The Great Ziegfeld is a 1936 musical film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and directed by Robert Z. Leonard. It is a fictionalized biography of Florenz Ziegfeld from his early life until his death. The film includes an original score by Walter Donaldson and Irving Berlin.
The film stars William Powell, Myrna Loy, Luise Rainer, Nat Pendleton, Frank Morgan and Virginia Bruce. Fanny Brice and Ray Bolger also appear under their real names.
Luise Rainer (Düsseldorf, Germany, January 12, 1910 – London, United Kingdom, December 30, 2014)1 was a German actress who became a naturalized American and British citizen and two-time Oscar winner.
She held the double record of being the youngest actress to win two consecutive Oscars, at 28, and the longest-lived recipient.
She left Hollywood at the height of her success. There are several theories as to why Rainer left the film industry in 1938. For example, it is written that after this, there were no more film roles that would be suitable for her. Another source reports that Mayer fired her and blacklisted her after she asked for better film roles. Rainer herself said in an interview that she could no longer tolerate it in Hollywood and decided to leave the film industry herself.
She was considered in 1936 to star in the film Camille (Marguerite Gautier) but the role went to Greta Garbo, whom Rainer would later “snatch” the Oscar. She was also proposed for the title role in Gone with the Wind (played by Vivien Leigh) and Federico Fellini wrote a scene for her in La dolce vita that was never filmed.
She wrote: “For my second and third films I won the Academy Award. Nothing worse could have happened to me. The Oscar is not a curse. The real curse is that once you win the Oscar, they think you can do anything”.
Meshilem Weisenfreund, known as Paul Muni, is an American actor of Austro-Hungarian origin born in Lemberg (kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria) on September 22, 1895 and died in Montecito (California) on August 25, 1967.
His family, of Polish Jewish descent, emigrated to the United States in 1902. His acting career began at the age of 12 when he joined his parents, actors, on the stage of the Yiddish theater in Chicago, the first time to interpret the role of an old man.
He made his film debut in 1929 in The Valiant.
His roles as gangsters Tony Camonte (in Howard Hawks’ first version of Scarface in 1932) and James Allen (in Mervyn LeRoy’s I’m an Escapee, the same year) brought him to fame in the early days of sound film. His gift for composition was further illustrated in his interpretations of the most diverse historical characters in biographical films such as Doctor Socrates, The Life of Louis Pasteur, The Life of Emile Zola, Juarez, all signed by William Dieterle.
Francesco Rosario (Frank) Capra (Bisacquino, May 18, 1897 – La Quinta, September 3, 1991) was an American film director, widely regarded as one of the most important directors of the 1930s and 1940s. He is considered the founder of two successful film genres: the romantic comedy and the feel-good film.
His films are characterized by a very positive, sometimes childishly naive view of the world and a fondness for the petty bourgeois world of ordinary people. The big world in which everything revolves around power and money is often criticized in a satirical way. In addition, his films can also be recognized by a clear fondness for the United States. As a filmmaker, Capra did not shy away from incorporating a heavy dose of nationalism and patriotism into his films.
Although Capra made more than 30 films, his name lives on primarily through four films that are considered classics today: It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and It’s a Wonderful Life (1947).
Edith Holm (Gale) Sondergaard is an American actress, of Danish origin, born February 15, 1899 in Litchfield, Minnesota, and died August 14, 1985 in Woodland Hills (Los Angeles).
Gale Sondergaard was the wife of director Herbert J. Biberman, author of the famous social film Salt of the Earth (1954). She made her film acting debut in 1936, in Anthony Adverse, slave trader, by Mervyn LeRoy. She immediately won an Oscar for best supporting actor.
In the 1950s, like her husband Herbert J. Biberman, accused of communism, she was one of the victims of McCarthyism and blacklisted from the cinema, hence the “hollow” visible in her filmography. She reappeared, after years of absence, in the final film of her companion Herbert J. Biberman The Black Mistress / Slavs in 1969, and then worked for television.
Walter Andrew Brennan (Lynn, Massachusetts, July 25, 1894-Oxnard, California, September 21, 1974) was an American actor, known for being one of only three men (along with Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day-Lewis) to win three Best Actor Oscars.
Brennan was born in Lynn, Massachusetts. He was the second of three children in a family of Irish immigrants. He studied engineering at Rindge Technical High School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After staying at the front in Europe during World War I, in 1923 he obtained his first role as an extra. During the 1920s he made his fortune in real estate but lost most of his savings due to the Great Depression.
Already in the 1930s he got his first important roles that would lead him to belong to the immortals of cinema. Often his roles involved the interpretation of older characters because due to an accident in 1932 he lost most of his teeth (that’s why he wore false teeth as can be seen in Rio Bravo), as well as the loss of hair and his thinness invited to think that he was older than he really was. He received his Oscars for the films “Rivals” (1936) directed by Howard Hawks; Kentucky (1938) directed by David Butler and The Westerner (1940) directed by William Wyler. These three awards made him the first actor to win three Academy Awards. He was nominated on another occasion, for Sergeant York (1942). In addition, Walter Brennan’s career never declined and what is more, in the 50’s and 60’s he participated in television. His contribution to the cinema and television amounted to more than 240 roles over almost five decades.
He was the eternal sidekick of the hero, a role that allowed him to appear alongside, among others, Gary Cooper, John Wayne or Humphrey Bogart. He married actress Ruth Wells (1897-1997), a marriage that would last until the end of his days, they had three children, a girl (Ruth Brennan) and two boys (Andrew and Arthur Brennan). Film critics say that his great performance was in the film Rio Bravo (1959) by Howard Hawks, where he played an old crippled companion of John Wayne and Dean Martin.
Walter Brennan died of pulmonary emphysema at the age of eighty. His remains rest in San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Los Angeles. For his contribution to the television industry, Walter Brennan has a star on the Walk of Fame at 6501 Hollywood Boulevard.