Darryl Francis Zanuck
Date of birth : September 5, 1902, Wahoo, Nebraska.
Date of death : December 22, 1979, Palm Springs, California.
He was buried at the Westwood Memorial Park.
Practise : director of production at the Warner Bros.
co-founder of the Fox in 1935; director of production until 1956.
1956 : he resigned from the Fox and became independent producer in Europe.
1962 : he became again director of production at the Fox until beginning of 1970.
After having gone on many jobs, he started in the movie industry as screenwriter.
From 1923 to 1933 he was screenwriter at the Warner and known his first success by creating the concept of the TV serie "Rin-tin-tin" (1920).
He proceeded to production and was the head of the production at the Warner Brothers hardly aged 23 (1925).
In 1933, he founded the Twentieth Century Film with Joe Schenck ;
In 1935 he made the studio merge with the Fox, at that time, in a bad patch. The Twentieth Century Fox was born.
In addition to his decision-maker position in
terms of production, he personally produced more than 150 movies
during his long career : "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940), "How Green Was
My Valley" (1942), "Gentleman's Agreement" (1947), "All About Eve"
(1950). Under his leadership, the Fox reaped more than 33 Academy Awards.
He had the reputation to treat the human beings with the same implacable authority than the one he exerted on dogs. As many directors of production whose good will could make or undo a career, he was strict in working, but he allowed himself many eccentricities in his personal life.
He met Marilyn at his home in Palm Springs, where she came with Joe Schenck.
Every biographers emphasized his constant skepticism about Marilyn's talent; he was skeptical when the Fox engaged her, and remained in the same position even after she had had an eminent part in 1953, thanks to the big commercial success of "Niagara", "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and "How to Marry a Millionaire?".
One of the reasons was that Marilyn wasn't "his" protégé; her benefactors at the Fox were Joe Schenck and
In 1946 he produced the movie about anti-Semitism "Gentlemen's Agreement", directed by Elia Kazan.
Zanuck supervised the screenplays, the budgets, the distribution and the film editing of about 50 movies a year, he also gave his agreement for each new contract signed by the firm.
He saw Marilyn's first screen-test, shot in July 1946 by Ben Lyon. He wasn't convinced at all by Marilyn but gave in to Ben Lyon's enthusiasm, in charge of the recruitement, and to Leon Shamroy, director of photography. She signed her first contract on August 26, 1946.
When her one-year contract ended, she tried to get hold of him but didn't manage to.In 1946, in his Palm Springs property, croquet tournament with many stars ().
Two years passed before Johnny Hyde managed to restore the contact with the Fox. Marilyn's appearance in "The Asphalt Jungle" (1950) offered her a 6-months contract which was stretched to 7 years, until May 1951.
In spite of Schenck and Skouras requests, Zanuck refused to confide her a big part, despite her success at each of her appearances.
She appeared in half dozen movies, with insignificant parts. Before distributing her in a big part, Zanuck lent her to the
She appeared in half dozen movies, with insignificant parts. Before distributing her in a big part, Zanuck lent her to theRKO for a supporting role in "Clash by Night" (1952). Then, he ended to take the first step by giving her the leading role of "Don't Bother to Knock" (1952).
The following movie given to her, "Niagara" (1953) confirmed her as a first level movie star. But if she seemed not to "touch" him, he couldn't ignore the effect she had on other people, particularly the other heads of the studios.He made her play the diaphanous blondes in every productions of the Fox : "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (1963), "How to Marry a Millionaire?" (1953), "River of No Return" (1954) and "There's No Business Like Show Business" (1954).
On April 7, 1953, he attended the birthday party of Walter Winchell, which Marilyn attended too :
She started to rebel against the severe terms of her contract, her lack of power on her roles and the meagre sum she earned compared with the other stars.
She came back in Hollywood to shot "Bus Stop" in February 1956.
InMarch 1956 Zanuck resigned from his position at the Fox and went to live in Europe.
However, he signed an agreement with the Fox through which the studio would release the movies he would produced as independent.
In 1962 he was called back to the head of the Fox as president, just in time to make sure that Marilyn was re-engaged on "Something's Got to Give". He managed to avoid a bankruptcy and installed his son Richard, as
His reign ended in 1975, when he was supplanted at his position, last tycoon of the old school to overcome :
Interview by Hedda Hopper