Norman Foster (director)
December 13, 1903
Richmond, Indiana, U.S.
|Died||July 7, 1976
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, director, screenwriter|
|Spouse(s)||Claudette Colbert (1928-1935; divorced)
Sally Blane (1935-1976; his death); 2 children
Norman Foster (December 13, 1903 – July 7, 1976) was an American film director and actor.
Life and career
Born John Hoeffer in Richmond, Indiana, Foster originally became a cub reporter on a local newspaper in Indiana before going to New York in the hopes of getting a better newspaper job but there were no vacancies.
He tried a number of theatrical agencies before getting stage work and later appeared on Broadway in the George S. Kaufman/Ring Lardner play June Moon in 1929. He also acted in London. He began working in crowd scenes in films before moving to bigger parts. His film acting credits include the following:
- It Pays to Advertise (1931)
- Up Pops the Devil (1931)
- Men Call It Love (1931)
- Play-Girl (1932)
- Week-End Marriage (1932)
- Skyscraper Souls (1932)
- Prosperity (1932)
- Pilgrimage (1933)
- Walls of Gold (1933)
- Professional Sweetheart (1933)
- Rafter Romance (1933)
- State Fair (1933)
- Orient Express (1934)
- Strictly Dynamite (1934)
- Behind the Green Lights (1935)
- The Bishop Misbehaves (1935)
- Ladies Crave Excitement (1935)
- Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation (1939)
Foster wrote several plays. He gave up acting in the late 1930s to pursue directing, although he occasionally appeared in movies and television programs. Foster directed a number of Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto mysteries, including Charlie Chan in Panama (1940), Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (1939), Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation (1939), Charlie Chan in Reno (1939), Mr. Moto's Last Warning (1939), Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938), Mr. Moto Takes a Chance (1938), Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937), and Think Fast, Mr. Moto (1937). He co-wrote and directed the "My Friend Bonito" segment of Orson Welles's unfinished Pan-American anthology film It's All True (1941).:310–311 Initially engaged as a second-unit director who would film background material,:189 Foster came to do much more and the quality of his work would have been recognized with a co-director credit on the film.:31–34 A co-production of RKO Pictures and the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, the non-commercial project was later terminated by RKO.:41
As Welles prepared to go to Brazil to film the Rio Carnival for It's All True, he temporarily suspended "Bonito" (for which filming was never completed) so Foster could return to Hollywood to direct Journey into Fear (1943). Welles played a small on-screen role in the Mercury Production, and denied that he took over direction of the film himself.:155
Some of Foster's other directorial efforts include Kiss the Blood off My Hands (1948), Rachel and the Stranger (1948), Woman on the Run (1950) and The Sign of Zorro (1958). He directed the Davy Crockett segments of the Walt Disney anthology television series Disneyland that were edited into the feature films Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (1955) and Davy Crockett and the River Pirates (1956). Foster's second verse of his lyrics to Disney's Zorro theme song which was "He is polite, but the wicked take flight, when they catch the sight of Zorro. He's friend of the weak, and the poor, and the meek, this very unique Senor Zorro." never aired on the television series. This version of the Zorro Theme including these verses was performed by The Chordettes. These verses later appeared in the Disney Sing-Along Songs version of the Zorro Theme in its 1987 direct-to-video episode, "Heigh-Ho". In 1967, he directed Brighty of the Grand Canyon, based on a children's novel by Marguerite Henry about a burro in the Grand Canyon National Park.
Foster was married to Claudette Colbert from 1928 until their divorce in 1935. In October 1935, he wed actress Sally Blane, an older sister of Loretta Young. They had their first child (born in June 1936) named Gretchen (Loretta Young's birth name). They also had a son, Robert.
- Benamou, Catherine L., It's All True: Orson Welles's Pan-American Odyssey. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007 ISBN 978-0-520-24247-0
- Wilson, Richard, "It's Not Quite All True". Sight & Sound, Volume 39 Number 4, Autumn 1970.
- Callow, Simon, Hello Americans. New York: Viking, 2006 ISBN 0-670-87256-3
- Welles, Orson, and Peter Bogdanovich, edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum, This is Orson Welles. New York: HarperCollins, 1992; ISBN 0-06-016616-9.
- Lewis, Judy (1994). Uncommon Knowledge.
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