Job Film director
Years active 1927-1968
Top Roles Cameo appearance, Jack Rawlins, Presenter of the Best Director Oscar to Victor Fleming at the 12th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony
Top GenresDrama, Comedy, Romance, Crime, Musical, Film Adaptation
Top TopicsBook-Based, Based on Play, Pre-Code Cinema
Top Collaborators , , ,
Shares birthday with Jane Darwell, Fritz Feld, Jean Peters  see more..

Mervyn LeRoy Overview:

Director, Mervyn LeRoy, was born on Oct 15, 1900 in San Francisco, CA. LeRoy died at the age of 86 on Sep 13, 1987 in Beverly Hills, CA and was laid to rest in Forest Lawn (Glendale) Cemetery in Glendale, CA.


Mervyn LeRoy hovered just below the cream of Hollywood directors for more than 30 years, during which time he made some of its best-remembered and often-revived films. For his films -- Little Caesar, Five Star Final, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Gold Diggers of 1933, They Won't Forget, Random Harvest, Madame Curie, The Bad Seed and Gypsy -- LeRoy has well earned his place in the upper echelons of Hollywood's Hall of Fame.

A child actor from 1912, and in vaudeville from 1916, LeRoy arrived in Hollywood in 1919 and slaved away in various unlikely jobs -- wardrobe assistant, laboratory technician, assistant cameraman and extra -- before a brief period as an actor in silent films from 1920 to 1924.

He began to write for films from 1925, notably for several films featuring Colleen Moore, and turned director at Warners two years later. He made his name (and that of Edward G. Robinson) with Little Caesar, a rough-hewn gangster drama. Two better LeRoy films (from a directorial point of view) were 'social reform' dramas Five Star Final (again with Robinson) and I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang with Paul Muni.

Easily the best of LeRoy's later 1930's films is They Won't Forget, a striking condemnation of lynch law with Claude Rains as the self-seeking prosecutor in the case of a murdered girl in a southern states town. Some of LeRoy's camera angles and lighting effects are exceptionally well organized and intelligent and the film, memorably bitter, hammers home its points to great effect.

When LeRoy moved across to MGM in 1938, he seemed to undergo something of a personality change, at first turning producer (i.e. The Wizard of Oz), then making glossy up-market films including Random Harvest and Madame Curie.

(Source: available at Amazon Quinlan's Film Directors).



Although LeRoy was nominated for one Oscar, he never won a competitive Academy Award.

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1942Best DirectorRandom Harvest (1942)N/ANominated

He was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures. Mervyn LeRoy's handprints and footprints were 'set in stone' at Grauman's Chinese Theater during imprint ceremony #124 on Oct 15, 1963.

BlogHub Articles:

Random Harvest (1942, )

By Andrew Wickliffe on Dec 1, 2014 From The Stop Button

It’s hard to imagine a more supreme melodrama than Random Harvest. Almost the entire first hour (of two and a nickel), the film chronicles the blissful romance of Greer Garson and Ronald Colman. He’s an amnesiac World War I veteran, she’s on the stage–a combination of song an... Read full article

Big City Blues (, 1932)

By Judy on Jun 18, 2011 From Movie Classics

I’ve been meaning to write about one or two more obscure pre-Codes that I’ve seen in the last few weeks, but haven’t got round to it and my memory of some of them is already starting to fade. So here is a short posting on one of these, Big City Blues, starring Joan Blondell and wit... Read full article

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Mervyn LeRoy Facts
Although he would later take credit for discovering actress Loretta Young, Young's daughter Judy Lewis wrote that actually silent film actress Colleen Moore discovered Young.

Introduced actor Ronald Reagan to actress Nancy Davis who both later married.

Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 527-530. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.

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