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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 24 February 1896Hutchinson, Kansas, USA
Date of Death 1 May 1991Palm Springs, California, USA
Birth NameRollo Smolt Thorpe
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

After working in vaudeville, on the stage and in early movies, Richard Thorpe launched his directing career in 1923. After directing dozens of low-budget comedies and westerns, his talents were recognized in the mid-'30s when he went to work for MGM. Studio honcho Louis B. Mayer valued efficiency in his directors, and Thorpe prided himself in bringing a production in under budget, which would be key to his remarkable longevity in Hollywood. He had no particular style, directing mechanically on the premise of keeping the camera rolling until an actor blew a line (or a scene suffered a mechanical malfunction) and then going back and completing it with a close-up or reaction shot. Mechanical or not, his technique worked. Though he never directed any blockbusters, he was solid and dependable, directing hundreds of movies of all genres for over four decades. He retired in 1967.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net> (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)

Spouse (1)

Belva McKay (? - ?) (1 son)

Trivia (3)

Father of Jerry Thorpe
Thorpe was a favorite at MGM because he always came in under production schedule. He'd often start with a long shot and keep filming until one of the actors fluffed. Then he'd move in a closer setup and shoot until the next hold-up and so on until he finished with just close-ups. He very rarely reshot anything (from Freddie Young's autobiography, "Seventy Light Years").
Uncredited director of the Roman galley scenes in Ben-Hur (1959).

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