Richard Thorpe

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Richard Thorpe
Richard Thorpe Cheating Cheaters (1934) (cropped).jpg
Richard Thorpe in 1934
Rollo Smolt Thorpe

(1896-02-24)February 24, 1896
Hutchinson, Kansas, United States
DiedMay 1, 1991(1991-05-01) (aged 95)
Palm Springs, California, United States
Resting placeAshes scattered into the Pacific Ocean
OccupationFilm director
ChildrenJerry Thorpe

Richard Thorpe (born Rollo Smolt Thorpe; February 24, 1896 – May 1, 1991) was an American film director best known for his long career at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.[1]


Born Rollo Smolt Thorpe in Hutchinson, Kansas, Richard Thorpe began his entertainment career performing in vaudeville and onstage. In 1921 he began in motion pictures as an actor and directed his first silent film in 1923. He went on to direct more than one hundred and eighty films. He worked frequently at the Poverty Row studio Chesterfield Pictures during the 1930s. The first full-length motion picture he directed for MGM was Last of the Pagans (1935) starring Ray Mala.

At MGM, he teamed up with producer Pandro S. Berman in the 1950s, with whom he made several films, including Ivanhoe (1952), The Prisoner of Zenda (1952), Knights of the Round Table (1953), All the Brothers Were Valiant (1953) and The Adventures of Quentin Durward (1955).

After directing The Last Challenge in 1967, he retired from the film industry.

His two favorite films were Night Must Fall (1937) and Two Girls and a Sailor (1944).[2]

Wizard of Oz[edit]

Thorpe is also known as the original director of The Wizard of Oz. He was fired after two weeks of shooting because it was felt that his scenes did not have the right air of fantasy about them. Thorpe notoriously gave Judy Garland a blonde wig and cutesy "baby-doll" makeup that made her look like a girl in her late teens rather than an innocent Kansas farm girl of about 13. Both makeup and wig were discarded at the suggestion of George Cukor, who was brought in temporarily. Stills from Thorpe's work on the film survive today. Further, it is understood that bits of his filmed footage of Toto escaping from the Wicked Witch's castle are featured in the film, albeit uncredited.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Thorpe has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6101 Hollywood Blvd. In 2003 a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in Palm Springs, California was dedicated to him and his son Jerry.[3]

He died in Palm Springs, California on May 1, 1991.

Selected filmography[edit]

Cesar Romero, Fay Wray, director Richard Thorpe and cinematographer George Robinson (in background) on the set of Cheating Cheaters (1934)

As director


External links[edit]