Jack Cummings (director)

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John Cummings (February 16, 1905[1] – April 28, 1989) was an American film producer and director. He was best known for being a leading producer at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He was the third husband of Betty Kern, daughter of Jerome Kern.[2]

Cummings spent most of his career at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; his uncle, Louis B. Mayer initially hired his nephew in the 1920s as an office boy and expected him to work his way up through the ranks.

Cummings became a staff producer at MGM in 1934, where he worked in the B-feature unit for two years. In 1936, he produced the extravagant Cole Porter musical Born to Dance, which established his reputation as a respected producer. Cummings remained at MGM even after his uncle was fired as head of the studio in 1951. Over the years, Cummings worked with talent such as the Marx Brothers, Red Skelton, Esther Williams, and Fred Astaire, producing some of the era's best-known musicals, including 1953's Kiss Me Kate and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in 1954, for which he received an Academy Award nomination. He left MGM to become an independent producer affiliated with Twentieth Century-Fox and produced the 1959 remake of The Blue Angel and the 1960 movie version of the Abe Burrows-Cole Porter Broadway musical Can-Can. In 1964, he returned to MGM one last time to produce the Elvis Presley musical Viva Las Vegas. Other credits included Easy to Wed, It Happened in Brooklyn, Three Little Words, The Last Time I Saw Paris, Interrupted Melody, and The Teahouse of the August Moon.[3]


Jack Cummings was the son of Ida Mayer Cummings, sister of Louis B Mayer. He had two sisters, Ruth (married to film director Roy Rowland) and Mitzi (married to film producer Sol Baer Fielding), as well as a younger half brother Leonard 'Sonny' Cummings.

He went to work at the MGM prop department when seventeen. He worked as an office boy, script clerk, assistant director and short subject director for MGM studios before producing his first feature film, The Winning Ticket in 1934.[4]

He worked for three years on Interrupted Melody.[5] He also spent a number of years developing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

In March 1955 Cummings announced he would leave MGM once the 18 months left on his contract ran out.[6]

In June 1957 he formed a company with Louis B Mayer to make two films. The Dragon Tree and Paint Your Wagon.[7] However Mayer died before either could be made. In June 1958 Cummings signed a deal with 20th Century Fox.[8]

Dorothy Kingsley the writer late said:

Jack Cummings was an excellent producer, though he was L. B.'s [Louis B. Mayer's] nephew, which reacted against him. He let it react against him. Everyone else would go up and ask L. B. for something, but Jack never would because he was his nephew. He went through every department in the studio—cutting, music, sound, everything. He had a good story mind, too. He knew about everything and he was one of the best producers.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Mr. Cummings died at age 84. He was survived by his four daughters, Julie Cummings Siff, of Manhattan, Kathy Cummings St. Aubin, of Los Angeles, Linda Kern Cummings, of Danville, Ky., and Carla Luisa Cummings, of Los Angeles.[1]

Partial filmography[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

27th Academy Awards, held March 1955. Nominated for Best Picture (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers). Lost to Sam Spiegel for On the Waterfront.[10]


  1. ^ a b Jack Cummings, 84, a Producer at M-G-M: [Obituary] New York Times 30 Apr 1989: A.40.
  2. ^ "Betty Kern Elopes, Takes Third Husband". Baltimore Sun. May 29, 1947. p. 6.
  3. ^ The Family Ties of Producer Jack Cummings: [Home Edition] Champlin, Charles. Los Angeles Times 4 May 1989: 1.
  4. ^ Came Up Through the Ranks of MGM Jack Cummings; Film Musical Producer: [Home Edition] Connelly, Michael. Los Angeles Times 30 Apr 1989: 42.
  5. ^ Eleanor Parker Plays Convincing Diva Role: Lawrence Life Story Applauded Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times 13 Feb 1955: D3.
  6. ^ COLUMBIA TO BACK SPIEGEL IN 3 FILMS: New York Times ]30 Mar 1955: 35.
  7. ^ MAYER WILL FILM BROADWAY SHOW. New York Times 7 June 1957: 19.
  8. ^ JACK CUMMINGS SIGNS FOX PACT: Producer, a Mayer Nephew, to Work as Independent New York Times 12 June 1958: 35.
  9. ^ McGilligan, Pat (1991). "Dorothy Kingsley: The Fixer". In McGilligan, Pat (ed.). Backstory 2: Interviews with Screenwriters of the 1940s and 1950s. University of California Press. p. 119.
  10. ^ "The 27th Academy Awards (1955) Nominees and Winners". Oscars.org (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). Retrieved June 6, 2019.

External links[edit]