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Preston Sturges Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (4) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (20) | Personal Quotes (8)

Overview (4)

Born in Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died in New York City, New York, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameEdmund Preston Biden
Height 6' 0½" (1.84 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Preston Sturges' own life is as unlikely as some of the plots of his best work. He was born into a wealthy family. As a boy he helped out on stage productions for his mother's friend, Isadora Duncan (the scarf that strangled her was made by his mother's company, Maison Desti). He served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during WWI. Upon his return to Maison Desti, he invented a kissproof lipstick, Red-Red Rouge, in 1920. Shortly after his first marriage, his mother demanded that he return control of the company to her. Kicked out of Maison Desti, he turned to inventing. A tickertape machine, an intaglio photo-etching process, an automobile and an airplane were among his some of his commercially unsuccessful inventions. He began writing stories and, while recovering from an appendectomy in 1929, wrote his first play, "The Guinea Pig". In financial trouble over producing his plays, he moved to Hollywood in 1932 to make money. It wasn't long before he became frustrated by the lack of control he had over his work and wanted to direct the scripts he wrote. Paramount gave him this chance as part of a deal for selling his script for The Great McGinty (1940), at a cheap price. The film's success launched his career as writer/director and he had several hits over the next four years. That success emboldened him to become an independent filmmaker, but that did not last long--he had a string of commercial failures and acquired a reputation as an expensive perfectionist. He moved to France to make what turned out to be his last movie, The French, They Are a Funny Race (1955). He died at the Algonquin Hotel, New York City, in 1959.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Amy Harper <LookItUp1@aol.com>

Spouse (4)

Sandy Sturges (15 August 1951 - 6 August 1959) (his death) (2 children)
Louise Sargent (7 November 1938 - 1 December 1948) (divorced) (1 child)
Eleanor Post Hutton (12 April 1930 - 12 April 1932) (annulled)
Estelle de Wolfe Mudge (23 December 1923 - 1 July 1928) (divorced)

Trade Mark (4)

Witty, rapid-fire dialogue mixed with broad, screwball physical comedy
A colorful supporting cast (often including the same actors) who give his films a bustling liveliness
Wry explorations of the sexual politics of the time, with a typically strong, crafty female lead who often runs intellectual circles around a gullible, idealistic male lead
His films often have a more subversive and dark undertone than other comedies of the day, at times suddenly veering into such risque themes as sexuality, poverty, corruption and murder

Trivia (20)

Interred at Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York, USA.
Appears as a character in John Kessel's story "The Miracle of Ivar Avenue".
He was working on his memoirs when he died suddenly, sick and alone, in a Manhattan hotel room. Ironically, to say the least, the working title of the book he left behind was "The Events Leading Up To My Death".
When he was at his peak at Paramount in the mid-1940s, he was not only the highest paid screenwriter but he was one of the highest paid people in America.
He once owned a nightclub on the Sunset Strip called The Players. He met and later married his fourth wife, Sandy Sturges (born Sandy Nagle) in the place. She did not know he was the owner when they met, thinking he was just another employee.
Great-grandfather of Jack Enzo Kelly, born on September 6 2001, to Shannon Sturges and Michael Kelley.
Grandfather of actress Shannon Sturges.
He was a womanizer who struggled in most of his serious sexual relationships. Part of his unwillingness for monogamy was that his mother often held several affairs with several different men and women at one time while she was raising him.
Was voted the 28th Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly. With only 13 films to his credit, he directed even fewer movies than did Stanley Kubrick.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945". Pages 1085-1090. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
Son Solomon Sturges IV was in born June, 1941. Son Preston Sturges Jr. was born in 1953. Son Tom Sturges (aka Thomas Preston Sturges) was born on June 22, 1956.
In the talkies era he was the first great writer to became a director.
Sold Paramount Pictures the rights to The Great McGinty (1940) for one dollar with the agreement that he direct the film.
His mother, Mary Desti, was for a time the lover of the notorious Aleister Crowley, whose dislike for the young Sturges was heartily reciprocated, and they each came in for harsh criticism in the other's memoirs.
In the 1950s, Katharine Hepburn acquired the rights to George Bernard Shaw's play "The Millionairess" and tried to put together a version in which she would have starred and Sturges would have directed. But no producer or studio would finance the project with Sturges attached to it, and "The Millionairess" was ultimately filmed by director Anthony Asquith with Sophia Loren and Peter Sellers as the stars.
Credited with bolstering the careers and maximizing the talents of Barbara Stanwyck and Brian Donlevy as well as turning the spotlight on some faded stars such as Rudy Vallee and Edgar Kennedy.
Seven of the eight movies he made for Paramount between 1940-44 were released in a Filmmakers Collection DVD box set in 2013.
Is said to have sold his signature The Great McGinty (1940) screenplay to Paramount for $1 with the promise that he would direct the movie, too.
In the late 1940s, he formed a production company with eccentric tycoon Howard Hughes, California Pictures,. but it ended suddenly when Hughes changed his mind. The only product of their brief union was Sturges' The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947) starring Harold Lloyd.
Did not start writing until he was 30 years old.

Personal Quotes (8)

I did all my directing when I wrote the screenplay. It was probably harder for a regular director. He probably had to read the script the night before shooting started.
[His "golden rule" for successful comedy] A pretty girl is better than a plain one / A leg is better than an arm / A bedroom is better than a living room / An arrival is better that a departure / A birth is better than a death / A chase is better than a chat / A dog is better than a landscape / A kitten is better than a dog / A baby is better than a kitten / A kiss is better than a baby / A pratfall is better than anything.
You can't go around the theaters handing out cards saying, "It isn't my fault". You go onto the next one.
The most incredible thing about my career is that I had one.
[on Veronica Lake] She's one of the little people, like Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Freddie Bartholomew when he started, who take hold of an audience immediately. She's nothing much in real life--a quiet, rather timid little thing. But the screen transforms her, electrifies her and brings her to life.
When the last dime is gone, I'll sit on the curb outside with a pencil and a ten-cent notebook and start the whole thing over again.
Cold are the hands of time that creep along relentlessly, destroying slowly, but without pity, that which yesterday was young. Alone our memories resist this disintegration and grow more lovely with the passing years.
[when asked by a writer to compose his own epitaph] Now I've laid me down to die / I pry my neighbors not to pry / too deeply into sins that I / not only cannot here deny / but much enjoyed as time flew by.

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