Elliott Nugent

Active - 1929 - 1952  |   Born - Sep 20, 1899   |   Died - Aug 9, 1980   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Romance

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The son of American actor/producer/playwright J.C. Nugent, Elliott Nugent began walking in his dad's mocassins from childhood. Elliott appeared with his parents and his sister Ruth in vaudeville, taking time off for his college career at Ohio State University, where he befriended future humorist James Thurber. Making his Broadway debut in the 1921 George S. Kaufman/Marc Connelly play Dulcy, Nugent followed this personal triumph with the 1922 production Kempy, which he co-authored with his father J.C. Ten more Elliott/J.C. Nugent collaborations followed throughout the '20s; Elliott capped the decade by making his film bow in 1929's So This is College, with his old friend Robert Montgomery. In the first few years of talking pictures, Nugent showed up in intriguing juvenile roles: He was wrongly accused of murder in Lon Chaney Sr.'s The Unholy Three (1930), and tooled around Paris ingesting mysterious "controlled substance" pills in The Last Flight (1931). He tired of film acting in the early '30s and decided to concentrate on writing and directing, though he'd occasionally play cameo roles in the films he directed (e.g. Welcome Stranger [1947]). Preferring to make comedies, Nugent became one of Bob Hope's favorite directors, and also guided Danny Kaye through his feature film debut, Up in Arms (1944); he got along less well with "control freak" Harold Lloyd, whom he directed in Professor Beware (1938). On the Broadway stage, Nugent continued his acting career throughout the '30s; he starred in 1940's The Male Animal, which he co-wrote with college chum James Thurber and which he'd direct for the movies in 1942, with Henry Fonda in the lead. Retiring in 1957, Elliott Nugent spent his last years with his wife Norma Lee in their posh Manhattan apartment; in 1965, he wrote a frank, no-holds-barred autobiography, Events Leading Up to the Comedy.

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