Directed many adaptations of books & plays and was known to be particularly skilled at interpreting stage plays for the screen
His 8 film collaborations with Katharine Hepburn
He was often regarded as a "women's director" because his films frequently are centered around strong female characters.
Interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California, USA, in the Garden of Honor, unmarked. (Private area. Not accessible to the general public). Frances Goldwyn [Frances Howard], wife of mogul Samuel Goldwyn, is buried next to Cukor at her request because of her long, but unrequited love for him.
He was replaced as director of Gone with the Wind (1939) because of constant disagreements with producer David O. Selznick over the script and direction (not as rumour had it because Clark Gable considered him better suited as a so-called woman's director).
Worked as Broadway director before going into the film business with Grumpy (1930).
He was famous for the parties he threw later in life for large groups of directors, many parties being attended by other directing legends such as Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, Luis Buñuel, and George Stevens.
He was famous as a sophisticated, witty personality but was also in the habit (mainly to be naughty) of blurting out unexpected profanities.
Was voted the 18th Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945". Pages 163-172. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
Did a few days work as intermediate director on The Wizard of Oz (1939) (although he never actually filmed any scenes) after original director Richard Thorpe had been dismissed. Victor Fleming was eventually hired to direct the picture. Coincidentally, Cukor's next film, Gone with the Wind (1939), also went on to be directed by Fleming after Cukor was fired due to disagreements with the film's producer, David O. Selznick.
He did not make a musical, or fully direct a film in color, until A Star Is Born (1954).
Directed 20 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Basil Rathbone, Norma Shearer, Greta Garbo, James Stewart, Katharine Hepburn, Ruth Hussey, Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Angela Lansbury, Ronald Colman, Deborah Kerr, Judy Holliday, James Mason, Judy Garland, Anthony Quinn, Anna Magnani, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Gladys Cooper and Maggie Smith. Stewart, Bergman, Colman, Holliday, and Harrison won Oscars for their performances in Cukor's movies.
In 1968, he accepted the Oscar for best actress in a leading role on behalf of Katharine Hepburn, who wasn't present at the ceremony.
Enjoyed a successful working partnership with Katharine Hepburn, directing her in ten films over a period of 47 years: A Bill of Divorcement (1932), Little Women (1933), Sylvia Scarlett (1935), Holiday (1938), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Keeper of the Flame (1942), Adam's Rib (1949), Pat and Mike (1952), Love Among the Ruins (1975) (TV), The Corn Is Green (1979) (TV).
Godfather of Mia Farrow .
He was largely responsible for the ultimate look of the characters in the film The Wizard of Oz (1939). Richard Thorpe, the film's first director, had decided on how the makeup should look, and had made some rather catastrophic decisions (see Buddy Ebsen). He was eventually fired, and during a stopover at the film's set, Cukor gave some directorial suggestions (such as removing Judy Garland's blonde wig), which ultimately were used in the finished film.
He was rather heavy set when he first began directing. In fact, he looked very much like producer David O. Selznick physically. In later years, he lost weight and much of his hair.
Cukor was fired as director of Gone with the Wind (1939) only a month before The Women (1939) was scheduled to begin filming. Producer Hunt Stromberg enlisted Cukor's services immediately upon his sudden availability.
Interviewed in Peter Bogdanovich's "Who the Devil Made It: Conversations With Robert Aldrich, George Cukor, Allan Dwan, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Chuck Jones, Fritz Lang, Joseph H. Lewis, Sidney Lumet, Leo McCarey, Otto Preminger, Don Siegel, Josef von Sternberg, Frank Tashlin, Edgar G. Ulmer, Raoul Walsh." NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives." Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 199-201. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
Was the original choice to direct The Seven Year Itch (1955); however, he turned down the project.
Was original choice to direct Lady L (1965).
Described by British actor Leslie Phillips as "an absolute shit" in an interview with a local English magazine (in promotion for the film Venus (2006/I)). He said that Cukor "wouldn't listen to anybody", and that Gene Kelly had come up to him and said "Look, if you suggest anything he will take your balls off. So you tell me what your ideas are and I'll sell it to him.".
For many decades owned a luxurious art deco mansion in the Hollywood hills above Sunset Boulevard, surrounded by Romanesque gardens, which served as the setting for many lavish parties.
With the U.S. Army during World War II, turning out training and propaganda films in New York.
Graduated from DeWitt-Clinton High school. Subsequently served an eleven-year apprenticeship in the theatre, rising from assistant stage manager for a touring company to Broadway stage manager and director.
His father worked in the offices of the Manhattan District Attorney.
Started his career in Hollywood as dialogue director on All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). Prior to his arrival at MGM, he had brief spells at Paramount (1930-31) and RKO (1932-33). Subsequently under contract at MGM, 1933-37, 1939-44, 1949-50 and 1952-53.
He replaced John Sturges as director of "Wild is the Wind", Charles Vidor as director of "Song Without End" (although Vidor, who died three weeks into filming, got sole credit), Joseph Strick as director of "Justine" and Robert Mulligan as director of "Rich And Famous". He also directed one day's shooting of "Lust For Life" in the absence of Vincente Minnelli.
Although he won an Academy Award for "My Fair Lady" and the film proved to be his biggest-ever box-office hit, he did not make another film for nearly five years after it. In this time, he was repeatedly frustrated in his efforts to launch new movie projects. These included: "Bloomer Girl", a lavish version of the Broadway musical, to star Shirley Maclaine; "The Nine Tiger Man", a version of the novel by his friend Lesley Blanche; "The Right Honorable Gentleman", a film about Sir Charles Dilke, a politician whose career was ruined by a sex scandal, to star Rex Harrison; and a melodrama about Victorian spiritualists. None of these ideas ever became films.
...you direct a couple of successful pictures with women stars, so you become a 'woman's director'...Direct a sentimental little picture and all you get is sob stuff. I know I've been in and out of those little compartments. Heaven knows everyone has limitations. But why make them narrower than they are?
Give me a good script, and I'll be a hundred times better as a director.
You'd like to think you're pretty much an original, everything about yourself distinctive and individual. But it is surprising to realise to what extent you echo your family, and how, from childhood, you have been shaped and molded...
[favorite bit of advice he'd give to hyperactive actresses] Don't just do something, stand there!
Jack Lemmon is not one of those actors who'll bore you to death discussing acting. He'd rather bore you to death discussing golf.
There's been an awful lot of crap written about Marilyn Monroe, and I don't know, there may be an exact psychiatric term for what was wrong with her but truth to tell, I think she was quite mad.
W.C. Fields had his own ideas about playing Mr Micawber in David Copperfield (1935). He wanted to include a juggling routine and when I said [Charles Dickens] never mentioned Micawber juggling, he said, 'He probably forgot'.
[on Louise Brooks] A beautiful nothing.
You can always land on your feet if you know where the ground is.
Alas, I am not an auteur, but damn few directors can write. They're very clever and they can go through the paces. As a director, you've got to think of your own limitations. There are certain things you're sympathetic with, and there are certain things you say to yourself. 'Well, I can do it because I'm perfectly competent, but there's so many people who can do it much better than I can.' I've been sent a script I think is charming and I said, 'I think you ought to get an Italian director; it's madness to ask me to do it'.
If I were very handsome, maybe I'd have been an actor.
I don't weep or anything, but there's always some part of me left bloody on the scene I've just directed.
[on Ava Gardner] Ava Gardner's famous temper caused some sticky moments. She's a great trooper, we overcame all that. She's an old friend, with the command and control of the authentic star. Ava's a gent!
[on Ava Gardner] Ava herself was charming. She's a real movie queen, really exciting; lovely looking, too, with marvelous legs. When she crosses the screen, you're bound to follow her.
[1972 comment on Greta Garbo] Extremely well behaved and disciplined. She was unique -- a creature born for the screen. She knew when to quit, she just sensed it. She is much too intelligent to want to try to come back now.
[1972 comment on Audrey Hepburn] She is a truly romantic creature. She doesn't just profess good manners -- she is really well mannered at all times. She is not driven in her career but she gives full value and she is never indifferent.
[on Greta Garbo] Garbo went through a great deal to get a scene right. She worked out every gesture in advance and learned every syllable of dialogue exactly as written. She never improvised and I respected her for that.
[on Greta Garbo] She is a fascinating actress but she is limited. She must never create situations. She must be thrust into them. The drama comes in how she rides them out.
[on Gary Cooper] He accomplishes really sincere acting with very few tricks. Someone like Gary is dismissed with, "Oh, he is such a simple person, what he is playing is so simple." Look at it right up close, and you see it is much more than that, sometimes rather complex, but always subtle.
[Commenting on his overlong production of 'A Star is Born']: Neither the human mind nor the human ass can stand three hours of concentration.
[on Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)] The second time around, Bette wanted vengeance. It was Elizabeth the First, all over again. A mere apology from Joan wasn't enough. Bette wanted her head.
[on Jean Harlow] When I first saw her in Hell's Angels (1930) she was so bad she was comic. People laughed at her; she got big laughs where she didn't want them. Then she did Red-Headed Woman (1932) and Red Dust (1932) and she was marvelous. She was unique among actresses; she had that rare quality of speaking lines as though she didn't quite understand them ... [she] played comedy as naturally as a hen lays an egg.
I don't think you can teach people how to be funny. You can make suggestions about how to speak a line or get a laugh, but it has to be in them.
[on Bette Davis] She is a star, and all stars learn how to cultivate one very important asset early in their career: a very short memory. They remember only what they want to remember.
[on Joan Crawford and the horror films she made at the end of her career] Of course she rationalized what she did. Joan even lied to herself. She would write to me about these pictures, actually believing that they were quality scripts. You could never tell her they were garbage. She was a star, and this was her next picture. She had to keep working, as did Bette [Davis]. The two of them spawned a regrettable cycle in motion pictures.
|David Copperfield (1935)||$4,000/week|
|My Fair Lady (1964)||$300,000|
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