George Stevens with his Oscar for Giant
December 18, 1904|
Oakland, California, United States
|Died||March 8, 1975
Lancaster, California, United States
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Occupation||director, cinematographer, actor, writer, producer|
|Spouse(s)||Yvonne Howell (1930–1947)
Joan McTavish (1968–1975)
|Children||George Stevens, Jr.|
Legion of Merit
Among his most notable films are A Place in the Sun (1951; winner of six Academy Awards including Best Director), Shane (1953; Oscar nominated), Giant (1956; Oscar for Best Director), and The Diary of Anne Frank (1959; nominated for Best Director).
He was born in Oakland, California, and his family included his father Landers Stevens and his mother Georgie Cooper, both stage actors. His uncle was drama critic Ashton Stevens. He also had two brothers, Jack and writer Aston Stevens. He learned about the stage from his parents and worked and toured with them on his path to filmmaking. He broke into the movie business as a cameraman, working on many Laurel and Hardy short films, such as Night Owls (1930). His first feature film was The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble in 1933.
In 1934 he got his first directing job, the slapstick Kentucky Kernels. His big break came when he directed Katharine Hepburn in Alice Adams in 1935. He went on in the late 1930s to direct several Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire movies, not only with the two actors together, but on their own. In 1940, he directed Carole Lombard in Vigil in the Night, and the film has an alternate ending for European audiences in recognition of World War II, which at the time the U.S. had not yet entered.
During World War II, Stevens joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps and headed a film unit from 1943 to 1946, under General Eisenhower. His unit shot footage documenting D-Day—including the only Allied European Front color film of the war—the liberation of Paris and the meeting of American and Soviet forces at the Elbe River, as well as horrific scenes from the Duben labor camp and the Dachau concentration camp. Stevens also helped prepare the Duben and Dachau footage and other material for presentation during the Nuremberg Trials. In 2008, his footage was entered into the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as an "essential visual record" of World War II.
One result of his World War II experiences was that his subsequent films became more dramatic. The motion picture I Remember Mama from 1948 was the last movie that he made with comic scenes. He was responsible for such classic films as A Place in the Sun, Shane, The Diary of Anne Frank, Giant and The Greatest Story Ever Told. He ended his directing career with the 1970 film The Only Game in Town with Warren Beatty and Elizabeth Taylor. In the same year, he was head of the jury at the 20th Berlin International Film Festival. In 1973 he was a member of the jury at the 8th Moscow International Film Festival.
Stevens was the father of television and film writer-producer-director George Stevens, Jr., the first CEO and director of the American Film Institute. George Jr. produced and directed the documentary about his father George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey in 1984 and is the father of Stevens' grandson Michael Stevens, also a television and film producer-director.
Stevens died following a heart attack on March 8, 1975, on his ranch in Lancaster, California, north of Los Angeles. He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles.
As a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, Stevens headed the U.S. Army Signal Corps unit that filmed the Normandy landings and the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. For these contributions, he was awarded the Legion of Merit.
Stevens has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1701 Vine Street. He won the Academy Award for Best Director twice, in 1951 for A Place in the Sun and in 1956 for Giant. He was also nominated in 1943 for The More the Merrier, in 1954 for Shane, and in 1959 for The Diary of Anne Frank.
The moving image collection of George Stevens is held at the Academy Film Archive. The film material at the Academy Film Archive is complemented by material in the George Stevens papers at the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library.
Directed Academy Award performances
|Academy Award for Best Actor|
|1941||Cary Grant||Penny Serenade||Nominated|
|1951||Montgomery Clift||A Place in the Sun||Nominated|
|Academy Award for Best Actress|
|1935||Katharine Hepburn||Alice Adams||Nominated|
|1942||Katharine Hepburn||Woman of the Year||Nominated|
|1943||Jean Arthur||The More the Merrier||Nominated|
|1948||Irene Dunne||I Remember Mama||Nominated|
|1951||Shelley Winters||A Place in the Sun||Nominated|
|Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1943||Charles Coburn||The More the Merrier||Won|
|1948||Oskar Homolka||I Remember Mama||Nominated|
|1959||Ed Wynn||The Diary of Anne Frank||Nominated|
|Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress|
|1948||Barbara Bel Geddes||I Remember Mama||Nominated|
|1948||Ellen Corby||I Remember Mama||Nominated|
|1959||Shelley Winters||The Diary of Anne Frank||Won|
Academy Awards in George Stevens Films
|A Damsel in Distress||
|1942||Woman of the Year||
|The Talk of the Town||
|1943||The More the Merrier||
|1948||I Remember Mama||
|1951||A Place in the Sun||
|1959||The Diary of Anne Frank||
|1965||The Greatest Story Ever Told||
- Obituary Variety, March 12, 1975, page 79.
- Robert E. Conot, Justice at Nuremberg, page 197
- Library of Congress "Cinematic Classics, Legendary Stars, Comedic Legends and Novice Filmmakers Showcase the 2008 Film Registry" News from the Library of Congress (30 December 2008)
- "Berlinale 1970: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- "8th Moscow International Film Festival (1973)". MIFF. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
- "George Stevens (1904 - 1975) - Find A Grave Memorial". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2016-02-28.
- "George Stevens Collection". Academy Film Archive.
- Cronin, Paul: George Stevens: Interviews. Jackson, MI, University Press of Mississippi, 2004. ISBN 1-57806-639-5
- Moss, Marilyn Ann: Giant: George Stevens, a Life on Film. Madison, WI, University of Wisconsin Press, 2004. ISBN 0-299-20430-8
- Petri, Bruce: A Theory of American Film: The Films and Techniques of George Stevens. New York, Taylor & Francis, 1987. ISBN 0-8240-0070-6
- Richie, Donald: George Stevens: An American Romantic. New York, Taylor & Francis, 1984 (reprint of 1970 original). ISBN 0-8240-5773-2
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to George Stevens.|
- George Stevens at the Internet Movie Database
- George Stevens: Movie Movie
- George Stevens papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
|Non-profit organization positions|
|President of Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences
B. B. Kahane