Irving Thalberg

Irving Thalberg

Infobox Actor
name =Irving Thalberg
birthname =Irving Grant Thalberg
birthdate =May 30, 1899
location =Brooklyn, New York, USA
deathdate = Death date and age|1936|9|14|1899|5|30
deathplace =Santa Monica, California, USA
yearsactive = 1921-1936
spouse =Norma Shearer (1927-1936)
academyawards = Best Picture
1929 "The Broadway Melody"
1932 "Grand Hotel"
1935 "Mutiny on the Bounty"
awards = Walk of Fame - Motion Picture
7000 Hollywood Blvd

Irving Grant Thalberg (May 30, 1899September 14, 1936) was an Academy Award-winning American film producer during the early years of motion pictures. He was called "The Boy Wonder" for his youth and his extraordinary ability to select the right scripts, choose the right actors, gather the best production staff, and make very profitable films.


Thalberg was born in Brooklyn, New York to German Jewish immigrant parents. He had a bad heart and was plagued with other ailments all his life. Upon completing high school, he was employed by Universal Pictures' New York office, where he worked as personal secretary to legendary studio founder Carl Laemmle, the boss of Universal Studios. Irving Thalberg was bright and persistent, and by age 21 was executive in charge of production at Universal City, the studio's California production site.

He quickly established his tenacity as he battled with Erich von Stroheim over the length of "Foolish Wives" (1922), and controlled every aspect of the production of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1923). In 1924, he left Universal for Louis B. Mayer Productions, which shortly thereafter linked up with Metro Pictures Corporation to become Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

"The Big Parade" (1925), directed by King Vidor, was Thalberg's first major triumph at MGM. Until 1932, when he suffered a major heart attack, he supervised every important MGM studio production, and combined careful pre-production groundwork with prerelease sneak previews which measured audience response.

At the time he joined Metro Pictures, Thalberg was dating actress Norma Shearer whom he married in 1927. She considered early retirement after having her second child with Thalberg, but he was convinced he could continue to find good roles for her and encouraged her to continue acting. She went on to be MGM's biggest star of the 1930s. Their two children were, Irving Jr. (1930 – 1988) and Katherine (1935 – 2006).

Upon Thalberg's illness, Louis B. Mayer, who had come to resent Thalberg's power and success, replaced him with David O. Selznick and Walter Wanger. When he returned to work in 1933, it was as one of the studio's unit producers.

Nonetheless, he helped develop some of MGM's most prestigious ventures, including "Grand Hotel" (1932), "Mutiny on the Bounty" (1935), "China Seas" (1935), "A Night at the Opera" (1935) with the Marx Brothers, "San Francisco" (1936), and "Romeo and Juliet" (1936).


Thalberg died of pneumonia at age 37 in Santa Monica, California. [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=I. G. Thalberg Dies, Film Producer, 37. 'Boy Wonder' of Hollywood Was Called Most Brilliant Figure in His Field. Made Succession of Hits and Had Developed Many Stars. Husband of Norma Shearer. |url= |quote= |publisher=New York Times |date=September 15, 1936, Tuesday |accessdate=2007-08-21 ] At the time of his death, he was working on the preproduction of "A Day at the Races" (fy|1937) and "Marie Antoinette" (fy|1938).


His name appeared on the screen in only two pictures. The credit for his final film, "The Good Earth" (1937) reads: "To the Memory of Irving Grant Thalberg his last greatest achievement we dedicate this picture." Another dedication to him appeared in the opening credits of "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" (1939), a film that Thalberg set into motion, but never lived to see.

Thalberg refused to allow his name to appear in any of his films, and was quoted as saying, "Credit you give yourself is not worth having."

Thalberg, a good friend of the Marx Brothers and responsible for saving their careers, once sent this often-repeated quote to Groucho Marx via letter on the latter's birthday: "The world would not be in such a snarl, if Marx had been Groucho instead of Karl."

In 1938, the multi-million-dollar administration building built on the old MGM Studios in Culver City -- now Sony Pictures Studios -- was named for Thalberg.

The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is named for him.

F. Scott Fitzgerald based the character of Monroe Stahr in "The Last Tycoon" on Thalberg. In the 1976 film version he was played by Robert De Niro. Thalberg was portrayed in the movie "Man of a Thousand Faces" (1957) by Robert Evans, who later was the producer of "Chinatown" (1974) and "The Godfather" (1972).

Thalberg is buried in a private marble tomb in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, lying at rest beside his wife Norma Shearer Arrouge (Thalberg's crypt was engraved, "My Sweetheart Forever" by Shearer).

In an episode of "Young Indiana Jones", the Universal Pictures of the silent era is depicted, along with characterizations of Irving Thalberg, John Ford, Erich von Stroheim, Carl Laemmle, and Jack Warner.

In a sketch from the British TV comedy series "Monty Python's Flying Circus", a high-profile, egotistical movie producer named Irving C. Salzberg (played by Graham Chapman) pitches a movie to a team of yesmen writers. Contrary to Thalberg's tendency to not credit himself, the end credits of this episode (which came right after this sketch) credited him for nearly everything, and all the names were slightly changed to look more like Irving C. Salzberg (such as John C. Cleeseburg).


As a film producer, Thalberg won Academy Awards for Best Picture for the films "The Broadway Melody", "Grand Hotel" and "Mutiny on the Bounty".


*"Marie Antoinette" (1938)
*"The Good Earth" (1937)
*"Broadway Melody of 1938" (1937)
*"A Day at the Races" (1937)
*"Maytime" (1937)
*"Camille" (1936)
*"Romeo and Juliet" (1936)
*"Riffraff" (1936)
*"A Night at the Opera (film)" (1935)
*"Mutiny on the Bounty" (1935)
*"China Seas" (1935)
*"No More Ladies" (1935)
*"Biography of a Bachelor Girl" (1935)
*"What Every Woman Knows" (1934)
*"The Merry Widow" (1934)
*"The Barretts of Wimpole Street" (1934)
*"Riptide" (1934)
*"Veuve joyeuse, La" (1934)
*"Eskimo/Mala the Magnificent" (1933)
*"Bombshell" (1933)
*"Tugboat Annie" (1933)
*"Strange Interlude" (1932)
*"Rasputin and the Empress" (1932)
*"Red Dust" (1932)
*"Smilin' Through" (1932)
*"Red-Headed Woman" (1932)
*"As You Desire Me" (1932)
*"Letty Lynton" (1932)
*"Grand Hotel" (1932)
*"Tarzan the Ape Man" (1932)
*"Freaks" (1932)
*"Mata Hari" (1931)
*"Private Lives" (1931)
*"Possessed" (1931)
*"The Champ" (1931/I)
*"The Guardsman" (1931)
*"The Sin of Madelon Claudet" (1931)
*"Menschen hinter Gittern" (1931)
*"A Free Soul" (1931)
*"Just a Gigolo" (1931)
*"The Secret Six" (1931)
*"Trader Horn" (1931)
*"Inspiration" (1931)
*"A Lady's Morals" (1930)
*"Way for a Sailor" (1930)
*"Billy the Kid" (1930)
*"Let Us Be Gay" (1930)
*"The Unholy Three" (1930)
*"The Big House" (1930)
*"The Rogue Song" (1930)
*"The Divorcee" (1930)
*"Redemption" (1930)
*"Anna Christie" (1930)
*"The Kiss" (1929)
*"His Glorious Night" (1929)
*"Hallelujah" (1929)
*"The Hollywood Revue of 1929" (1929)
*"The Last of Mrs. Cheyney" (1929)
*"Where East Is East" (1929)
*"Voice of the City" (1929)
*"The Trial of Mary Dugan" (1929)
*"The Broadway Melody" (1929)
*"West of Zanzibar" (1928)
*"Show People" (1928)
*"White Shadows in the South Seas" (1928)
*"Laugh, Clown, Laugh" (1928)
*"The Crowd" (1928)
*"London After Midnight" (1927)
*"The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg" (1927)
*"Twelve Miles Out" (1927)
*"Flesh and the Devil" (1926)
*"Valencia" (1926)
*"The Temptress" (1926)
*"The Road to Mandalay" (1926)
*"Brown of Harvard" (1926)
*"La Bohème" (1926)
*"Torrent" (1926)
*"" (1925)
*"The Big Parade" (1925)
*"The Tower of Lies" (1925)
*"The Merry Widow" (1925)
*"The Unholy Three" (1925)
*"Greed" (1924)
*"He Who Gets Slapped" (1924)
*"His Hour" (1924)
*"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1923)
*"Merry-Go-Round" (1923)
*"Foolish Wives" (1922)
*"The Trap" (1922)
*"The Dangerous Little Demon" (1922 )
*"Reputation" (1921)




* The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era. Thomas Schatz. Pantheon Books, New York, 1988.


* by Bob Thomas (1969)
* by Roland Flamini (1994)
* by Samuel Marx (1975)
*Irving Thalberg's MGM by Mark Vieira (2008)

External links

*imdb name|id=0856921|name=Irving Thalberg
* [ Cinemagraphe] Review of the Roland Flamini biography of Thalberg: The Last Tycoon and the World of MGM

NAME= Thalberg, Irving
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Thalberg, Irving Grant
DATE OF BIRTH= 1899-5-30
PLACE OF BIRTH= Brooklyn, New York
DATE OF DEATH= 1936-9-14
PLACE OF DEATH= Santa Monica, California

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