LeRoy in 1958
|Died||September 13, 1987 (aged 86)|
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)|
|Employer||First National Pictures (1927–1929)|
Warner Bros. (1929–1938)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (1938–1945) (1948–1954)
Warner Bros. (1955–1959)
|Children||Linda LeRoy Janklow|
Warner LeRoy (1935–2001)
Mervyn LeRoy // (October 15, 1900 – September 13, 1987) was an American film director, film producer and screenplay writer. In his youth he played juvenile roles in vaudeville and silent film comedies.
During the 1930s, LeRoy was one of the two great practitioners of economical and effective film directing at Warner Brothers studios, the other his cohort Michael Curtiz. LeRoy’s outstanding films of his tenure at Warners include Little Caesar (1931), I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1932), Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) and They Won't Forget (1939).
LeRoy was born on October 15, 1900 in San Francisco to Jewish parents, Edna (née Armer) and Harry LeRoy. The 1906 earthquake, which destroyed his father's import-export business, left his family in financial ruin. After his father's death in 1910, young Mervyn worked selling newspapers in front of the Alcazar Theater. From this sales location, he was given a bit part for a play. Through his winning a Charlie Chaplin impersonation contest, he moved into vaudeville, then minor parts in silent movies.
LeRoy worked in costumes, processing labs and as a camera assistant until he became a gag writer and actor in silent films, including The Ten Commandments in 1923. LeRoy credits Ten Commandments director, Cecil B. DeMille, for inspiring him to become a director: "As the top director of the era, DeMille had been the magnet that had drawn me to his set as often as I could go." LeRoy also credits DeMille for teaching him the directing techniques required to make his own films.
His first directing job was with First National Pictures on 1927's No Place to Go. LeRoy ended up working at Warner Bros. after they took control of First National. When his low-cost movies were profitable, he became well received in the movie business. He directed two key films which launched Edward G. Robinson into major stardom, the Oscar-nominated critique of tabloid journalism Five Star Final (1931), and the classic gangster film Little Caesar (1931), which made his mark. From that point forward, LeRoy would be responsible for a diverse variety of films as a director and producer. The following year's I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang was also nominated for the Academy Award for Outstanding Production as was his Anthony Adverse (1936).
In 1938, he was chosen as head of production at MGM, where he was responsible for the decision to make The Wizard of Oz. He was responsible for discovering Clark Gable, Loretta Young, Robert Mitchum and Lana Turner. His 1941 film Blossoms in the Dust was nominated for the Academy Award for Outstanding Motion Picture. His first big hit as a director with MGM was 1942's Random Harvest which was their biggest of the season earning worldwide rentals of $8 million and for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Directing. The film was also nominated for the Academy Award for Outstanding Motion Picture. He hit big again two years later with Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo with rentals of $6 million. During World War II, he also worked for the government, making short public information films on such subjects as contending with bombs and putting out fires, to help prepare the country for a possible attack. In 1951, he scored his biggest hit with Quo Vadis earning worldwide rentals of $21 million as well as a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture. In the early 1950s, LeRoy directed such musicals as Lovely to Look At, Million Dollar Mermaid, Latin Lovers and Rose Marie.
He returned to Warner Brothers in 1955. He took over from John Ford as director on Mister Roberts, another big hit which was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture. He also directed films for Warners such as The Bad Seed, No Time for Sergeants, The FBI Story, and Gypsy.
A total of eight movies Mervyn LeRoy directed or co-directed were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, one of the highest numbers among all directors.
LeRoy married three times and had many relationships with Hollywood actresses. He was first married to Elizabeth Edna Murphy in 1927, which ended in divorce in 1933. During their separation, LeRoy dated Ginger Rogers, but they ended the relationship and stayed lifelong friends. In 1934, he married Doris Warner, the daughter of Warner Bros. founder, Harry Warner. The couple had one son, Warner LeRoy and one daughter, Linda LeRoy Janklow, who is married to Morton L. Janklow. His son, Warner LeRoy, became a restaurateur. The marriage ended in divorce in 1942. In 1946, he married Kathryn "Kitty" Priest Rand, who had been previously married to Sidney M. Spiegel (the co-founder of Essaness Theatres and grandson of Joseph Spiegel); and to restaurateur Ernie Byfield. They remained married until his death. LeRoy also sold his Bel Air, Los Angeles, home to Johnny Carson.
LeRoy owned a home near the Racquet Club of Palm Springs, where he reminisced about his 1946 honeymoon. He retired in 1965 and wrote his autobiography, Take One, in 1974. After being bed ridden for six months, LeRoy died of natural causes and heart issues in Beverly Hills, California at age 86. He was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
A fan of thoroughbred horse racing, Mervyn LeRoy was a founding member of the Hollywood Turf Club, operator of the Hollywood Park Racetrack and a member of the track's board of directors from 1941 until his death in 1987. In partnership with father-in-law, Harry Warner, he operated a racing stable, W-L Ranch Co., during the 1940s/50s.
|1920||Double Speed||Sam Wood||Leroy in a juvenile role, uncredited|
|1922||The Ghost Breaker||Alfred E. Green||Leroy as “A Ghost”, uncredited|
|1923||Little Johnny Jones||Arthur Rosson, Johnny Hines||Leroy as “George Nelson”|
|1923||Going Up||Lloyd Ingraham||Leroy as “Bell Boy”|
|1923||The Call of the Canyon||Victor Fleming||Leroy as “Jack Rawlins”|
|1924||Broadway After Dark||Monta Bell||Leroy as “Carl Fisher”|
|1924||The Chorus Lady||Ralph Ince||Leroy as “Duke”|
Writer (Comedies): 1924-1926
|1924||In Hollywood with Potash and Perlmutter||Alfred E. Green||Leroy served as a “gag writer”|
|1925||Sally||Alfred E. Green|
|1925||The Desert Flower||Irving Cummings|
|1925||The Pace That Thrills||John Francis Dillon||Leroy served as assistant director (uncredited)|
|1925||We Moderns||Ralph Ince|
|1926||Irene||Alfred E. Green|
|1926||Ella Cinders||Alfred E. Green|
|1926||It Must Be Love||Alfred E. Green|
|1926||Orchids and Ermine||Alfred Santell|
|1927||No Place to Go||Productions/First National Pictures||Adeliade Helbron||George Folsey||Mary Astor, Lloyd Hughes||Also released as “Her Primitive Mate”|
|1928||Flying Romeos||E,M. Asher/First National Pictures||John McDermott||Dev Jennings||Charlie Murray, George Sydney|
|1928||Harold Teen||Alan Dwan/First National Pictures||Thomas J. Geraghty||Ernest Haller||Arthur Lake, Mary Brian||Based on Carl Ed comic strip|
|1928||Oh, Kay!||E,M. Asher/First National Pictures||Carey Wilson||Sid Hickox||Colleen Moore, Alan Hale Sr.|
|1929||Naughty Baby||Richard A. Rowland/First National Pictures||Thomas J. Geraghty||Ernest Haller||Alice White, John Mulhall||Released in G.B. as Reckless Rosie|
|1937||The Great Garrick||Warner Bros.||James Whale||Ernest Haller||Brian Aherne,Olivia de Havilland|
|1938||Stand Up and Fight||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer||W. S. Van Dyke||Leonard Smith||Wallace Beery, Robert Taylor||Screenplay by James M. Cain|
|1938||Dramatic School||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer||Robert B. Sinclair||William H. Daniels||Luise Rainer, Paulette Goddard|
|1938||At the Circus||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer||Edward Buzzell||Leonard Smith||Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx|
|1939||The Wizard of Oz||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer||Victor Fleming||Harold Rosson||Judy Garland, Frank Morgan|
|1932||The Dark Horse||Sam Bischoff/First National Pictures||Alfred E. Green||Sol Polito||Warren William, Bette Davis||Unspecified contributions|
|1933||42nd Street||Warner Bros.||Lloyd Bacon||Sol Polito||Warner Baxter, Ruby Keeler||Assisted in one of the musical numbers|
|1947||Desire Me||Arthur Hornblow Jr./Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer||George Cukor||Joseph Ruttenberg||Greer Garson, Robert Mitchum||LeRoy made extensive reshoots for the picture|
|1949||The Great Sinner||Gottfried Reinhardt/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer||Robert Siodmak||George Folsey||Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner||Re-shot and re-edited portions of the film|
|1968||The Green Berets||Michael Wayne/Batjac Productions||John Wayne, Ray Kellogg||Winton C. Hoch||John Wayne, Jim Hutton||Assisted Wayne during 5 months of production|
- Finler, Joel W. (1992), The Hollywood Story (Second ed.), Mandarin, p. 458, ISBN 0-7493-0637-8
- Barson, 2020
- Baxter, 1970: p. 79: LeRoy “made at Warners some of the most polished and ambitious productions of the Thirties.” And p. 71-72: Warner’s “two great directors [of the Thirties] Mervyn Leroy and Michael Curtiz.”
- Barson, 2020: List LeRoy’s top films of the 1930s at Warners in as “Little Caesar, I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang, And Gold Diggers Of 1933.” And: “They Won’t Forget (1937) was the most serious drama LeRoy had been given in years... the film was a powerful indictment of political ambition.”
- Barson, 2020: “LeRoy left Warner Brothers for the greener pastures of M-G-M, where he was offered an unusual deal that allowed him to function as either a producer or a director.” And: “...most enduringly” his production of director Victor Fleming’s Wizard of Oz.
- "Producer Mervyn LeRoy dies". Lodi News-Sentinel. United Press International. September 14, 1987. p. 3. Retrieved May 12, 2017 – via Google News.
- Mervyn LeRoy – Biography, Bruce Eder, Allmovie
- Peter B. Flint (September 14, 1987). "Mervyn LeRoy, 86, Dies – Director and Producer". NYTimes.com. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
- Scodel, Ruth; Bettenworth, Anja (2009). Whither Quo Vadis: Sienkiewicz's Novel in Film and Television - Ruth Scodel, Anja Bettenworth. p. 215. ISBN 978-1444306132. Retrieved September 20, 2015 – via Google Books.
- Tibbetts, John C. ed. American Classic Screen Profiles, Scarecrow Press (2010) p. 175
- Hay, Peter (1991). MGM: When the Lion Roars. Georgia: Turner Publishing, Inc. pp. 169–170. via Rudolph, Kalie (June 28, 2011). "The Golden Era of Hollywood: The Making of The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind". Voces Novae: Chapman University Historical Review. 3 (1). Retrieved May 12, 2017.
- Harmetz, Aljean (1977). The Making of the Wizard of Oz. New York: Alfred K. Knopf. p. 3. via Rudolph, Kalie (June 28, 2011). "The Golden Era of Hollywood: The Making of The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind". Voces Novae: Chapman University Historical Review. 3 (1). Retrieved May 12, 2017.
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- Mervyn LeRoy at Hollywood's Golden Age. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
- Beaupre, Lee (January 5, 1966). "Star, Producer, Director Identification With All-Time Top Grossing Features". Variety. p. 7.
- Los Angeles Times: "Kathryn LeRoy; Philanthropist, Civic Leader" February 08, 1996
- Chicago Jewish History: "Ernest Byfield: The Pump Room and The Pageant" by William Roth September 2006
- Zannella, Michael (November 25, 1974). "The Johnny Carsons". People Magazine. Archived from the original on December 19, 2017. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
- "Mervyn LeRoy | Hollywood Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
- "Mervyn LeRoy". latimes.com. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
- Meeks, Eric G. (2014) . The Best Guide Ever to Palm Springs Celebrity Homes. Horatio Limburger Oglethorpe. pp. 29–30, 34. ISBN 978-1479328598.
- Mervyn LeRoy at Find a Grave
-  Archived February 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- Canham, 1976 p. 166-189
- Baxter, John. 1970. Hollywood in the Thirties. International Film Guide Series. Paperback Library, New York. LOC Card Number 68-24003.
- Canham, Kingsley. 1976. The Hollywood Professionals, Volume 5: King Vidor, John Cromwell, Mervyn LeRoy. The Tantivy Press, London. ISBN 0-498-01689-7
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mervyn LeRoy.|