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Michael Todd Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (14) | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 22 June 1909Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Date of Death 22 March 1958Grants, New Mexico, USA  (plane crash)
Birth NameAvrom Hirsch Goldbogen
Nickname Mike Todd

Mini Bio (1)

Film producer Michael Todd was one of the major contributors to technical innovation in the film industry in the 1950s. Having worked with Fred Waller and Cinerama, he got tired of the three-panel format, left the company and tried to find the process for making "Cinerama coming from one hole". He joined forces with the American Optical Co. and developed a system using 65mm cine cameras at 30 fps and wide angle-photography (approx 150 degrees). The system was named Todd-AO after its inventors and was by far the best big-screen system ever seen, when it was introduced with Oklahoma! (1955). The Todd-AO prints used 70mm film with a 2.2:1 ratio. Sound was six-track magnetic only, with five channels behind the screen and one surround channel, with Perspecta coding (a switch stereo device) The 70mm Todd-AO productions were premiered through Magna Theatre Corp., which also co-produced the pictures. Due to the non-standard speed, the first two Todd-AO pictures (the other was Around the World in Eighty Days (1956)) were parallel-shot in 35mm CinemaScope with 24 fps for general release, but for the third production, South Pacific (1958), the Todd-AO pictures were all shot in 24 fps. Todd was killed in a plane crash in 1958, but his system lived on, adopted as the wide superformat of 20th Century-Fox, which used it all through the 1960s. During that period a number of alternate processes developed, of which Superpanavision became the most used.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Stefan Adler

Spouse (3)

Elizabeth Taylor (2 February 1957 - 22 March 1958) (his death) (1 child)
Joan Blondell (4 July 1947 - 8 June 1950) (divorced)
Bertha Freshman (14 February 1927 - 3 August 1946) (her death) (1 child)

Trivia (14)

Co-developed the Todd A-O sound system.
Father of Michael Todd Jr.
Todd had previously (1946) produced an elaborate Broadway musical version of "Around the World in 80 Days." Despite mammoth production values, a Cole Porter score and a cast headed by Orson Welles as Phineas Fogg, it was a notorious, costly failure, losing nearly all of the money invested in it.
Father, with Elizabeth Taylor, of daughter Liza Todd Burton.
Killed, along with journalist Art Cohn, when his private plane went down in a blizzard just outside of Albequerque, New Mexico. The plane's ironic name was "The Lucky Liz".
In 1957, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of his Oscar-winning film Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), Todd staged an elaborate party at Madison Square Garden for his then-wife Elizabeth Taylor and hundreds of guests. The evening eventually deteriorated into a giant food fight. The party was treated as a serious news event by CBS, which sent Walter Cronkite to cover it. The next day newspaper critics tore the event to shreds. It became what Cronkite considers the low point in his career.
He was preparing a lavish film version of "Don Quixote" at the time of his death. Todd's version was never made.
The biography "The Nine Lives of Mike Todd" reveals that he briefly was suspected of murdering his first wife Bertha, who died mysteriously in 1946, freeing the way for Todd to marry his mistress, Joan Blondell. Blondell later claimed that Todd fleeced her.
His biographer, Art Cohn, died with him in the plane crash that took Todd's life. The biography was nearly finished and was completed by Cohn's wife and published as "The Nine Lives of Mike Todd" in 1958.
In the 1940s, stripper Gypsy Rose Lee fell in love with Todd, who was then famous as a Broadway theatrical impresario. Todd produced two Broadway shows starring Lee, "Star and Garter" and "The Naked Genius" (the latter of which was written by Lee). Gypsy married William Alexander Kirkland in 1942 in an attempt to make the already-married Todd jealous. They divorced in 1944.
His penultimate show was entitled "Michael Todd's Peep Show", running at the Winter Garden Theatre, from June 28, 1950 to February 24, 1951, for a total of 278 performances. The music and lyrics for this musical revue, which featured female nudity, were by 'Prince Chakrband Bhumibol', who became the King of Thailand! In Art Cohn's posthumous biography of Todd, "The Nine Lives of Mike Todd", it is revealed that the naked girls featured in the show's mermaid sequence had difficulty getting the blue dye, used in the water, out of their pubic hair.
Todd twice went bankrupt, once when he filed for bankruptcy for over $1 million as a young man and his construction business (which specialized in soundproofing Hollywood sound-stages, among other lines of business) folded during the Great Depression, and the second time around 1950, when his huge gambling losses and massive debts linked to his lavish lifestyle overwhelmed him. He remained ensconced in a splendid Hudson Valley estate in Tarrytown, New York with his second wife Joan Blondell, living the high life and spending like a pasha, as his second bankruptcy suit wound its way through the federal court system. When creditors' objections threatened to land him in jail due to apparent fraud (Todd had destroyed evidence of his gambling debts so as not to implicate his friends), Todd withdrew the suit and agreed to pay back his creditors. Subsequently, Todd owned over three-quarters of the gross profits of Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), a spectacular that racked up over $20 million in rentals in its first release (approximately $135 million in 2005 terms), a huge sum for the time exceeded by very few films. Despite the fact that he was again rich, and richer than ever (worth about $7-8 million at the time of his death, or about $50 million in 2005 terms), many observers at the time predicted that the profligate Todd would manage to bankrupt himself a third time. He never got the chance, dying in a plane crash in 1958. His widow, Elizabeth Taylor, still owns his share of the Oscar-winning film.
He had committed himself to provide financial backing for Laurence Olivier's most cherished project, a film of William Shakespeare's "Macbeth", shortly before his fatal plane crash. But after Todd's death, the funding didn't come through and Olivier was forced to abandon the project.
Todd's premature death wiped out his plans for two future films: "Don Quixote" and "The Man Who Would Be King.".

Personal Quotes (1)

I've never been poor, only broke. Being poor is a frame of mind. Being broke is only a temporary situation.

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