Thalberg, Irving

▪ American motion-picture executive
in full  Irving Grant Thalberg 
born May 30, 1899, Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.
died September 14, 1936, Santa Monica, Calif.

      American film executive called the “boy wonder of Hollywood” who, as the production manager of MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.), was largely responsible for that studio's prestigious reputation.

      Born of German immigrant parents, Thalberg suffered from a weak heart and was plagued with health problems all his life. Told by doctors he wouldn't live past 30, the frail but highly intelligent and ambitious Thalberg lived and worked with an extraordinary intensity. He graduated from high school and worked for two years in the New York offices of Universal Pictures before going to Hollywood as the secretary to the company president, Carl Laemmle. At age 21 Thalberg became Universal's studio manager.

      When MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.) was formed four years later, he was hired as the head of production with full authority to reedit any film. He shrewdly ascertained public taste and tightly controlled the studio's output by supervising the selection of scripts, their revision, and the final editing of the films. The literary flavour of MGM's products, e.g., The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Romeo and Juliet (1936), and Camille (1937), stemmed mainly from Thalberg's influence. With Naughty Marietta (1935) he initiated a long series of successful musicals starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. About the same time, he helped revive the Marx Brothers' careers by producing two of their best comedies, A Night at the Opera (1935) and A Day at the Races (1937). Thalberg also acted as a liaison between the businessmen who controlled MGM's finances and the studio's directors. He supported the star system and discovered and developed many of MGM's popular screen personalities, including his wife, actress Norma Shearer (Shearer, Norma), whose career Thalberg directed.

      Though he was a polite boss who commanded great respect throughout Hollywood, Thalberg was at the same time a driven businessman and a tough taskmaster. He had famous clashes with studio moguls Lammele, Louis B. Mayer (Mayer, Louis B), and Sam Goldwyn (Goldwyn, Samuel) and with director Erich von Stroheim (Stroheim, Erich von). Some have claimed that the autocratic hero of F. Scott Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald, F. Scott)'s final novel The Last Tycoon was based on Thalberg. Quoted as saying “Credit you give yourself is not worth having,” the modest Thalberg would not allow his name to appear on any of the films he produced. After his sudden death from pneumonia at age 37, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, of which Thalberg was a founder, established the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, given for excellence in production.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Thalberg, Irving — (1899 1936)    American flim producer. Born in Brooklyn, he became assistant manager of an export company. Later he became secretary to Carl Laemmle, founder of Universal Pictures and went to California. He subsequentiy became production chief… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • THALBERG, IRVING GRANT — (1899–1936), U.S. film producer and executive. Born in New York, Thalberg joined Universal Pictures soon after leaving high school and was the studio s general manager at 24, when he produced The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923). A year later he… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Thalberg, Irving G(rant) — born May 30, 1899, Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S. died Sept. 14, 1936, Santa Monica, Calif. U.S. film executive. He suffered from health problems at a young age, and fearing his life would not be a long one, he threw himself into his career, joining… …   Universalium

  • Thalberg, Irving G(rant) — (30 may. 1899, Brooklyn, N.Y., EE.UU.–14 sep. 1936, Santa Mónica, Cal.). Ejecutivo cinematográfico estadounidense. De niño sufrió problemas de salud, y temiendo una corta vida finalizó su educación secundaria y se entregó por completo a trabajar …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Thalberg, Irving Grant — (1899–1936)    US film producer. The production chief for Metro Goldwyn Mayer, New York born Thalberg was responsible for a number of celebrated films, including Ben Hur (1926), The Barretts of Wim pole Street (1934), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Thalberg,Irving Grant — Thal·berg (thôlʹbŭrg , thŏlʹ ), Irving Grant. 1899 1936. American film producer. By age 25 he had become vice president of Metro Goldwyn Mayer, where he supervised production for such classic films as The Big Parade (1925) and Mutiny on the… …   Universalium

  • Irving Thalberg — en 1929 Nombre real Irving Grant Thalberg Nacimiento 30 de mayo de 1899 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Thalberg — is a surname of Germanic origin; it can be literally translated as town [in the] valley :* Sigismond Thalberg * Irving Grant Thalberg * Irving Thalberg Jr. * The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award …   Wikipedia

  • Thalberg — bezeichnet Personen: Sigismund Thalberg (1812 1871), österreichischer Pianist und Komponist Irving Thalberg (1899 1936), US amerikanischer Filmproduzent Orte: Thalberg (Altentreptow), Ortsteil der Stadt Altentreptow, Landkreis Mecklenburgische… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Irving Thalberg — [Irving Thalberg] (1899–1936) a US ↑businessman who became head of film production at ↑Universal Pictures at the age of 20 and then at ↑MGM when he was 25. He was known as the ‘boy wonder’. He produced such films as ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

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