at Paramount and Warner Brothers respectively. Astaire plays an aging fashion photographer who discovers the intellectual bohemian Hepburn at a used bookstore in Greenwich Village and turns her into his new model while falling in love with her in Paris. Donen, Avedon and cinematographer Ray June collaborated to give the film an abstract, smokey look that resembled the fashion photography of the period despite protests by Paramount, which had recently spent a fortune developing the crisp VistaVision. Funny Face was screened in competition at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival and received good reviews from critics like Crowther. Sight and Sound, in contrast, accused it of being anti-intellectual.
    In 1955 Donen teamed up with Kelly for their third and final directorial collaboration.
    More Details Hide Details The musical It's Always Fair Weather was produced by Freed, written by Comden and Green and had music by André Previn. It starred Kelly, Dan Dailey, Cyd Charisse, Michael Kidd, and Dolores Gray. Originally envisioned as a sequel to On the Town, Kelly, Dailey and Kidd play three ex-GIs who reunite 10 years after World War II and discover that none of their lives have turned out quite how they had expected. Kelly had approached Donen with this project as their next collaboration and at first Donen was reluctant to accept due to his own success. Their friendship deteriorated during production and Donen noted, "the atmosphere from day one was very tense and nobody was speaking to anybody." He has been quoted as saying it was a "one hundred percent nightmare" which was a "struggle from beginning to end" and MGM did not allow the co-directors to shoot on location in New York. It's Always Fair Weather was a moderately profitable film, but not as successful as the pairs previous two films. It was Donen's last film with Kelly or Freed. After the film's completion he fulfilled his MGM contract agreement by working with other studios.
    Donen's relationship with Kelly deteriorated in 1955 during their final collaboration on It's Always Fair Weather.
    More Details Hide Details He then broke his contract with MGM to become an independent producer in 1957. As musicals began to lose public appeal, Donen switched to comedies. He continued to make hit films until the late 1960s, after which his career slowed down. He briefly returned to the stage as a director in the 1990s and again in 2002. Donen is credited with transitioning Hollywood musical films from realistic backstage dramas to a more integrated art form in which the songs were a natural continuation of the story. Before Donen and Kelly made their films, musicals (such as the extravagant and stylized work of Busby Berkeley) were often set in a Broadway stage environment where the musical numbers were part of a stage show. Donen and Kelly's films created a more cinematic form and included dances that could only be achieved in the film medium. Donen stated that what he was doing was a "direct continuation from the Astaire – Rogers musicals... which in turn came from René Clair and from Lubitsch... What we did was not geared towards realism but towards the unreal." Film critic Jean-Pierre Coursodon has said that Donen's contribution to the evolution of the Hollywood musical "outshines anybody else's, including Vincent Minnelli's." He is the last surviving notable director of Hollywood's Golden Age.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1954
    Age 29
    Later in 1954 Donen made Deep in My Heart, a biography of the Hungarian-born American operetta composer Sigmund Romberg starring José Ferrer.
    More Details Hide Details The film included cameos by many MGM contract actors, including the only screen pairing of Gene Kelly and his brother Fred. Although it received mediocre reviews, Romberg's cult status and popularity helped make the film a hit financially.
  • 1953
    Age 28
    In 1953 Donen made the musical Give a Girl a Break.
    More Details Hide Details The film stars Debbie Reynolds, Marge Champion and Helen Wood as three aspiring dancers competing for the lead in a new Broadway musical. Bob Fosse, Gower Champion and Kurt Kasznar also appear, with music by Lane and Ira Gershwin. The most famous scene is the "Give a Girl a Break" dance between Reynolds and Fosse, which was choreographed backwards and then played in reverse to create the illusion that the two are surrounded by hundreds of balloons that instantly appear at the touch of their fingers. Shooting the film became a bitter experience for Donen due to a major on-set fight over the film's choreography between Fosse and Gower Champion. The fight split the cast and crew with Reynolds and Marge taking Gower's side and Donen taking Fosse's side. The film was not well reviewed upon release, but its reputation has grown over the years.
  • 1952
    Age 27
    Donen and Marshall were married from 1952 until 1959.
    More Details Hide Details They had a lengthy custody battle over their two sons after Marshall married Wagner and Donen moved to England. Donen's third wife was Adelle, Countess Beatty. She had previously been the second wife of the 2nd Earl Beatty.
    Now established as a successful film director, Donen continued his solo career at MGM with Fearless Fagan in 1952.
    More Details Hide Details Based on a true story, the film stars Carleton Carpenter as a GI who brings his tame lion with him when he joins the army.
    Kelly's An American in Paris had been a surprise Best Picture winner at the Oscars in March 1952, and MGM decided to re-release it.
    More Details Hide Details Singin' in the Rain got pulled from many theaters to showcase the older film, preventing it from making further profits. Singin' in the Rain was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actress for Hagen and Best Original Score. Donald O'Connor won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy and Comden and Green once again won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical. Initially the film received only moderate reviews from critics such as Bosley Crowther and did not begin to receive widespread acclaim until the late 1960s. One of its earliest supporters was critic Pauline Kael, who said that it "is perhaps the most enjoyable of all movie musicals – just about the best Hollywood musical of all time." It was re-released in 1975 to critical and popular success.
    In 1952 Kelly was at the height of his fame after the release of An American in Paris.
    More Details Hide Details He then re-teamed with Donen to make Singin' in the Rain, which would become one of the most highly praised films of all time. The film was produced by Freed, written by Comden and Green, photographed by Harold Rosson and starred Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor and Jean Hagen. Freed wanted to make a musical using old songs that he and composer Nacio Herb Brown had written in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He hired Comden and Green to write a script, with Donen and Kelly involved from the early development stages. Comden and Green decided to write a story inspired by the time period in which the songs were written, and satirized Hollywood's transition from silent films to "talkies" in the late 1920s. Comden, Green and Donen interviewed everyone at MGM who was in Hollywood during that period, poking fun at both the first movie musicals and the technical difficulties with early sound films. This included characters loosely based on Freed and Berkeley and a scene that references silent film star John Gilbert. Donen and Kelly also made use of MGM's large collection of sets, props, costumes and outdated equipment from the 1920s.
  • 1951
    Age 26
    Later in 1951 Donen made Love Is Better Than Ever.
    More Details Hide Details The film stars Larry Parks, whose Oscar–nominated performance in The Jolson Story had made him a star five years earlier. Parks plays a streetwise show business agent who finds himself compelled to marry an innocent young dance teacher played by Elizabeth Taylor. Donen and Kelly appear in cameo roles. The film remained unreleased for over a year after Parks admitted to the House Un-American Activities Committee that he had been a member of the Communist Party and named other members. The film was unsuccessful at the box office.
  • 1949
    Age 24
    After the success of Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Freed gave Donen and Kelly the chance to direct On the Town, released in 1949.
    More Details Hide Details The film was an adaptation of the Betty Comden and Adolph Green Broadway musical about sailors on leave in New York City and was the first musical to be filmed on location. Donen and Kelly had wanted to shoot the entire film in New York, but Freed would only allow them to spend one week away from the studio. That week produced the film's famous opening number New York, New York. Away from both studio interference and sound stage constrictions, Donen and cinematographer Harold Rosson shot a scene on the streets of New York City that pioneered many cinematic techniques that would not be used again until they were popularized by the French New Wave ten years later. These techniques included spatial jump cuts, 360-degree pans, hidden cameras, abrupt changes of screen direction and non-professional actors. Donen's biographer Joseph A. Casper stated that the scene avoids being gratuitous or amateurish, while still "developing plot, describing the setting while conveying its galvanizing atmosphere and manic mood, introducing and delineating character." Casper also said that "Today the film is regarded as a turning point: the first bona fide musical that moved dance, as well as the musical genre, out of the theater and captured it with and for film rather than on film; the first to make the city an important character; and the first to abandon the chorus."
  • 1948
    Age 23
    She and Donen eloped in 1948, but their marriage became strained. They separated in 1950 and divorced in 1951.
    More Details Hide Details During their marriage Donen confided to Coyne his frustration with Kelly while making On the Town, only to find that she immediately took Kelly's side. Coyne worked as Kelly's personal assistant on several films while married to Donen and continued assisting Kelly until her death. Rumors held that Kelly and Coyne were having an affair both during and after Coyne's marriage to Donen, as well as that Donen was in love with Kelly's first wife Betsy Blair. Blair's autobiography makes no mention of an affair between Kelly and Coyne nor of any romantic relationship with Donen. However, she does state that Donen's marriage to Coyne was unhappy and that Donen was very close to both her and Kelly. Kelly said that Donen's impulsive marriage to Coyne showed an emotional immaturity and lack of good judgment, and stated that "Jeannie's marriage to Stanley was doomed from the start. Because every time Stanley looked at Jeannie, he saw Betsy, whom he loved; and every time Jeannie looked at Stanley, I guess she saw me. One way or another it was all pretty incestuous."
  • 1947
    Age 22
    Royal Wedding starred Astaire and Jane Powell as a brother-sister American dancing team performing in England during the occasion of the royal wedding of Elizabeth and Philip in 1947.
    More Details Hide Details Judy Garland was originally cast in the lead role, but was fired for absenteeism due to illness and June Allyson was to replace Garland, but then Allyson found out she was pregnant, so she was replaced by Powell. In the film, Powell's love affair with a wealthy Englishman (Peter Lawford) threatens to ruin the brother-sister act, while Astaire finds his own romance with (Sarah Churchill). The film is loosely based on Astaire's real-life career with his sister and early dancing partner Adele Astaire, who retired after marrying an English lord in 1932. The film contains one of Astaire's most famous dance sequences: the "You're All the World to Me" number in which Astaire defies gravity by dancing first on the walls and then on the ceiling. The shot was achieved by building the set inside a rotating reinforced-steel cylindrical chamber with the camera attached to the cylinder. Both Astaire and the film's lyricist Alan Jay Lerner claimed that they thought of the idea. The film included music by Lerner and Burton Lane and was released in 1951.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1944
    Age 19
    Donen's next film was Kiss Them for Me. He was personally asked by Cary Grant to direct and began developing it while still under contract at MGM. With a plot that strongly resembles On the Town, the film features Grant, Ray Walston and Larry Blyden as three navy officers on leave in San Francisco in 1944.
    More Details Hide Details Unlike On the Town, Kiss Them for Me is a dark comedy that contrasts the officers' selfless heroism with their self-absorbed hedonism while on leave. The film was released in 1957 to mostly poor reviews.
    While Kelly completed his service in the U.S. Naval Air Service as a photographer from 1944 to 1946, Donen worked uncredited as a choreographer on musical films.
    More Details Hide Details Of this period Donen said, "I practiced my craft, working with music, track and photography. I often directed the sequences. I always tried to have an original idea about how to do musical sequences." Donen has stated that he was excused from military service as 4-F because of high blood pressure. When Kelly returned to civilian life, he and Donen directed and choreographed Kelly's dance scenes in Living in a Big Way. They then began work on an original story about two baseball players in the early 20th century who spend their off-season as vaudevillian song and dance men. This film would eventually become Take Me Out to the Ball Game in 1949. Kelly and Donen had hoped to co-direct the film, but Freed hired Busby Berkeley instead and they only directed Kelly's dance numbers. The film starred Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin.
    In 1944 Donen and Kelly choreographed the musical Anchors Aweigh, released by MGM in 1945 and starring Kelly and Frank Sinatra.
    More Details Hide Details The most famous scene in this film is when Kelly dances with the cartoon mouse Jerry. The animation was supervised by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera and is credited to cartoonist Fred Quimby, but the idea for the scene was Donen's. Originally Donen and Kelly wanted to use either Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck for the sequence and met with Walt Disney to discuss the project. At the time Disney was working on a similar idea in The Three Caballeros and was unwilling to allow one of his characters to appear in an MGM film. They spent two months shooting Kelly's dancing and Donen spent a year perfecting the scene frame by frame. According to Barbera "the net result at the preview of Anchors Away that I went to, blew the audience away."
    Donen accepted and choreographed three dance sequences with Kelly in 1944's Cover Girl.
    More Details Hide Details Donen came up with the idea for the "Alter Ego" dance sequence where Kelly's reflection jumps out of a shop window and dances with him. Director Charles Vidor insisted that the idea would never work, so Donen and Kelly directed the scene themselves and Donen spent over a year editing it. The film made Kelly a movie star and is considered by many film critics to be an important and innovative musical. Donen signed a one-year contract with Columbia and choreographed several films there, but returned to MGM the following year when Kelly wanted assistance on his next film.
  • 1942
    Age 17
    Eventually Donen was fired from Best Foot Forward, but in 1942 was the stage manager and assistant choreographer for Abbott's next show Beat the Band.
    More Details Hide Details In 1946, Donen briefly returned to Broadway to help choreograph dance numbers for Call Me Mister. In 1943 Arthur Freed, the successful producer of musical films at Metro Goldwyn Mayer, bought the film rights to Best Foot Forward and made a film version starring Lucille Ball and William Gaxton. Donen moved to Hollywood to audition for the film and signed a one-year contract with MGM. In Best Foot Forward, Donen appeared as a chorus dancer and was made assistant choreographer by Charles Walters. At MGM Donen renewed his friendship with Kelly, who was quickly becoming a popular supporting actor in musicals. When Kelly was loaned to Columbia Pictures for a film with Rita Hayworth, he was offered the chance to choreograph his own dance numbers and asked Donen to assist. Kelly stated, "Stanley needed a job. I needed someone to count for the cameraman, someone who knew the steps and could explain what I was going to do so the shot was set up correctly."
  • 1940
    Age 15
    Encouraged by his mother, he moved to New York City to pursue dancing on stage in the fall of 1940.
    More Details Hide Details After two auditions he was cast as a chorus dancer in the original Broadway production of Rodgers and Hart's Pal Joey, directed by the legendary George Abbott. The title role of Pal Joey was played by the young up-and-comer Gene Kelly, who became a Broadway star in the role. Abbott asked Donen to appear in the chorus of his next Broadway show Best Foot Forward. He quickly became the show's assistant stage manager, and Kelly asked him to be his assistant choreographer.
  • 1937
    Age 12
    Stanley Donen was born in Columbia, South Carolina to Mordecai Moses Donen, a dress-shop manager, and Helen (Cohen), the daughter of a jewelry salesman. His younger sister Carla Donen Davis was born in August 1937.
    More Details Hide Details Although born to Jewish parents, he became an atheist in his youth. Donen described his childhood as lonely and unhappy as one of the few Jews in Columbia, and he was occasionally bullied by anti-semitic classmates at school. To help cope with his isolation, he spent much of his youth in local movie theaters and was especially fond of Westerns, comedies and thrillers. The film that had the strongest impact on him was the 1933 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musical Flying Down to Rio. Donen said that he "must have seen the picture thirty or forty times. I was transported into some sort of fantasy world where everything seemed to be happy, comfortable, easy and supported. A sense of well-being filled me." He shot and screened home movies with an 8 mm camera and projector that his father bought for him.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1924
    Born
    Born in 1924.
    More Details Hide Details
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