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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 17 July 1887Graceville, Minnesota, USA
Date of Death 11 October 1952Pacific Palisades, California, USA  (pulmonary disease)
Birth NameHugh Ryan Conway

Mini Bio (1)

Born Hugh Ryan Conway of Irish ancestry, Jack was one of a team of MGM contract directors (others included Sam Wood and Robert Z. Leonard), who forsook any pretense to a specific individual style in favour of working within the strictures set forth by studio management -- as embodied by Irving Thalberg and his production supervisors. The overall MGM strategy was to streamline efficiency and achieve tighter fiscal control by curbing the power of the director. Deeply suspicious of creative, individualistic film makers who would jeopardise the 'studio look', Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer hoped to prevent such budgetary excesses as had been perpetrated by directors like Erich von Stroheim during the 1920's. Jack Conway contented himself to working within these guidelines. A thoroughly competent craftsman, he delivered commercially successful entertainments, on time, and within budget.

Conway had started out in the industry as an actor, joining a repertory theatre group straight out of high school. He segued into film acting in 1909. Two years later, he became a member of D.W. Griffith's stock company, appearing primarily as a leading man in westerns. In 1913, he made his mark as a director and gained valuable experience at Universal (1916-17, 1921-23), before moving on to MGM in 1925. Conway directed the studio's first sound picture, Alias Jimmy Valentine (1928). He remained under contract until 1948, often in charge of prestige assignments featuring the studio's top male star, Clark Gable: Boom Town (1940), Honky Tonk (1941), The Hucksters (1947) -- all solid box office gold. For his most famous film, A Tale of Two Cities (1935), Conway utilised 17,000 extras in the Paris mob scenes alone. This spectacular adaptation of the classic novel by Charles Dickens is still regarded by many as the definitive screen version.

Another popular hit was the sophisticated all-star comedy Libeled Lady (1936), the New York Times reviewer commenting on Conway's "agile direction" (Oct.31, 1936). The journeyman director may not have achieved fame as a creative genius, yet the majority of his films remain eminently entertaining to this day. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Vine Street.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (2)

Virginia Bushman (21 September 1926 - 11 October 1952) (his death) (2 children)
Viola Barry (21 February 1911 - 1918) (divorced) (2 children)

Trivia (9)

Father, with Virginia Bushman, of actor Pat Conway.
Son-in-law of actor Francis X. Bushman.
Brother-in-law of art director Bruce Bushman, actor Francis X. Bushman Jr., Lenore Bushman and Josephine Bushman.
Father, with Viola Barry, of Rosemary Foster
There is a street in Pacific Palisades named after him: Jacon Way.
Starred in one of the earliest movies ever filmed in Hollywood, Her Indian Hero (1912).
His career move from acting to directing occurred after he had refused to step into a cage and wrestle a lion.
Directed the first 'talkie" for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Alias Jimmy Valentine (1928).
Survived by his widow, Virginia, and sons, Patrick and Michael and daughter, Mrs. Rosemary Foster who were at his bedside when he died.

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