HOWARD HAWKS Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Name: Howard Winchester Hawks                                                             
Born: 30 May 1896 Goshen, Indiana, U.S.                                                   
Died: 26 December 1977 Palm Springs, California, U.S.                                     
Howard Winchester Hawks (May 30, 1896 – December 26, 1977) was an American film         
director, producer and writer of the classic Hollywood era. He died in Palm               
Springs, California, after a fall.                                                         
Born in Goshen, Indiana, Howard was the first-born child of Frank W. Hawks and             
the former Helen Howard. After the birth of Howard's first brother, Kenneth Neil           
Hawks, on August 12, 1899, the family moved to Neenah, Wisconsin. Shortly                 
afterwards they moved again, to Southern California.                                       
Hawks attended high school in Glendora, and then moved to New Hampshire to                 
attend Phillips Exeter Academy from 1912-1914. After graduation, Hawks moved on           
to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where he majored in mechanical engineering.           
During the summers of 1916 and 1917, Howard worked on some early movies,                   
interning for the Famous Players-Lasky Studio. After graduation he joined the             
United States Army Air Service during World War I.                                         
After the war, he worked at a number of jobs: race-car driver, aviator, designer           
in an aircraft factory. By 1924 he had moved back to Hollywood and joined the             
movie industry. He chummed with the barn stormers and pioneer aviators at Rogers           
Airport in Los Angeles, getting to know men like Moye Stephens. Hawks wrote his           
first screenplay, Tiger Love, in 1924 and he directed his first film, The Road             
to Glory, in 1925. Hawks reworked the scripts of most of the films he directed             
but without taking official credit for his writing.                                       
Howard Hawks directed a total of eight silent films, including Fazil in 1928.             
Unlike some of his fellow silent-film directors, he was able to make the                   
transition to sound without difficulty, and his most important films were all             
done with the spoken word. .                                                               
Hawks was known for his versatility as a director, filming comedies, dramas,               
gangster films, science fiction, film noir, and Westerns with equal ease and               
skill. Hawks' own functional definition of what constitutes a "good movie" is             
revealing of his no-nonsense style: "Three great scenes, no bad ones."                     
Hawks was in many ways ahead of his time. While not politically feminist or               
sympathetic to their goals, he popularized the Hawksian woman archetype, which             
could be considered a prototype of the modern post-feminist movement. At the               
same time, Hawks was known to make anti-semitic comments, including in front of           
Jewish actress Lauren Bacall, who kept her Jewish identity a secret from Hawks             
and who did not call him on his hateful comments, both of which she has said she           
regrets now.                                                                               
Critic Leonard Maltin has labeled Hawks "the greatest American director who is             
not a household name," noting that, while his work may not be as well known as             
Ford, Welles, or Hitchcock, he is no less a talented filmmaker.                           
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Howard Hawks has a star on           
the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1708 Vine Street.                                           
Hawks once defined a good director as "someone who doesn't annoy you".                     
His unpretentious and straightforward directorial style and the use of natural,           
conversational dialogue in his films have subsequently been a major influence on           
many noted filmmakers, including Robert Altman, John Carpenter, and Quentin               
Tarantino. He was nominated for Best Director in 1942 for Sergeant York, but he           
received his only Oscar in 1975 as an Honorary Award from the Academy.                     
Although originally dismissed by the more intellectual critics in the English-speaking     
world (especially in the United Kingdom, where his work was virtually ignored by           
Sight and Sound), Hawks was idolised and taken very seriously indeed by the               
French critics associated with Cahiers du Cinéma in the 1950s, and this spread           
to the United Kingdom where Hawks became an icon for Ian Cameron, Robin Wood and           
the other critics associated with Movie magazine.                                         
Hawks was married three times, to Athole Shearer (a sister of movie actress               
Norma Shearer), Nancy Gross (later and better known as Slim Keith, she was the             
mother of his daughter, Kitty Hawks, a noted interior designer), and Dee                   
Hartford (an actress whose real name was Donna Higgins). His brothers were                 
director/writer Kenneth Neil Hawks and film producer William Bettingger Hawks.