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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 3 October 1896Los Angeles, California, USA
Date of Death 5 July 1969Santa Monica, California, USA  (emphysema)
Birth NameThomas Leo McCarey
Height 5' 9¼" (1.76 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Leo McCarey was born on October 3, 1896 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Thomas Leo McCarey. He was a director and writer, known for An Affair to Remember (1957), Going My Way (1944) and The Bells of St. Mary's (1945). He was married to Stella Martin. He died on July 5, 1969 in Santa Monica, California.

Spouse (1)

Stella Martin (? - ?)

Trivia (32)

He is responsible for the original teaming of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, though Hal Roach claimed it later and is now sometimes erroneously given credit.
Director/writer with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, W.C. Fields, and The Marx Brothers.
Brother of director Ray McCarey.
Child: Virginia Mary McCarey (c. 1927).
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945." Pages 739-747. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
French director Jean Renoir once said that no other Hollywood director understood people better than McCarey.
He accused Cary Grant of ripping off his persona while shooting The Awful Truth (1937), saying that the star's style and personality was just like his. McCarey and Grant worked together several times after that but never fully extinguished their long-standing antagonism resulting from McCarey's comments.
He is among an elite group of seven directors who have won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay (Orig/Adapted). The others are Billy Wilder, Francis Ford Coppola, James L. Brooks, Peter Jackson and Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (the brothers co-produced, co-directed and co-wrote No Country for Old Men (2007) with each other).
Directed 6 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Ralph Bellamy, Irene Dunne, Maria Ouspenskaya , Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald and Ingrid Bergman. Crosby and Fitzgerald won for their performances in Going My Way (1944).
Biography in: "American National Biography." Supplement 1, pp. 392-393. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
In August 2006, an Oscar statuette described as McCarey's Best Director award for Going My Way (1944) was going to be auctioned online, and was expected to sell for at least $100,000 (US). The auction was canceled after the award was found to be counterfeit. McCarey's daughter said she still had all three of her father's Oscars. The base was authentic, but the original nameplate had been removed and replaced with a fake one. The statuette also weighed about a pound more than a real one.
He is the first director to win three major categories at the Academy Awards--Best Picture, Best Director and Best Writing, Original Story, for Going My Way (1944).
Graduated from law school, passed the California bar and was a practicing criminal defense attorney for a short time before entering the movie business.
According to director Edward Dmytryk, who worked for him as an editor, McCarey never forgot a slight. He once told Dmytryk that early in his career Paramount had humiliated him by unceremoniously throwing him off the lot the moment a picture he was making for them was completed. After he became successful Paramount hired him for several more pictures, but McCarey got his revenge, he told Dmytryk, because "every picture I make for Paramount costs them a half-million more than it should".
In Newsweek Magazine famed documentary filmmaker Errol Morris named Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) his number one most important film, stating "The most depressing movie ever made, providing reassurance that everything will definitely end badly".
Orson Welles said of the film Make Way for Tomorrow (1937), "It would make a stone cry", and rhapsodized about his enthusiasm for the film in his book-length series of interviews with Peter Bogdanovich, "This Is Orson Welles".
In The Godfather (1972), his name appears outside of Radio City Music Hall, which is playing his popular film The Bells of St. Mary's (1945), as Michael is walking with Kay and reads about his father's attempted assassination from a newspaper headline.
Began his career as an assistant to Tod Browning at Universal Studios.
He believed that Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) was his finest film.
Had the highest reported income in the United States in 1944.
It is widely believed that many aspects of McCarey's films were based on his personal history.
Pressured by his father to study law at USC.
Attended St. Joseph's Catholic school and Los Angeles High School.
Named after his French-born mother, Leona (Mistrot) McCarey.
He was a practicing criminal defense attorney for a short time in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
He and his wife Stella lived at 1014 North Crescent Drive in Beverly Hills, two blocks away from McCarey's friend and fellow filmmaker Hal Roach.
Has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1500 Vine Street.
Was considered one of the most handsome directors in Hollywood, and some said as good looking as Cary Grant, whom he directed in four films.
The opening sequences of Nickelodeon (1976) in which Ryan O'Neal's character, Leo Harrigan, a lawyer who intentionally loses a case and is chased out of the courtroom by his enraged client, are inspired by actual events that happened to McCarey, who was once a criminal defense lawyer and was defending a wife-beater who chased him out of the courtroom and down the street.
During the period he was under contact at Hal Roach Studios between 1923 and 1929, McCarey supervised the production of about 300 comedy shorts including two-reelers of Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chase.
An automobile accident prevented McCarey from directing "My Favorite Wife," so producer McCarey handed off the director's reins to Garson Kanin.

Personal Quotes (9)

You can really call Irene Dunne 'The First Lady of Hollywood', because she's the first real lady Hollywood has ever seen.
[on accepting his Best Director Oscar for The Awful Truth (1937)] Thanks, but you gave it to me for the wrong picture.
I don't know what my formula is. I only know I like my characters to walk in clouds. I like a little bit of the fairy tale. Let others photograph the ugliness of the world. I don't want to distress people.
I love when people laugh. I love when they cry, I like a story to say something, and I hope the audience feels happier leaving the theatre than when it came in.
[on Cary Grant whom he directed in three films] I still don't know what makes him tick. Of the sixteen hours a day when he's awake I don't think there are twenty minutes when he is not complaining. I've never seen a man more constantly in turmoil.
I was a problem child, and problem children do the seemingly insane because they are trying to find out how to fit into the scheme of things.
[on Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy] [Laurel] was one of those rare comics intelligent enough to invent his own gags. Laurel was remarkably talented, while Hardy wasn't. This is the key to the Laurel-Hardy association. Throughout their lives (I was one of their intimates), Laurel insisted on earning twice as much as Hardy. He said he was twice as good and twice as important, that he wrote the film and participated in its creation, while Hardy was really incapable if creating anything at all -- it was astounding that he could even find his way to the studio.
People stimulate me, and I work along with them. Ideas come that never would have developed from a struggle with my own or some other writer's imagination. Besides, I never belonged to the school which holds that a director should stop thinking the moment he starts shooting.
[on Joan Collins]: I thought she was going to be a big star. At the start, she had no confidence in herself, but, little by little, she confided in me. I told her I'd only do this film with her if she'd send her psychoanalyst away and allow me to take over. I said, "If you want to stretch out on a couch, come over to mine." She laughed, but she did send the analyst away.

Salary (1)

The Cowboy and the Lady (1938) $25,000

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