Jerry Wald

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Jerry Wald
John Wayne, Maurice Chevalier, Anthony Quinn and Jerry Wald during 1958 Academy Awards rehearsals.jpg
Jerry Wald (facing away from camera) during rehearsals for the 1958 Academy Awards, with John Wayne, Maurice Chevalier and Anthony Quinn
Born Jerome Irving Wald
(1911-09-16)September 16, 1911
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died July 13, 1962(1962-07-13) (aged 50)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Occupation Screenwriter; motion picture/radio program producer
Years active 1932–1962
Spouse(s) Constance M. Polan (1941–1962; his death; 2 children)

Jerry Wald (September 16, 1911 – July 13, 1962) was an American screenwriter and a producer of films and radio programs.[1][2]

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Born Jerome Irving Wald to a Jewish family[3] in Brooklyn, New York, he had a brother and sons who were active in show business. He went to James Madison High.

He began writing a radio column for the New York Evening Graphic, while studying journalism at New York University. This led to him producing several Rambling 'Round Radio Row featurettes for Vitaphone, Warner Brothers' short subject division (1932–33).

Screenwriter[edit]

Krasna's first feature credit was for the Warners movie Twenty Million Sweethearts (1934); he provided the story along with Paul Finder Moss at Warners. Wald provided the story (along with Philip Epstein) for Universal's Gift of Gab (1934).

Wald then signed with Warners where would be based for over a decade. He worked on the script for Maybe It's Love (1935) and the Rudy Valee musical Sweet Music (1935).

Julius Epstein[edit]

Wald worked on a series of scripts with Julius J. Epstein: the drama Living on Velvet (1935); In Caliente (1935); Broadway Gondolier (1935) (both uncredited); Little Big Shot (1935); Stars Over Broadway (1935); I Live for Love (1935); and Sons o' Guns (1936) with Joe E. Brown.

Other writers with whom Wald regularly worked were Sid Herzig and Warren Duff who were both on Sing Me a Love Song (1937).

Richard Macaulay[edit]

Wald worked on Ready, Willing and Able (1937) based on a story by Richard Macaulay. Wald, Macaulay, Duff and Herzig worked on Varsity Show (1937). Wald did some work on Ever Since Eve (1937).

Wald and Macaulay collaborated on scripts for Hollywood Hotel (1937); The Gay Impostors (1938) for Valee; Garden of the Moon (1938); Brother Rat (1938), based on the hit play; and Hard to Get (1938) with Dick Powell.

Wald and Herig were among the writers on Going Places (1938) with Powell. He and Macaulay worked on The Kid from Kokomo (1939), from a story by Dalton Trumbo; Naughty But Nice (1939) for Powell; and On Your Toes (1939).

Wald and Macaulay had both mostly worked on musicals but they had a big hit with the gangster film The Roaring Twenties (1939), with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, co-written with Robert Rossen.

They worked on Brother Rat and a Baby (1939) (uncredited); 3 Cheers for the Irish (1940), a comedy; Torrid Zone (1940), with Cagney and Ann Sheridan; Flight Angels (1940); Brother Orchid (1940); They Drive by Night (1940) with George Raft and Bogart; Million Dollar Baby (1941), a comedy co written with Casey Robinson; Out of the Fog (1941) with Lupino, working with Rossen; Manpower (1941) with Raft, Edward G Robinson and Marlene Dietrich.

Producer[edit]

Wald was promoted to producer at the recommendation of Mark Hellinger. His first credit was Navy Blues (1941), which he also wrote with Macaulay.[1]

Wald was associate producer on The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941), adapted by the Epsteins; All Through the Night (1942), with Bogart; Larceny, Inc. (1942) with Robinson; and Juke Girl (1942) with Sheridan and Ronald Reagan.

Wald was promoted to full producer, and soon established himself as one of the leading filmmakers on the lot: Across the Pacific (1942), with Bogart and director John Huston, written by Macaulay; George Washington Slept Here (1942) and The Hard Way (1943); he also contributed to the story of the latter, but had effectively given up writing.

Wald went on to produce Action in the North Atlantic (1943) with Bogart; Background to Danger (1943) with Raft; Destination Tokyo (1943) with Cary Grant and directed by Delmer Daves; In Our Time (1944) with Lupino; The Very Thought of You (1944) with Dennis Morgan and Eleanor Parker; Objective, Burma! (1945) with Errol Flynn; and Pride of the Marines (1945) with John Garfield.

Wald produced Joan Crawford's first film at Warners, Mildred Pierce (1945) which won her an Oscar and earned Wald an Oscar Nomination for Best Picture. He did her next film, Humoresque (1946), written by Clifford Odets and directed by Jean Negulesco.

Wald produced The Unfaithful (1947) with Ann Sheridan and director Vincent Sherman; Possessed (1947) with Crawford; Dark Passage (1947) with Bogart and Lauren Bacall for Daves; and To the Victor (1948) with Morgan and Dves.

He produced a series of classic films: Key Largo (1948) with Bogart, Bacall and Edward G. Robinson; Johnny Belinda (1948), which won an Oscar for star Jane Wyman; and The Adventures of Don Juan (1948) with Flynn.

Wald's credits then included One Sunday Afternoon (1949), with Morgan; John Loves Mary (1949) with Ronald Reagan; Flamingo Road (1949) with Crawford; Daves' Task Force (1949) with Gary Cooper; Always Leave Them Laughing (1949) with Milton Berle; and The Inspector General (1949) with Danny Kaye.

Wald produced Young Man with a Horn (1950) with Kirk Douglas; Perfect Strangers (1950) with Morgan and Ginger Rogers; Sherman's The Damned Don't Cry (1950) with Crawford; Caged (1950), with Eleanor Parker; the first adaptation of The Glass Menagerie (1950); The Breaking Point (1950), from a Hemingway novel, with Garfield; and Storm Warning (1951), an anti-Ku Klux Klan film with Rogers, Reagan and Doris Day.

An old story of his "Hot Air", shot as Twenty Million Sweethearts (1934), was filmed as the Day musical My Dream Is Yours (1949).

Wald-Krasna Productions[edit]

Wald and Norman Krasna formed Wald/Krasna Productions to release films through RKO Radio Pictures. Howard Hughes reportedly paid Warners $150,000 to release Wald from his contract with them. They were to make 12 films a year for five years with a budget of $50 million.[1]

Their movies together included Two Tickets to Broadway (1951), a musical; The Blue Veil (1951), with Jane Wyman; Behave Yourself! (1952), a comedy with Shelley Winters; The Lusty Men (1952), a rodeo drama with Robert Mitchum; and Clash by Night (1953), from a play by Clifford Odets. Wald did some uncredited producing on Macao (1952) with Robert Mitchum.

Krasna and Wald dissolved their partnership because of interference from Howard Hughes, then head of RKO, in their productions.

Columbia[edit]

Wald went over to Columbia in 1952 as vice president in charge of production.[1]

At Columbia he produced Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) starring Rita Hayworth; Queen Bee (1955) with Crawford, directed by Ranald MacDougall; The Harder They Fall (1956), Bogart's last movie; and The Eddy Duchin Story (1957), a biopic with Tyrone Power.

Jerry Wald Productions at 20th Century Fox[edit]

Wald signed a contract with 20th Century Fox where he established Jerry Wald Productions. He had a solid hit with An Affair to Remember (1957) starring Grant and Deborah Kerr, and some minor ones with No Down Payment (1957) directed by Martin Ritt, and Kiss Them for Me (1957) with Grant.

Wald had one of the biggest successes of his career with Peyton Place (1957), directed by Mark Robson.

Wald also produced The Long, Hot Summer (1958) with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward from the novel by William Faulkner for Ritt; In Love and War (1958), a war film with Robert Wagner and Jeffrey Hunter directed by Philip Dunne; Mardi Gras (1958) a musical with Pat Boone; and The Sound and the Fury (1959), more Faulkner from Ritt with Woodward and Yul Brynner.

During this time Wald told the press that a filmmaker's motto should be "Don't offend the innocent but don't frustrate the intelligent."[4]

Wald produced The Best of Everything (1959) with Crawford, directed by Negulesco; Hound-Dog Man (1959), an attempt to make a film star of Fabian Forte; Beloved Infidel (1959) with Kerr and Gregory Peck; The Story on Page One (1959), written and directed by Odets, starring Hayworth.

Final Films[edit]

Wald went to England to make Sons and Lovers (1960). Back in Hollywood he produced Let's Make Love (1961), Marilyn Monroe's penultimate film; Return to Peyton Place (1961); Wild in the Country (1961), an Elvis Presley film written by Odets and directed by Dunne; Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962) starring James Stewart and Fabian; Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man (1962) for Ritt with Richard Beymer; The Stripper (1963) with Woodward and Beymer.

He also produced the Academy Awards telecast twice, the ceremonies for 1957 and 1958.[5]

Among the films Wald was working on at the time of his death were adaptations of The Enemy Within, Ulysses and A High Wind in Jamaica.[1]

Awards[edit]

He received four Academy Award nominations as producer of the following nominees for Best Picture: Mildred Pierce, Johnny Belinda, Peyton Place and Sons and Lovers.[6] Although he never won a competitive Academy Award, he was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1949.[7]

Impact[edit]

Wald is often cited as the real-life inspiration for the character Sammy Glick in the novel What Makes Sammy Run by Budd Schulberg.

Jerry Wald, was a very close friend to Joan Crawford in the forties, offering her many parts including the title role in Mildred Pierce, which he produced. He convinced director Michael Curtiz that she would succeed in the role, which brought her the Oscar for Best Actress in 1946. Jerry Wald not only produced Mildred Pierce, but also Humoresque (1946), considered one of the best performances of Crawford's career, Across the Pacific (1942), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), Possessed (1947), Flamingo Road (1949), The Damned Don't Cry (1950). After her career at Warner's fizzled out slowly even though she wished to remain with Warner's, after years of reinventing herself, she bought out her contract. Afterwards, she bought the rights to a screenplay called Sudden Fear which brought her a third Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in 1953.

Jerry Wald remains as a great producer and after the movies he made with Joan Crawford, he kept going made very popular films such as the Eddy Duchin story.

Marriage[edit]

Wald married Constance Emily "Connie" Polan on December 25, 1941; the couple had two sons: Andrew and Robert.[8]

Death[edit]

Wald had been ill for the last few years of his life. He died, aged 50, at his home in Beverly Hills, California from a heart attack. His widow, Connie Wald (born August 13, 1916 – died November 10, 2012), was a California socialite and hostess; she was survived by her two sons and two grandchildren.[9]

Films as writer[edit]

Select Filmography as Producer[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Special to The New York Times. (1962, Jul 14). Jerry wald is dead; movie producer, 49. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/116133967?accountid=13902
  2. ^ Film producer jerry wald dies at his home after heart attack. (1962, Jul 14). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/168141532?accountid=13902
  3. ^ Cones, John. Motion Picture Biographies: The Hollywood Spin on Historical Figures. p. 42. ISBN 9781628941166. 
  4. ^ By, N. E. (1958, May 07). Wald to make film in boston. The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/509746979?accountid=13902
  5. ^ Jerry Wald credits at IMDb
  6. ^ Osborne, Robert (1994). 65 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards. London: Abbeville Press. pp. 88, 110, 147, and 164. ISBN 1-55859-715-8. 
  7. ^ Osborne, p. 131
  8. ^ Hollywood Reporter: "Connie Wald, Who Loved Having Hollywood Over for Dinner, Dies at 96" by Mike Barnes 11/17/2012
  9. ^ Connie Wald obituary in The New York Times

External links[edit]