Ralph Staub

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Ralph Staub (July 21, 1899 in Chicago, Illinois – October 22, 1969, Los Angeles, California) was a movie director, writer, and producer.

He broke into the motion picture industry in 1920, filming short travelogues in Alaska. Relocating to Hollywood, he sold his services as both director and cameraman to various short-subject companies. In 1933 he joined the Warner Bros. shorts department, where he directed slapstick comedies (his most famous being 1935's Keystone Hotel) and musicals (many filmed in Technicolor). He left Warners in 1936 and joined Republic Pictures as a feature-film director; this engagement lasted through 1938. He had short stints at Universal Pictures and Monogram Pictures in 1939-40.

Since 1931 Ralph Staub had been contributing to Columbia Pictures' Screen Snapshots series of short subjects, as a writer. In 1940 he began directing and photographing the Snapshots reels, which usually covered movie-related public events and behind-the-scenes glimpses of moviemaking. Columbia appointed him a producer in 1943,[1] and he devoted himself to Screen Snapshots for the next 15 years. In the 1950s, when budgets were lowered for short-subject production, Staub would save money on actors by hosting the films himself, and would consult his film library for old footage that he could fit into his new productions. For example, an untitled 1940 reel (Series 21, No. 1) emceed by Ken Murray and covering a gay-nineties-themed party, was recycled for Staub's 1951 reel Hollywood Pie Throwers.

Ralph Staub's skill at patching together old film clips into new productions made him an ideal choice to direct Showtime, a syndicated TV series produced by Ben Frye in 1955. Frye owned the library of Snader Telescriptions, three-minute musical films produced for television, and hired comedian Frank Fontaine to host the series. Staub staged each half-hour program like a live vaudeville show, with Fontaine appearing in front of a theater curtain. Fontaine would deliver a comic monologue, then introduce a filmed performance from the Snader library, as though the performers were taking the stage in person.[2]

Columbia discontinued most of its short-subject series in 1956, but Columbia president Harry Cohn allowed Screen Snapshots to continue when Staub proposed filming the shorts in color. This marketable novelty kept the series going for two more years, and Columbia introduced a Screen Snapshots "Guess Who?" contest in which audience members could identify mystery actors and win a free trip to Hollywood.[3] Harry Cohn was sentimental about Screen Snapshots because it had put Columbia on the map: it was the oldest film series still in production, going back to 1920 and the dawn of the studio. Cohn died in February 1958; had he lived longer, Screen Snapshots would almost certainly have continued. The last film in the series was Glamorous Hollywood (released June 26, 1958, after Cohn's death), with Staub setting up his camera at a charity function hosted by Jane Russell.

Three of Ralph Staub's Screen Snapshots shorts were nominated for the Academy Award[4][5][6] and he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1752 Vine Street in Hollywood, California, USA.

Partial filmography[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ International Motion Picture Almanac, Quigley Publishing Company, 1945, p. 374.
  2. ^ Scott MacGillivray and Jan MacGillivray, Gloria Jean: A Little Bit of Heaven, iUniverse, 2005, p. 245. ISBN 978-0-595-37080-1
  3. ^ The Exhibitor, April 17, 1957.
  4. ^ "The 16th Academy Awards (1944) Nominees and Winners". Oscars.org (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). Archived from the original on 2013-10-14. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
  5. ^ "The 17th Academy Awards (1945) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-14.
  6. ^ "The 18th Academy Awards (1946) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-16.