William McGann

Active - 1919 - 1951  |   Born - Apr 5, 1895   |   Died - Nov 15, 1977   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Crime, Romance, Western

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Biography by Hal Erickson

University of Berkeley graduate William H. McGann entered the film industry as an assistant cameraman after serving in much the same capacity during World War I. McGann was promoted to director of photography by Douglas Fairbanks; he lensed such popular Fairbanks vehicles as When the Clouds Roll By (1919) and The Mark of Zorro (1920), then briefly worked for Buster Keaton on The Three Ages (1923). He began his directorial career in 1930, helming Spanish-language versions of American films. After a short stay in England, he returned to Hollywood, where he became a stalwart of Warner Bros.' "B"-picture unit. He went on to direct programmers for RKO, Paramount, and finally Harry Sherman Productions. William H. McGann's most frequently exhibited effort was the curious all-star 2-reeler The Stolen Jools (1931), a fund-raising short produced on behalf of the National Variety Artists' tuberculosis sanitarium; for the first and last time in his career, McGann had the opportunity to direct virtually every big name in Hollywood, from Norma Shearer to Laurel & Hardy, in one fell swoop.

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