Foster in 1938
Norman Foster Hoeffer
December 13, 1903
Richmond, Indiana, U.S.
|Died||July 7, 1976 (aged 72)|
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, director, screenwriter|
(m. 1928; div. 1935)
Norman Foster (born Norman Foster Hoeffer, December 13, 1903 – July 7, 1976) was an American actor, film director and screenwriter. He directed many Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto films as well as projects for Orson Welles and Walt Disney. As an actor he was a leading man in early talkies and also appeared in Welles’ final film The Other Side of the Wind.
Life and career
Norman Foster was born Norman Foster Hoeffer on December 13, 1903, in Richmond, Indiana. He became a cub reporter on a local newspaper in Indiana before going to New York in the hopes of getting a better newspaper job but there were no vacancies.
He tried a number of theatrical agencies before getting stage work including The Barker (1927, New York; 1928, London) in which he appeared opposite Claudette Colbert. He later appeared on Broadway in the George S. Kaufman/Ring Lardner play June Moon in 1929. He began working in crowd scenes in films before moving to bigger parts.
Foster wrote several plays. He gave up acting in the late 1930s to pursue directing, although he occasionally appeared in movies and television programs. Foster directed a number of Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto mysteries, including Charlie Chan in Panama (1940), Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (1939), Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation (1939), Charlie Chan in Reno (1939), Mr. Moto's Last Warning (1939), Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938), Mr. Moto Takes a Chance (1938), Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937), and Think Fast, Mr. Moto (1937). He co-wrote and directed the "My Friend Bonito" segment of Orson Welles's unfinished Pan-American anthology film It's All True (1941).:310–311 Initially engaged as a second-unit director who would film background material,:189 Foster came to do much more and the quality of his work would have been recognized with a co-director credit on the film.:31–34 A co-production of RKO Pictures and the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, the non-commercial project was later terminated by RKO.:41
As Welles prepared to go to Brazil to film the Rio Carnival for It's All True, he temporarily suspended "Bonito" (for which filming was never completed) so Foster could return to Hollywood to direct Journey into Fear (1943). Welles played a small on-screen role in the Mercury Production, and denied that he took over direction of the film himself.:155
Some of Foster's other directorial efforts include Kiss the Blood off My Hands (1948), Rachel and the Stranger (1948), Woman on the Run (1950) and The Sign of Zorro (1958). He directed the Davy Crockett segments of the Walt Disney anthology television series Disneyland that were edited into the feature films Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (1955) and Davy Crockett and the River Pirates (1956). Foster's second verse of his lyrics to Disney's Zorro theme song which was "He is polite, but the wicked take flight, when they catch the sight of Zorro. He's friend of the weak, and the poor, and the meek, this very unique Senor Zorro." never aired on the television series. This version of the Zorro Theme including these verses was performed by The Chordettes. These verses later appeared in the Disney Sing-Along Songs version of the Zorro Theme in its 1987 direct-to-video episode, "Heigh-Ho".
In 1928, Foster secretly married Claudette Colbert in London. Concerned about the reaction of Colbert's mother to their union, they continued to keep their marriage a secret from her, even to the point of living apart. Nevertheless, in 1935 they divorced, and Foster in October that same year married actress Sally Blane, an older sister of actress Loretta Young. They had their first child, Gretchen (Loretta Young's birth name), who was born in June 1936. They also had a son, Robert.
|September 14 – November 1926||Just Life||Dick Fellows||Henry Miller's Theatre, New York|
|October 20 – November 1926||Sure Fire||Philip Cole||Waldorf Theatre, New York|
|January 18 – July 1927||The Barker||Chris Miller||Biltmore Theatre, New York|
|November 22, 1927 – March 1928||The Racket||Dave Ames||Ambassador Theatre, New York|
|September 12 – December 1928||Night Hostess||Rags Conway||Martin Beck Theatre, New York|
|November 1 – December 1928||Tin Pan Alley||Fred Moran||Biltmore Theatre, New York|
|April 24 – May 11, 1929||Carnival||Bobbie Spencer||Forrest Theatre, New York|
|October 9, 1929 – June 4, 1930||June Moon||Fred M. Stevens||Broadhurst Theatre, New York|
|December 31, 1930 – January 1931||Savage Rhythm||Writer (with Harry Hamilton)|
John Golden Theatre, New York
Film and television credits
|1929||Gentlemen of the Press||Ted Hanley|||
|1929||Love at First Sight||Richard Norton|||
|1930||Young Man of Manhattan||Toby McLean|||
|1931||No Limit||Douglas Thayer|||
|1931||It Pays to Advertise||Rodney Martin|||
|1931||Men Call It Love||Jack Mills|||
|1931||Up Pops the Devil||Steve Merrick|||
|1931||Confessions of a Co-Ed||Hal|||
|1932||Girl of the Rio||Johnny Powell|||
|1932||Play Girl||Wallie Dennis|||
|1932||Alias the Doctor||Stephan Brenner|||
|1932||The Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood||Melville Cohen|||
|1932||Week-End Marriage||Ken Hays|||
|1932||Strange Justice||Wally Baker|||
|1933||State Fair||Wayne Frake|||
|1933||Professional Sweetheart||Jim Davey|||
|1933||Rafter Romance||Jack Bacon|||
|1933||Walls of Gold||Barnes Ritchie|||
|1934||Orient Express||Carlton Myatt|||
|1934||Strictly Dynamite||Nick Montgomery|||
|1934||Elinor Norton||Bill Carroll|||
|1935||Behind the Evidence||Tony Sheridan|
|1935||Behind the Green Lights||Dave Britten|||
|1935||The Hoosier Schoolmaster||Ralph Hartsook|||
|1935||Ladies Crave Excitement||Dan Phelan|||
|1935||The Bishop Misbehaves||Donald Meadows|||
|1935||Escape from Devil's Island||Andre Dion|||
|1935||The Fire Trap||Bill Farnsworth|||
|1935||Suicide Squad||Larry Parker|||
|1936||The Leavenworth Case||Bob Gryce|||
|1936||Everybody's Old Man||Ronald Franklin|||
|1936||Fatal Lady||Philip Roberts|||
|1936||High Tension||Eddie Mitchell|||
|1936||I Cover Chinatown||Eddie Barton|||
|1938||Mysterious Mr. Moto||Hoodlum in tavern||Uncredited|
|2018||The Other Side of the Wind||Billy Boyle||Final role. Filmed in 1974, not released until 2018.|
- Hinkson, Jake (April 30, 2011). "Norman, Is That You? The Long Wait of Norman Foster". Bright Lights Film Journal. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
- Katz, Ephraim (1998). The Film Encyclopedia (3rd ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 481. ISBN 0-06-273492-X.
- Amy Fine Collins (April 2000), "A Perfect Star", Vanity Fair. Accessed April 19, 2019.
- Benamou, Catherine L. (2007). It's All True: Orson Welles's Pan-American Odyssey. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-24247-0.
- Wilson, Richard, "It's Not Quite All True". Sight & Sound, Volume 39 Number 4, Autumn 1970.
- Callow, Simon, Hello Americans. New York: Viking, 2006 ISBN 0-670-87256-3
- Welles, Orson, and Peter Bogdanovich, edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum, This is Orson Welles. New York: HarperCollins, 1992; ISBN 0-06-016616-9.
- Lewis, Judy (1994). Uncommon Knowledge.
- "Norman Foster". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
- "Norman Foster". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
- Graver, Gary (2008). Rausch, Andrew J. (ed.). Making Movies with Orson Welles; A Memoir. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. pp. 47–48. ISBN 0-8108-6140-2.
- Karp, Josh (2015). Orson Welles's Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of the Wind. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 144. ISBN 9781250007087.
- "Norman Foster". BFI Film & TV Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
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