Vincent Sherman

Vincent Sherman

Jack L. Warner originally wanted Sherman to direct Mildred Pierce (1945) but Jerry Wald held out for Michael Curtiz.

At the age of 96, this legendary director appeared at the Hollywood Collectors Show in North Hollywood, California. There he greeted well-wishers and signed vintage stills, in which he was pictured with legends such as Joan Crawford, Errol Flynn, John Barrymore and others. [October 2002]

Born Abram Orovitz to one of the only two Jewish families in Vienna, Ga., in 1906, Sherman learned at an early age to defend himself against the taunts of his schoolmates. After graduating from Oglethorpe University, he sought an acting career in New York, joining the left-wing Group Theater. Since ethnic names for actors were unfashionable, he changed his to Vincent Sherman.

Directed 4 actors to Oscar nominations: Bette Davis (Best Actress, Mr. Skeffington (1944)), Claude Rains (Best Supporting Actor, Mr. Skeffington (1944)), Richard Todd (Best Actor, The Hasty Heart (1949)), and Robert Vaughn (Best Supporting Actor, The Young Philadelphians (1959)).

During the 1950's, he was targeted by the House Un-American Activities Committee, due to his support of the WPA theater project in New York

During the early 1950s, his thriving career foundered as he was dropped without explanation by Warner Bros., after a federal agent had told the studio Sherman was suspected of communist ties. He said he wasn't a communist, but he knew people like John Garfield who'd been blacklisted, and he stood beside them. His film career was seriously damaged by Hollywood's communist "red scare," but he later rebounded as a successful director of such television series as "77 Sunset Strip" (1958), "The Waltons" (1972)_ "Doctors' Hospital" (1975), "Baretta" (1975), and "Trapper John, M.D." (1979).

Father of Eric Sherman.

Graduate of Oglethorpe University.

Had a son, a daughter, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Actress Francine York was his companion the last nine years of his life.

He became known as a "woman's director" (a title he hated), because he could evoke powerful performances from female stars. He would counter this by pointing out that he also directed Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, Richard Burton, and Paul Newman.

He had begun as an actor, appearing on Broadway and in a handful of movies, among them the hit Counsellor at Law (1933), in which he had a small but memorable role as a young anarchist opposite John Barrymore. He also wrote several screenplays, including King of the Underworld (1939), which starred Humphrey Bogart. In the late 1940s Warner Bros. hired Sherman under an acting-writing-directing contract, and he was assigned to the studio's B-picture unit, adapting old movies into remakes. He broke out as a director in 1942 with a gripping melodrama The Hard Way (1943). Although he would go on to direct many important projects, he never rose to the level that would afford him consideration for an Academy Award.

Received a special tribute as part of the Annual Memorial tribute at The 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007) (TV).

Romanced many of his famous actresses, and he wrote about them in his 1996 autobiography, "Studio Affairs." Though both were married at the time, he and Bette Davis had an affair that began during the filming of Old Acquaintance (1943) and continued through Mr. Skeffington (1944) which was released the following year. His dalliance with Joan Crawford lasted through three movies, and another with Rita Hayworth happened during Affair in Trinidad (1952) after she had divorced Prince Aly Khan.