George Cukor

Active - 1930 - 1981  |   Born - Jul 7, 1899 in New York, New York, United States  |   Died - Jan 24, 1983   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Romance

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Biography by AllMovie

A successful stage director in New York by the late 1920s, George Cukor began working in Hollywood as a dialogue director and filling other uncredited crew roles on such films as All Quiet on the Western Front. In 1930, he co-directed his first features: Grumpy with Cyril Gardner, The Virtuous Sin with Louis Gasnier, and The Royal Family of Broadway with Gardner; Cukor had his solo debut the following year, directing Tallulah Bankhead in Tarnished Lady. For the next fifty years, he showed a flair for bringing out the best in actors, particularly women, although that specialty could occassionally work against him, as when he was removed from the production of Gone With the Wind at the insistence of Clark Gable. But it defined his best work, starting in 1932 with Katharine Hepburn's first film, A Bill of Divorcement. Cukor also directed her idiosyncratic '30s performances in Little Women, Sylvia Scarlett, and Holiday. In that same decade, he also made the all-star comedies Dinner at Eight and The Women; the prestigious adaptations David Copperfield and Romeo and Juliet; and Greta Garbo's iconic Camille. He made the award-winning dramas Gaslight and A Double Life during the '40s, as well as the classic comedies The Philadelphia Story and Adam's Rib. Comedy remained his forte in the '50s with Born Yesterday and Pat and Mike. One of Cukor's finest films was the 1954 musical A Star Is Born with Judy Garland and James Mason (despite its having been cut to ribbons by the studio). Another musical was also his biggest hit of the '60s: My Fair Lady. He reunited with Katharine Hepburn in the '70s for the television films Love Among the Ruins and The Corn Is Green. Cukor died in 1983.

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  • First became fascinated with theater as a boy when his mother dressed up and entertained party guests at home. Began his professional career as stage manager and Broadway director before heading to Hollywood in 1929 to work as a dialogue coach. Because of his inspired work with actresses, he was considered a "woman's director," a description he didn't relish out of concern that it suggested his films were less serious and that it was code for his being gay. After preproduction, he was fired as director of Gone With the Wind by producer David O. Selznick, primarily due to the demands and discomfort of Clark Gable. At age 43, enlisted in the Army Signal Corps during World War II to direct training films; was honorably discharged a year later.