Mervyn LeRoy

Actor, Director

1900-1987

Mervyn LeRoy became a child actor at age 12 and entered vaudeville in 1915 after winning a contest as a Chaplin imitator. He joined Famous Players-Lasky as an assistant cameraman and gag writer during the '20s, as well as appearing as an actor in several films, but when the performing side dried up for LeRoy, he turned his attention fully to the business and technical side of filmmaking. He co-scripted the successful 1926 film Ella Cinders, and graduated to the director's chair the following year with No Place to Go. His major breakthrough as a filmmaker took place in 1930 with Little Caesar, a gangster film that started a decade-long cycle of crime pictures at Warner Bros. During the next seven years, he was responsible for several of the studio's most successful and celebrated movies, including I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Gold Diggers of 1933, and Tugboat Annie. He began producing in 1937, but a dispute with the studio brought LeRoy to MGM in 1938, where his most notable films as a producer and/or director were The Wizard of Oz and Waterloo Bridge, as well as Random Harvest, which got him his only Academy Award nomination. His Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo was one of the biggest hits of the war, and LeRoy also won a special Academy Award for a short film that he directed, The House I Live In, starring Frank Sinatra, in 1945. LeRoy didn't do another notable film until the Roman costume epic Quo Vadis in 1951, a project he inherited from John Huston, and the wartime drama Mr. Roberts, which he took over from John Ford. His later movies, including The Bad Seed, No Time for Sergeants, Gypsy, and Moment to Moment showed a mixed record of success. He received the Irving Thalberg Life Achievement Award in 1975.

Filmography Awards