DAVID O. SELZNICK Biography - Bussiness people and enterpreneurs


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Name: David O. Selznick                                                               
Birth name: David Selznick                                                             
Born: 10 May 1902 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania                                             
Died: 22 June 1965 Hollywood, Los Angeles, California                                 
David O. Selznick (May 10, 1902 - June 22, 1965), was one of the iconic Hollywood     
producers of the Golden Age. He is best known for producing the epic blockbuster       
Gone with the Wind (1939) which earned him an Oscar for Best Picture. Not only         
did Gone with the Wind gross the highest amount of money at the box office of         
any film ever (adjusted for inflation), but it also won seven additional Oscars       
and two special awards. Selznick also won the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award       
that same year. He would make film history by winning the Best Picture Oscar a         
second year in a row for Rebecca (1940).                                               
Selznick was born to a Jewish family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of           
silent movie distributor Lewis J. Selznick and Florence A. (Sachs) Selznick.           
David O. Selznick's real name was simply David Selznick. It is sometimes claimed       
that the "O" stands for Oliver, but, in fact, the initial was an invention of         
his. The book Memo from David O. Selznick starts with this autobiographical           
I have no middle name. I briefly used my mother's maiden name, Sachs. I had an         
uncle, whom I greatly disliked, who was also named David Selznick, so in order         
to avoid the growing confusion between the two of us, I decided to take a middle       
initial and went through the alphabet to find one that seemed to me to give the       
best punctuation, and decided on "O".                                                 
Alfred Hitchcock made subtle reference to this in North by Northwest (1959),           
where Cary Grant's character Roger Thornhill uses the monogram ROT and says the       
O stands for "nothing". He also dressed the antagonist of Rear Window to look         
like Selznick.                                                                         
He studied at Columbia University and worked as an apprentice in his father's         
company until his father went bankrupt in 1923. In 1926, Selznick moved to             
Hollywood and with his father's connections, got a job as an assistant story           
editor at MGM. He left MGM for Paramount Pictures in 1928, working there until         
1931 when he joined RKO as Head of Production. His years at RKO were fruitful         
and he guided many notable films there, including A Bill of Divorcement (1932),       
What Price Hollywood (1932) and King Kong (1933). While at RKO, he also gave           
George Cukor his big directing break. In 1933 he returned to MGM to establish a       
second prestige production unit to parallel that of Irving Thalberg who was in         
poor health. His blockbuster classics included Dinner at Eight (1933), David           
Copperfield (1935), Anna Karenina (1935) and A Tale of Two Cities (1935).             
Despite his successes at MGM, Paramount, and RKO, Selznick was restless. He           
longed to be an independent producer and establish his own studio. In 1935 he         
realized that goal by forming Selznick International Pictures and distributing         
his films through United Artists. His successes continued with classics such as       
The Garden of Allah (1936), The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), A Star Is Born (1937),       
Nothing Sacred (1937), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938), Made for Each Other       
(1939), Intermezzo (1939) and, of course, his magnum opus, Gone with the Wind (1939). 
Beginning with The Garden of Allah, Selznick became an early champion of the           
three-strip Technicolor process, using it in a number of his productions.             
In 1940, he produced his second Best Picture Oscar winner in a row, Rebecca, the       
first Hollywood production for British director Alfred Hitchcock. Selznick had         
brought Hitchcock over from England, launching the director's American career.         
Rebecca was Hitchcock's only film to win Best Picture.                                 
After Rebecca, Selznick closed Selznick International Pictures and took some           
time off. His business activities included loaning out to other studios for           
large profits the high-powered talent he had under contract including Hitchcock,       
Ingrid Bergman, Vivien Leigh and Joan Fontaine. He also developed film projects       
and sold the packages to other producers. In 1944 he returned to producing             
pictures with the huge success Since You Went Away, which he wrote. He followed       
that with the classic Spellbound (1945), as well as Portrait of Jennie (1948).         
In 1949, he co-produced the memorable Carol Reed picture The Third Man.               
After Gone with the Wind, Selznick spent the rest of his career trying to top         
that landmark achievement. The closest he came was with Duel in the Sun (1946)         
featuring future wife Jennifer Jones in the role of the primary character Pearl.       
With a huge budget, the film is renowned for its stellar cast, its sweeping           
cinematography and for causing all sorts of moral upheaval because of the then         
risqué script written by Selznick. And though it was a troublesome shoot with a       
number of directors, the film would turn out to be a major success. The film was       
the second highest grossing film of 1947 and turned out to be the first movie         
that Martin Scorsese would see, inspiring the director's career.                       
"I stopped making films in 1948 because I was tired," Selznick later wrote. "I         
had been producing, at the time, for twenty years . . . . Additionally it was         
crystal clear that the motion-picture business was in for a terrible beating           
from television and other new forms of entertainment, and I thought it a good         
time to take stock and to study objectively the obviously changing public tastes       
. . . . Certainly I had no intention of staying away from production for nine         
years." Selznick spent most of the 1950s obsessing about nurturing the career         
of his second wife Jennifer Jones. His last film, the big budget production A         
Farewell to Arms (1957) starring Jones and Rock Hudson, was ill received. But in       
1954, he ventured successfully into television, producing a two hour                   
extravaganza called Light's Diamond Jubilee, which, in true Selznick fashion,         
made TV history by being telecast simultaneously on all networks.                     
Selznick died in 1965 following several heart attacks, and was interred in the         
Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.