Arthur Lubin

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Arthur Lubin
Arthur Lubin.jpg
Born Arthur William Lubovsky
(1898-07-25)July 25, 1898
Los Angeles, United States
Died May 12, 1995(1995-05-12) (aged 96)
Glendale, California, United States
Occupation Film director, writer

Arthur Lubin (July 25, 1898 – May 12, 1995) was an American film director and producer who directed several Abbott & Costello films and created the TV series Mister Ed. A prominent director for Universal Pictures in the 1950s, he is perhaps best known today as the man who gave Clint Eastwood his first contract in film.


Lubin in 1928

Arthur Lubin was born Arthur William Lubovsky in Los Angeles in 1898. He grew up in Jerome, Arizona, and attended Page Military Academy and Carnegie Tech. As a child he had worked as a water boy for touring theatre companies and volunteered for circuses; on graduation from college in 1922 he decided to become an actor.[1] Lubin began acting in stage plays (mostly in "Little Theatre") and movies, also directing shows for the Hollywood Writers Club.[2][3] As an actor he specialized in heavy melodrama, in sharp contrast with his later work as a film director.[4] In 1925 he and some friends were charged with obscenity by the Los Angeles police for putting on a production of Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms.[5] He later worked on Broadway.

In June 1932 he returned to Hollywood to work for William Le Baron. He began directing Little Theatre and films, working for low budget companies such as Monogram, and Republic.[3]

In 1936 he signed a contract with Universal starting 15 April.[6]

Lubin directed the first Abbott and Costello star vehicle, Buck Privates (1941). The movie was a big hit, earning $4 million – Lubin, who was paid $350 a week, was given a $5,000 bonus. He went on to direct the duo's next four movies, In the Navy (1941) (which earned him another $5,000 bonus), Hold That Ghost (1941), Keep 'Em Flying (1942) and Ride 'Em Cowboy (1942).[7] All the films were successful – Variety magazine named Lubin the most commercially successful director in Hollywood in 1941[8] – but Lubin asked to work on other movies:

I asked to be released after the fifth picture because they came on the set late, they didn't know their lines, and I think they were beginning to get tired of one another. They were bored. and for the first time they were beginning to complain about the scripts. But it was five fabulous pictures with the boys. They were very good for me. They gave me a reputation. I learned everything about timing from them. And I think I was very good for them, in this respect: not their routines, but in trying to give them some class. Whenever they got crude or rude, I'd try to soften it. And I tried in all my set-ups to keep a balance of refinement against the earthiness of some of their routines.[9]

Lubin with Mary Pickford in 1943

Lubin's most successful film at the box office was Phantom of the Opera (1943). Another successful film was Rhubarb (1951) about a cat that inherits a baseball team by proxy.

Lubin also directed the "Francis the Talking Mule" series, for which he had a percentage of the profits.[10] He brought the idea to TV as the series Mr. Ed. He was the first producer to give a contract to Clint Eastwood. Lubin also directed episodic TV shows like Bronco (1958), Maverick (1959), Bonanza (1960), Mister Ed (1961) and The Addams Family (1965). Lubin's last work was the 1978 Little Lulu TV special on ABC Weekend Special. A longtime friend of Mae West, he got her to appear on an episode of Mister Ed.[11]

Lubin's career ended in the late 1970s. He died at the Autumn Hills nursing home in Glendale, California on May 12, 1995 at age 96.[5]


As director[edit]

TV credits[edit]

As actor[edit]

Unmade films[edit]

  • Wisdom of the Serpent (1957)[12]
  • The Israeli Story, An Old Spanish Custom and Sex and Miss Mc-Adoo (circa 1957)[13]
  • The Digger (1962)
  • The Ghost of Drury Lane (1962) from a script by Mrs Wallace Reid[14]

Theatre credits[edit]

  • The Taming of the Shrew (1916) – San Diego – actor[15]
  • The Red Poppy (20 Dec – Dec 1922) – actor
  • Anything Might Happen (20 Feb – April 1923) – actor
  • He Who Gets Slapped (1924) – Pasadena Playhouse – actor
  • Lilliom (1924) – Hollywood Art Theatre – actor
  • The Failures (1924) – The Potboilers – actor
  • Justice (1925) – Los Angeles – actor[16]
  • Hell Bent for Heaven (1925) – actor
  • Madam or Saint (1925) – actor
  • The Waltz of the Dogs (1925) – actor
  • The Dream Play (1925) – Pasadena Players – actor
  • This One Man (21 Oct – Nov 1930) – director – cast included Paul Muni
  • When the Bough Breaks (16 Feb – March 1932) – director
  • Her Man of Wax (11 Oct – Oct 1933) – director
  • Growing Pains (23 Nov – Dec 1933) – director


  1. ^ "Arthur Lubin, 96, Director Of 'Mr. Ed' TV Series, Dies". The New York Times. 14 May 1995. 
  2. ^ "Arthur Lubin to Continue With His Stage Work". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif. 8 Oct 1925. p. A9. 
  3. ^ a b New York Times (28 June 1942). "JACK OF ALL MUSES". p. X4. 
  4. ^ "SO THE MULE TALKS--: REPORTER By ARTHUR LUBIN Director of "Francis"". New York Times. 12 Mar 1950. p. X4. 
  5. ^ a b ROBERT McG. THOMAS Jr (14 May 1995). "Arthur Lubin, 96, Director Of 'Mr. Ed' TV Series, Dies". New York Times. p. 38. 
  6. ^ Schallert, Edwin (26 Mar 1936). "Dionne Family, Minus Quintuplets, to Play in "Where Are My Children?": Universal to Make Controversial Story "Simone Simon Will Start Work in Month on "Girl's Dormitory;" Arthur Lubin Signs to Direct; Foran Changing Type". Los Angeles Times. p. 11. 
  7. ^ Furmanek p 48
  8. ^ "FILM MONEY-MAKERS SELECTED BY VARIETY: ' Sergeant York' Top Picture, Gary Cooper Leading Star". New York Times. 31 Dec 1941. p. 21. 
  9. ^ Furmanek p 68
  10. ^ Arthur Lubin, 'SO THE MULE TALKS--: REPORTER', New York Times 12 Mar 1950: X4.
  11. ^ West, Mae (2011-07-25). "Mae West: Mae West: Arthur Lubin". Retrieved 2016-09-07. 
  12. ^ "LUBIN WILL DO FILM OF ST. JOHNS STORY: Director Buys Screen Rights to 'Wisdom of the Serpent' -Irene Dunne to Star"
  13. ^ A. H. WEILER (29 Sep 1957). "REPORTS BY THOSE AT HOME ABROAD: Films In Israel, Spain Planned By Director --Other Travelers". New York Times. p. 121. 
  14. ^ Ryon, Art (9 Dec 1962). "Director Lubin Digs New Off-Beat Movie". Los Angeles Times. p. E2. 
  15. ^ LOCAL CORRESPONDENCE. (30 Apr 1916). "BARD HONORED IN PAGEANTRY.: Shakespeare Tercentenary is Fittingly Observed; School Children are Workers Behind Productions; Design and Finish Costumes; Read Immortal Lines. One of the Things He Didn't Miss.". Los Angeles Times. p. V12. 
  16. ^ "ARTHUR AT ART THEATERS". Los Angeles Times. 30 Aug 1925. p. D20. 
  • Furmanek, Bob and Ron Palumbo (1991). Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. New York: Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-51605-0

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