Gregory La Cava

Active - 1919 - 1950  |   Born - Mar 10, 1892   |   Died - Jan 1, 1952   |   Genres - Comedy, Romance, Drama

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

Although former cartoonist Gregory La Cava's comedies earned him a notable reputation behind the camera, he also crafted remarkable dramas like Gabriel Over the White House (1933) and The Affairs of Cellini (1934), both testaments to the director's largely underappreciated diversity. La Cava was born in Towanda, PA, in 1892, and his early work with Woody Woodpecker creator Walter Lantz on The Katzenjammer Kids and Mutt and Jeff caught the attention of the Hearst Corp. Subsequently hired as the editor-in-chief for the company's International Comic Films division, La Cava served as the producer/director of such animated shorts as 20,000 Legs Under the Sea (1917) and How Could William Tell? (1919). After making more than 100 successful animated shorts, La Cava graduated to live-action films with a series of successful comedy shorts. A few short years later, he was directing such luminaries as Doris Kenyon, Richard Dix, and W.C. Fields in feature films. He put his name on the map with Womanhandled (1925), So's Your Old Man (1926), and Feel My Pulse (1928), and the advent of sound found La Cava segueing to drama with The Age of Consent (1932) and Private Worlds (1935). The director never truly abandoned the genre on which his career was founded, and, in 1936, he paired William Powell and Carole Lombard for the enduring 1936 comedy My Man Godfrey (the first film to receive four acting nominations at the Academy Awards). Quickly following with the memorable drama Stage Door 1937, La Cava was at the peak of his career when he received Best Director nominations from the Academy for both features. By this point, he had earned something of reputation as an actor's director, and though he continued working behind the camera throughout the '40s, his output ceased following uncredited work on 1948's One Touch of Venus. La Cava died of a heart attack four years later in Malibu, CA.

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