George Sidney

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George Sidney
Lana Turner, Spencer Tracy, and George Sidney May 1947.png
George Sidney behind Spencer Tracy and Lana Turner on the set of Cass Timberlane (1947)
Born (1916-10-04)4 October 1916
Long Island City, New York, United States
Died 5 May 2002(2002-05-05) (aged 85)
Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Occupation Film director
Spouse(s) Lillian Burns (divorced)
Jane Robinson (1973–1991)
Corinne Cole (1991–2002)

George Sidney (October 4, 1916 – May 5, 2002) was an American film director and film producer who worked primarily at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Sidney was born to a Hungarian Jewish family[1] in Long Island City, New York. Both Sidney's parents were actors and Sidney began acting as a child on stage and in silent films. He worked as a musician.[2]

Director of Shorts at MGM[edit]

Sidney's father got a job as an executive at Loew's Inc. Sidney got a job at MGM as a messenger and worked his way up to office boy. He moved into directing screen tests and second unit as well as taking stills.

Sidney was assigned to direct the Our Gang comedies, which MGM had just acquired from Hal Roach, in 1938. Sidney, then age 21, was the youngest Our Gang senior director the series would have, and was only nine years older than the eldest Our Gang kid, Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer's brother Harold Switzer.

After a year of working on Our Gang shorts, Sidney moved on to the Crime Does Not Pay series and popular Pete Smith specialties.

Early Features[edit]

Sidney graduated to directing features with Free and Easy (1941). He followed it with Pacific Rendezvous (1942) and Pilot No. 5 (1942). He then worked his way into directing large scale musicals such as The Harvey Girls (1946), The Three Musketeers (1948), Annie Get Your Gun (1950), and Kiss Me Kate (1953).

Columbia[edit]

Sidney left MGM to make The Eddy Duchin Story (1956) at Columbia Pictures where he made his base for the next decade for such films as Jeanne Eagels (1957), Pal Joey (1957), Who Was That Lady? (1960), Pepe (1960), and Bye Bye Birdie (1963).

He would return to MGM to film A Ticklish Affair (1963) and Elvis Presley's Viva Las Vegas (1964). His last film was Half a Sixpence (1967).

Animation[edit]

Sidney became good friends with MGM animation directors William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Hanna and Barbera's Jerry Mouse appeared alongside Gene Kelly in Sidney's film Anchors Aweigh (1945). After MGM closed its animation studio in 1957, Sidney helped Hanna and Barbera form a deal with Screen Gems, the television division of Columbia Pictures, to form the successful television animation studio Hanna-Barbera Productions, and was a shareholder in the company. Sidney later featured Hanna-Barbera's Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble, Huckleberry Hound, and Yogi Bear in Bye Bye Birdie (1963).

In 1961, Sidney appeared as himself, along with the canine Lassie, in the episode "The Stones Go To Hollywood" of the ABC sitcom, The Donna Reed Show. The episode plugged Sidney's then current feature film, Pepe, in which Donna Reed makes a cameo appearance.

Awards[edit]

Sidney was nominated for the Directors Guild of America Award four times, starting with the lush Technicolor remake of Show Boat. In 1958 he was presented with a Golden Globe Award for Best World Entertainment through Musical Films. For his work in the art of cinema, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 1966, Variety listed Sidney as the director with the most films earning rentals of $4,000,000 or more in the United States and Canada with 12 films on the list with a total rental of $57.25 million. Based on the rentals listed for other directors, his ranking was fourth based on total rentals. His top performing films were Bye Bye Birdie, The Eddy Duchin Story, Show Boat, Pepe, Pal Joey, Viva Las Vegas, Annie Get Your Gun, Anchors Aweigh, The Harvey Girls, The Three Musketeers, Cass Timberlane, and Holiday in Mexico.[3] He was ranked second 11 years later.[4]

Personal life[edit]

He was married three times: first to Lillian Burns (divorced), then to Jane Robinson (1973–1991), and finally to Corinne Cole (1991–2002), until his death from complications of lymphoma in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the age of 85.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Group Award Film Result
1952 Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Show Boat Nominated
1953 Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Scaramouche Nominated
1954 Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Young Bess Nominated
1957 Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures The Eddy Duchin Story Nominated
1959 Directors Guild of America DGA Honorary Life Member Award
-
Won
1986 Directors Guild of America Robert B. Aldrich Achievement Award
-
Won
1998 Directors Guild of America President's Award
-
Won
1995 Golden Apple Award Louella Parsons Award
-
Won
1958 Golden Globe Award Best World Entertainment Through Musical Films
-
Won
1993 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival King Vidor Memorial Award
-
Won

Partial filmography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Monder, Eric (1994). George Sidney:a Bio-Bibliography. Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313284571.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cones, John. Motion Picture Biographies: The Hollywood Spin on Historical Figures. p. 62. ISBN 9781628941166.
  2. ^ Davis p 60-62
  3. ^ "Star, Producer, Director Identification with All-Time Top-Grossing Features". Variety. January 5, 1966. p. 3.
  4. ^ "Stevenson preps his 20th Disney film in 21 years". Daily Variety. July 14, 1977. p. 1.