Le Roy, Mervyn

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LE ROY, MERVYN (1900–1987), film producer and director. Born in San Francisco, California, Le Roy and his father physically survived the city's earthquake and fire of 1906 but were financially ruined. To earn money, the young Le Roy sold newspapers and entertained in vaudeville. He then moved to Hollywood, where his cousin film producer Jesse *Lasky helped him break into the industry. Le Roy worked in costumes, then as a cameraman, gag writer, and part-time silent film actor before directing his first film, No Place to Go, in 1927. From then on, he began to direct enjoyable and, consequently, profitable films. Nicknamed "The Boy Wonder," Le Roy's motto was "Good stories make good movies." His feel for what the audience wanted extended to actors as well, and he was responsible for "discovering" such legendary movie stars as Clark Gable, Robert Mitchum, Lana Turner, and Loretta Young. He also is credited with having introduced actor Ronald Reagan to actress Nancy Davis, who were destined to become the president and first lady of the United States.

A prominent Hollywood figure for more than 40 years, Le Roy alternated between dramas, comedies, and musicals. The list of more than 75 films that he directed includes Little Caesar (1931), Three on a Match (1932), I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932), Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), Anthony Ad-verse (1936), They Won't Forget (1937), Blossoms in the Dust (1941), Random Harvest (Oscar nomination for Best Director 1942), Madame Curie (1943), Thirty Seconds over Tokyo (1944), Little Women (1949), East Side, West Side (1949), Quo Vadis? (1951), Rose Marie (1954), Mister Roberts (1955), The Bad Seed (1956), No Time for Sergeants (also produced, 1958), Wake Me When It's Over (1960), A Majority of One (1961), Gypsy (1962), and Moment to Moment (1965). Some of these he produced as well and among those he produced but did not direct are The Wizard of Oz (Oscar nomination for Best Picture, 1939) and At the Circus (1939). In 1976 he received the Irving G. Thalberg Award, which is bestowed on "a creative producer who has been responsible for a consistently high quality of motion picture production." He was active in Republican politics. Le Roy's autobiography is entitled Mervyn Le Roy: Take One (1974).

[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]