Classic Movie Hub (CMH)


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David O. Selznick

David O. Selznick

According to the 2005 book "Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer" by Scott Eyman, Selznick sold his interest in Gone with the Wind (1939) to former Selnick International chairman John Hay Whitney ("Jock") for a mere $200,000. This was undoubtedly the worst deal Selznick ever made, as the classic film has and always will continue to generate enormous revenue through theatrical reissues, TV broadcasts, and home video release.

By the late 1940s Selznick International was making very few movies and became a talent agency by default, deriving needed income by loaning out its contract stars to other studios.

Cousin of Patricia A. Selznick and Brian Selznick.

David and Irene Mayer Selznick had two sons, L. Jeffrey Selznick and Daniel Selznick.

Despite being considerably taller and bulkier than director George Cukor, Selznick bore a striking resemblance to him. He would later collaborate with Cukor on Gone with the Wind (1939), from which Cukor was eventually fired by Selznick. Nevertheless, the two remained friends for the rest of their lives.



Hated the "baby doll" eye brow look that was made popular by Max Factor and sported by the majority of Hollywood actresses during the 1930s. He insisted that two of his contract players Vivien Leigh and Ingrid Bergman, sport a more natural look.

He abandoned his career at MGM after marrying Irene Mayer Selznick, the daughter of MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer, and moved to RKO. He eventually returned to MGM after the loss of production genius Irving Thalberg. This led to the famous observation that "The son-in-law also rises", a play on words of the Ernest Hemingway novel "The Sun Also Rises".

In 1935, Greta Garbo signed a contract with MGM saying only Irving Thalberg and Selznick could supervise her pictures. After the surprise success of Anna Karenina (1935) with Garbo, David O. Selznick announced that he was leaving MGM to start his own company. Garbo begged him to stay at MGM, saying he could solely produce her pictures. Selznick turned down her offer, saying he had bigger ambitions. It is interesting to note that she only acted in four other films after that: Camille (1936), Conquest (1937), Ninotchka (1939), and Two-Faced Woman (1941), and only two were box-office successes. MGM modified the contract after Thalberg's surprise death in 1936, and Garbo was reportedly furious by this decision.

In 1936, he paid author Margaret Mitchell $50,000 for the movie rights to her novel "Gone With the Wind". Later, after Gone with the Wind (1939) became a blockbuster film, he realized he had underpaid Mitchell and gave her an additional $50,000.

In order to fulfill his picture obligation to United Artists, Selznick brought over Alfred Hitchcock from Europe to produce/direct Selznick's UA projects while he devoted the bulk of his time to Gone with the Wind (1939).

Is portrayed by Ron Berglas in RKO 281 (1999) (TV) and by Tony Curtis in The Scarlett O'Hara War (1980) (TV).

Is the only producer winner back-to-back of the Academy Award for Best Picture for Gone with the Wind (1939) and Rebecca (1940).

Nunnally Johnson reportedly said to Selznick, "My understanding is that an assignment from you consists of three months work and six months recuperation.".

On May 11, 1976, Selznick's 22-year-old daughter Mary Jennifer (by his second wife Jennifer Jones) killed herself by jumping from the tallest building in Westwood (Los Angeles) while her psychotherapist was away on vacation. It was two days after Mother's Day and one day after what would have been her father's 74th birthday. Jennifer Jones subsequently became a therapist herself.

Profiled in in J.A. Aberdeen's "Hollywood Renegades: The Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers". Palos Verdes Estates, CA: Cobblestone Entertainment

Responsible for casting four actresses in roles that made them stars: Katharine Hepburn in A Bill of Divorcement (1932), Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind (1939), Joan Fontaine in Rebecca (1940) and Jennifer Jones in The Song of Bernadette (1943).

Selznick was famed for his long, detailed and incredibly involved -- and, to many of the people who received them, maddening -- memos sent to many different people during the production of a film, not just the director or writer but cameramen, editors, and pretty much anyone who had anything to do with the picture. A publicist on one of his films once got a Western Union telegram from Selznick that ended up being more than 30 feet long and finished up with, "I have just received a phone call that pretty much clears up this matter. Therefore you can disregard this wire." These famed memos are the subject of an entire book "Memo From David Selznick" edited by Rudy Behlmer. According to Behlmer, Selznick dictated his every thought to secretaries from 1916-1965 in memos that filled 2,000 file boxes.

Signed Gene Kelly to his first Hollywood contract after seeing him star in "Pal Joey" on Broadway. He sold Kelly's contract to MGM before he could find a suitable film role for him.

Son of producer Lewis J. Selznick.

The "O" in his middle name, though it has a period after it, doesn't stand for anything. He added it because he felt it gave flair to his name.

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