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Jack Conway Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (11)

Overview (3)

Born in Graceville, Minnesota, USA
Died in Pacific Palisades, California, USA  (pulmonary disease)
Birth NameHugh Ryan Conway

Mini Bio (1)

Born Hugh Ryan Conway of Irish ancestry, Jack Conway 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 favor 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 filmmakers who would jeopardize the "studio look", Thalberg and MGM chief Louis B. Mayer hoped to prevent such budgetary excesses as had been perpetrated by directors like Erich von Stroheim during the 1920s. Conway contented himself with working under 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. He 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 utilized 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 (11)

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 MGM, Alias Jimmy Valentine (1928).
Survived by his widow, Virginia Bushman, and sons Pat Conway and Michael and daughter Mrs. Rosemary Foster, who were at his bedside when he died.
Along with Ernst Lubitsch, Michael Curtiz, Victor Fleming, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Sam Wood, Francis Ford Coppola, Herbert Ross and Steven Soderbergh, he is one of ten directors to have more than one film nominated for Best Picture in the same year. A Tale of Two Cities (1935) and Libeled Lady (1936) were both so nominated at the 9th Academy Award in 1937.
Directed four Oscar Best Picture nominees: Viva Villa! (1934), A Tale of Two Cities (1935), Libeled Lady (1936) and A Star Is Born (1937) (uncredited).

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