Frederick de Cordova

Active - 1945 - 1983  |   Born - Oct 27, 1910   |   Died - Sep 15, 2001   |   Genres - Comedy, Romance, Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Entering films as a dialogue director in 1944, American director Frederick De Cordova quickly established himself as a man who made films quickly, inexpensively and entertainingly. A cursory glance at the list of De Cordova's films would lead one to believe he was handed all the unworkable projects in Hollywood and told to make them sparkle. In Universal's The Desert Hawk (1950), DeCordova had to direct Rock Hudson as a villain, Jackie Gleason as Aladdin and Joe Besser as Sinbad. The result was one of the better films of this singular genre. In Here Come the Nelsons (1952) DeCordova was expected to make viable movie stars of Ozzie, Harriet, David and Ricky; he did it. And in the immortal Bedtime for Bonzo (1951), DeCordova took the potentially disastrous combination of Ronald Reagan and a trained chimp and came up with a delightful, wholly credible heredity/environment comedy. As a TV director, De Cordova had some of the most capricious and contrary personalities in the business eating out of his hand. He managed to wrangle an apology from a temporarily temperamental George Burns, weathered a dark mood from Jack Benny by simply matching Benny's long silences, and survived nearly two decades with the virtually unapproachable Johnny Carson. Only when handling Ida Lupino and Howard Duff in the '50s TV series Mr. Adams and Eve was De Cordova unable to maintain a peaceful set; even here, however, the end result suggested that all was sunshine through the shooting schedule. In 1988, De Cordova wrote his autobiography, a masterpiece of diplomacy titled Johnny Came Lately. In the 1990s Fred De Cordova continues to be very active as a TV director.

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