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Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck
File:Darryl F. Zanuck 1964.jpg
Darryl F. Zanuck, 1964
Born Darryl Francis Zanuck
(1902-09-05)September 5, 1902
Wahoo, Nebraska
Died December 22, 1979(1979-12-22) (aged 77)
Palm Springs, California
Cause of death
Jaw cancer
Resting place
Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
Other names Gregory Rogers[1]
Melville Crossman[1]
Mark Canfield[1]
Years active 1922–70
Spouse(s) Virginia Fox (1924–56; separated)
Children Darrylin Zanuck Jacks Pineda Carranza (1931– )
Susan Zanuck Hakim Savineau (1933–1980)
Richard D. Zanuck (1934–2012)

Darryl Francis Zanuck (September 5, 1902Template:Spaced ndashDecember 22, 1979) was an American film producer and studio executive; he earlier contributed stories for films starting in the silent era. He played a major part in the Hollywood studio system as one of its longest survivors (the length of his career was rivaled only by that of Adolph Zukor).[citation needed] He earned three Academy Awards during his tenure.

Early life

Zanuck was born in Wahoo, Nebraska, to Louise (née Torpin) and Frank Zanuck, who owned and operated a hotel in Wahoo.[2] Zanuck was of part Swiss descent[2] and was raised a Protestant.[3] At age six, Zanuck and his mother moved to Los Angeles, where the better climate could improve her poor health. At age eight, he found his first movie job as an extra, but his disapproving father recalled him to Nebraska.[citation needed] In 1918, despite being sixteen, he deceived a recruiter, joined the United States Army, and served in France with the Nebraska National Guard.

Upon returning to the US, he worked in many part-time jobs while seeking work as a writer. He found work producing movie plots, and sold his first story in 1922 to William Russell and his second to Irving Thalberg. Screenwriter Frederica Sagor Maas, story editor at Universal Pictures' New York office, stated that one of the stories Zanuck sent out to movie studios around this time was completely plagiarized from another author's work.[4]

Zanuck then worked for Mack Sennett and FBO (where he wrote the serials The Telephone Girl and The Leather Pushers) and took that experience to Warner Brothers, where he wrote stories for Rin Tin Tin and under a number of pseudonyms wrote over forty scripts from 1924 to 1929, including Red Hot Tires (1925) and Old San Francisco (1927). He moved into management in 1929, and became head of production in 1931.[citation needed]

Zanuck was also a mason.[citation needed]

Studio head

File:Darryl F Zanuck and Oscar in Gentleman's Agreement trailer.jpg
Darryl F. Zanuck at the Academy Awards celebration

In 1933, Zanuck left Warners over a salary dispute with studio head Jack Warner. A few days later, he partnered with Joseph Schenck to found 20th Century Pictures, Inc. with financial help from Joseph's brother Nicholas Schenck and Louis B. Mayer, President and Studio head of Loew's, Inc and its subsidiary Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, along with William Goetz and Raymond Griffith. 20th Century released its material through United Artists. During that short time (1933–1935), 20th Century became the most successful independent movie studio of its time, breaking box-office records with 18 of its 19 films, all in profitability, including Clive of India, Les Miserables and The House of Rothschild. After a dispute with United Artists over stock ownership, Schenck and Zanuck negotiated and bought out the bankrupt Fox studios in 1935 to form Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation.[5] Zanuck was Vice President of Production of this new studio and took an interventionist approach, closely involving himself in film editing and producing. Like the other heads of Hollywood studios, during World War II he was commissioned as a Colonel in the Army Signal Corps, holding command at Algiers. He returned to Twentieth Century-Fox in 1944.[citation needed]

In 1956, he withdrew from the studio and left his wife, Virginia Fox, to move to Europe and concentrate on independent producing. Many of his later films were designed, in part, to promote the careers of his successive girlfriends, Bella Darvi, Irina Demick, and Geneviève Gilles, and several movies he produced featured his girlfriend of the moment, including the French singer Juliette Gréco.[6]

He returned to control Fox in 1962, replacing Spyros Skouras, in a confrontation over the release of Zanuck's production of The Longest Day as the studio struggled to finish the difficult production of Cleopatra (1963). He made his son, Richard D. Zanuck, head of production. He later became involved in a power struggle with the board and his son, circa 1969. In May 1971, Zanuck was forced from "his" studio.[citation needed]


A long-time cigar smoker,[7] he died of jaw cancer at the age of 77, and was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.[8]


Haunted by his part in creating the "racist" Ham and Eggs at the Front (1927), Zanuck began tackling serious issues, breaking new ground by producing some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. Long before it was fashionable to do so, Zanuck addressed issues such as racism (Pinky), anti-Semitism (Gentleman's Agreement), poverty (The Grapes of Wrath, Tobacco Road), unfair unionization and destruction of the environment (How Green Was My Valley), and institutionalised mistreatment of the mentally ill (The Snake Pit). After The Snake Pit was released, thirteen states changed their laws. For his contributions to the motion picture industry, Zanuck earned three Thalberg Awards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; after Zanuck's third win, the rules were changed to limit one Thalberg Award to one person. 20th Century Fox, the studio he co-founded and ran successfully for so many years, screens movies in its Darryl F. Zanuck Theater. Zanuck's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located at 6336 Hollywood Blvd. Some say that Zanuck's reputation as an egotistical tyrant and voracious womanizer has tarnished his contribution to film.[citation needed]

Academy Awards

Year Result Category Film
1929–30 Nominated Outstanding Production Disraeli
1932–33 Nominated Outstanding Production 42nd Street
1934 Nominated Outstanding Production The House of Rothschild
1935 Nominated Outstanding Production Les Misérables
1937 Nominated Outstanding Production In Old Chicago
1938 Nominated Outstanding Production Alexander's Ragtime Band
1940 Nominated Outstanding Production The Grapes of Wrath
1941 Won Outstanding Motion Picture How Green Was My Valley
1944 Nominated Outstanding Motion Picture Wilson
1946 Nominated Outstanding Motion Picture The Razor's Edge
1947 Won Outstanding Motion Picture Gentleman's Agreement
1949 Nominated Outstanding Motion Picture Twelve O'Clock High
1950 Won Outstanding Motion Picture All About Eve
1956 Nominated Best Picture The King and I ("Darryl F. Zanuck presents" is seen in the opening credits)
1962 Nominated Best Picture The Longest Day

Select Filmography

Produced by Zanuck

Written by Zanuck

Zanuck in Documentaries; Television appearances


  1. ^ a b c Per IMDb.
  2. ^ a b's%20Famous%20Sons%3E%3EDarryl%20Zanuck
  3. ^ Gussow, Mel (September 1, 2002). "FILM; Darryl F. Zanuck, Action Hero of the Studio Era". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  4. ^ Maas, Frederica Sagor (1999). The Shocking Miss Pilgrim: A Writer in Early Hollywood. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky. pp. 44–45. ISBN 0-8131-2122-1. 
  5. ^ Ilias Chrissochoidis (ed.), Spyros P. Skouras, Memoirs (1893–1953) (Stanford, 2013), 104.
  6. ^ John Murray (2008). Charlotte Mosley, ed. In Tearing Haste: Letters Between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh-Fermor. 
  7. ^ Hift, Fred (September 1, 1994). "The Longest Day". Cigar Aficionado. Retrieved December 6, 2011. 
  8. ^ Darryl Francis Zanuck at Find a Grave

Further reading

  • Behlmer, Rudy (editor) (1993). Memo from Darryl F. Zanuck: The Golden Years at Twentieth Century-Fox. Grove. ISBN 0-8021-1540-3. 
  • Chrissochoidis, Ilias (editor) (2013). The Cleopatra Files: Selected Documents from the Spyros P. Skouras Archive. Brave World. ISBN 978-0-61582-919-7.
  • Chrissochoidis, Ilias (ed.). CinemaScope: Selected Documents from the Spyros P. Skouras Archive. Brave World, 2013. ISBN 978-0-61589-880-3.
  • Custen, George F. Twentieth Century's Fox: Darryl F. Zanuck And The Culture Of Hollywood. Basic Books (November 1997) ISBN 046507619X
  • Dunne, John Gregory. The Studio. Farrar, Straus & Giroux (January 1969) ISBN 0374271127
  • Mosley, Leonard (1984). Zanuck: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood's Last Tycoon. Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-58538-6. 
  • Farber, Stephen. Hollywood Dynasties, Putnam Group (July 1984) ISBN 0887150004
  • Harris, Marlys J. The Zanucks of Hollywood: The Dark Legacy of an American Dynasty, Crown (June 1989) ISBN 0517570203
  • Thackrey Jr., Thomas. (December 23, 1979). "Darryl F. Zanuck, Last of Movie Moguls, Dies at 77". Los Angeles Times, p. 1.

External links

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