George Cukor – A talented motion picture director whose career spanned over 50 years of filmmaking working with the industry’s brightest actors and actresses. Known for his attention to detail and skilled direction, his eyes had been set on the entertainment industry since childhood.
He was fast friends with the likes of Katherine Hepburn and responsible for major changes to character images in films such as The Wizard of Oz (though he was never formally credited for directing). He was also another revered guest at our very own Villa Carlotta.
Cukor was born in 1899 in Lower East Side, Manhattan to Hungarian-Jewish immigrants. His father was a district attorney, a career choice the young Cukor was supposed to pursue as well. But he had his eye on the theater. As a child, he took dance lessons and even performed in a recital with David O. Selznick who later became a legendary Hollywood producer. Cukor would frequent the New York Hippodrome, a popular Manhattan theater, and would regularly cut class during his senior year for matinees instead. It is no wonder that he left college early to pursue other interests.
After finishing high school, Cukor became an assistant stage manager for a touring production of a British musical “The Better Ole.” By 1920, he became the stage manager for the Knickerbocker Players and in 1925 he formed his own company –C.F. and Z Production Company. Cukor was off and running. Hollywood began recruiting New York talent for films and Cukor was eager to take the chance. He was hired by Paramount in 1928 and co-directed three films by 1930, after which he was granted his first solo directorial credit in 1931 with Tarnished Lady. He later left Paramount after not receiving directorial credit for a film and joined his old friend and now producer, David O. Selznick with RKO. He made his first box office success with Little Women in 1933, earning him his first Academy Award nomination.
Though he worked with and directed male actors, Cukor was known for his direction of actresses and his capability to elevate their performances and was sometimes referred to as a “women’s director” – to his disliking. Cukor continued to ride the highs and lows of Hollywood filmmaking and his career earned him several Academy nominations. His last film, Rich and Famous was made in 1981, a year before his retirement and two years before his death.
For more information on Villa Carlotta’s storied history and its legendary guests, visit www.villacarlottala.com or call 213. 320. 5951. We welcome you to become part of our legendary story.