Hal B. Wallis

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Hal B. Wallis
HalWallis.jpg
Born Aaron Blum Wolowicz
(1898-10-19)October 19, 1898
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died October 5, 1986(1986-10-05) (aged 87)
Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.
Cause of death Diabetes
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Glendale, California[1]
Occupation Film producer
Years active 1931–1983
Spouse(s) Louise Fazenda
(m. 1927–1962; her death; 1 child)
Martha Hyer
(m. 1966–1986; his death)

Harold Brent Wallis (born Aaron Blum Wolowicz; October 19, 1898 – October 5, 1986) was an American film producer. He is best remembered for producing Casablanca (1942) and True Grit (1969), along with many other major films for Warner Bros. featuring such film stars as Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, and Errol Flynn.

Later on, for a long period, he was connected with Paramount Pictures and oversaw films featuring Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Elvis Presley, and John Wayne.

Life and career

Aaron Blum Wolowicz was born October 19, 1898[2] in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Eva (née Blum) and Jacob Wolowicz, Ashkenazi Jews from the Suwałki region of Poland who changed their surname to Wallis.[3][4][5]

His family moved in 1922 to Los Angeles, California, where he found work as part of the publicity department at Warner Bros. in 1923. Within a few years, Wallis became involved in the production end of the business and would eventually become head of production at Warner. In a career that spanned more than 50 years, he was involved with the production of more than 400 feature-length movies.

Among the more significant movies he produced were Casablanca, Dark Victory, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Maltese Falcon, Sergeant York, and Now, Voyager.

He left Warner Bros. in 1944, after a clash with Jack L. Warner over Warner's acceptance of the Best Picture Oscar for Casablanca, to work as an independent producer, enjoying considerable success both commercially and critically. The first screenwriters he hired for his new enterprise were Ayn Rand and Lillian Hellman.[6] Among his financial hits were the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedies, and several of Elvis Presley's movies.

He produced True Grit, for which John Wayne won the Academy Award for Best Actor of 1969, and its sequel.

After moving to Universal Pictures, he produced Mary, Queen of Scots (starring Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson) and Anne of the Thousand Days (starring Richard Burton and Canadian-born actress Geneviève Bujold). He received 16 Academy Award producer nominations for Best Picture, winning for Casablanca in 1943.

For his consistently high quality of motion picture production, he was twice honored with the Academy Awards' Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. He was also nominated for seven Golden Globe awards, twice winning awards for Best Picture. In 1975, he received the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures.

In 1980, he published his autobiography, Starmaker, cowritten with Charles Higham.

In the 1930s Mr. Wallis used his investment dollars to develop residential real estate in Sherman Oaks. He named one of the streets after himself using his nickname "Hal" and his nick-middle name "Brent". Halbrent Avenue, Sherman Oaks, CA is the street and most of the original homes are still standing today. Its very close to Ventura and Sepulveda Boulevards near the infamous Sherman Oaks Galleria used extensively in the 1982 movie romp Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Marriages

Wallis was married twice, to actress Louise Fazenda from 1927 until her death in 1962, and to actress Martha Hyer from 1966 until his death in 1986. he had one son with Fazenda, Brent Wallis http://www.nytimes.com/1989/05/18/arts/a-california-museum-sues-over-hal-wallis-collection.html?mcubz=0 .[7]

Death

Wallis died in 1986 of complications of diabetes in Rancho Mirage, California, at the age of 88. News of his passing was not released until after his private memorial service was completed. U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan (who had worked for Wallis in On Santa Fe Trail and This Is the Army) sent condolences to the family.[8] Wallis is interred in a crypt at the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

In popular culture

Wallis was portrayed by actor Bill Lake in the 2002 CBS television film Martin and Lewis.

Filmography

Academy Awards

Year Award Film Winner
1931–32 Outstanding Production Five Star Final Irving ThalbergGrand Hotel
1932–33 I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang Winfield SheehanCavalcade
1934 Flirtation Walk Harry CohnIt Happened One Night
1935 Captain Blood Irving Thalberg and Albert LewinMutiny on the Bounty
1938 The Adventures of Robin Hood Frank CapraYou Can't Take It With You
Four Daughters
Jezebel
1940 All This, and Heaven Too David O. SelznickRebecca
The Letter
1941 Outstanding Motion Picture The Maltese Falcon Darryl F. ZanuckHow Green Was My Valley
One Foot in Heaven
Sergeant York
1942 Kings Row Sidney FranklinMrs. Miniver
Yankee Doodle Dandy
1943 Casablanca Won
Watch on the Rhine Hal B. Wallis – Casablanca
1955 Best Motion Picture The Rose Tattoo Harold HechtMarty
1964 Best Picture Becket Jack L. WarnerMy Fair Lady
1969 Anne of the Thousand Days Jerome HellmanMidnight Cowboy

1938 and 1943 Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Awards

References

  1. ^ Hal B. Wallis at Find a Grave
  2. ^ Cook County Birth Certificates. Wallis's birthdate has commonly been given as September 14, 1898, but the official birth record shows October 19, 1898.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ http://www.filmreference.com/film/46/Hal-Wallis.html
  5. ^ U.S. World War I Draft Registration card for Harold Blum Wallis; 1900 Census entry for "Aaron Wollowitch" and 1910 Census entry for "Harold Wolowitz"
  6. ^ Berliner, Michael, ed., Letters of Ayn Rand, New York: Dutton, 1995, p. 148.
  7. ^ New York Times: "HAL B. WALLIS, FILM PRODUCER, IS DEAD" by Tim page October 8, 1986
  8. ^ "Producer Hall Wallis succumbs", Minden Press-Herald, Minden, Louisiana, October 8, 1986, p. 3B

External links

  • Hal B. Wallis on IMDb
  • Hal B. Wallis at the TCM Movie Database
  • Literature on Hal B. Wallis
  • Hal Wallis papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
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