Jerry Wald

Actor, Director


American producer Jerry Wald had been at New York University's School of Journalism a scant two years when he secured his first newspaper job. The 20-year-old Wald settled for a low-paying assignment with the "scandalous" tabloidThe New York Evening Graphic, virtually inventing a position for himself as the paper's radio columnist. This job brought him into close contact with the major radio personalities of the day, which in turn led to his scripting a series of Vitaphone two-reelers, shot in Flatbush and starring several luminaries of the airwaves. Warners' Hollywood studio hired Wald as a screenwriter in 1933; within a decade, he was a producer. Still a very young man, Wald was the archetypal "boy wonder:" brilliant, prolific, ambitious, ruthless. Among his many Warners producing assignments were several Bogart pictures (All Through the Night [1942], Action in the North Atlantic [1943], Treasure of the Sierra Madre [1947]) and the Joan Crawford "comeback" films Mildred Pierce (1945) and Humoresque (1946). He left Warners for a brief stay at RKO in 1951-52; then from 1953 through 1956, Wald was vice-president in charge of production at Columbia Pictures. In 1956, Wald set up his own production unit, utilizing the facilities and distribution exchanges of 20th Century-Fox. He launched his independent career with the 1957 moneyspinner Peyton Place. While both Fox and Wald went through a period of deterioration in the early '60s, Wald performed one last great act of executive intuition by hiring Franklin Schaffner to direct 1963's The Stripper; it would be Schaffner's future projects Planet of the Apes (1968) and Patton (1970) that would help keep the studio solvent at the end of the decade. By that time, however, Jerry Wald was both figuratively and literally out of the picture; he died after a brief illness in the summer of 1962, two months short of his 50th birthday.

Filmography Awards