George Stevens

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George Stevens
George Stevens with Oscar for Giant.jpg
Stevens with his Oscar for directing Giant
George Cooper Stevens

(1904-12-18)December 18, 1904
DiedMarch 8, 1975(1975-03-08) (aged 70)
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills)
Occupationdirector, cinematographer, actor, writer, producer
Years active1915–1970
Spouse(s) Yvonne Howell (1930–1947)
Joan McTavish (1968–1975)
Children George Stevens, Jr.
Awards Academy Award for Best Director

Legion of Merit
star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award
Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1954)
National Board of Review Award for Best Director


New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director
Military career
AllegianceFlag of the United States.svg  United States
Service/branch Flag of the United States Army with border.png United States Army
Years of service1943–1946
Rank US-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel
Unit US Army Signal Corps Coat of Arms.svg Army Signal Corps
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Legion of Merit ribbon.svg Legion of Merit
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal
L-R: George Stevens Jr., his father George Stevens, and composer Dimitri Tiomkin at premiere of Giant, October 11, 1956 George Stevens at Giant premiere.jpg
L-R: George Stevens Jr., his father George Stevens, and composer Dimitri Tiomkin at premiere of Giant , October 11, 1956

George Cooper Stevens (December 18, 1904 – March 8, 1975) was an American film director, producer, screenwriter and cinematographer. [1]

Among his most notable films are Swing Time (1936), The More the Merrier (1943; for which he was nominated for the Best Director Oscar), A Place in the Sun (1951; for which he won the Best Director Oscar), Shane (1953; nominated for the Best Director Oscar), Giant (1956; won the Best Director Oscar), and The Diary of Anne Frank (1959; nominated for the Best Director Oscar).


Film career

George Stevens [2] was born in Oakland, California, the son of Landers Stevens and Georgie Cooper, both stage actors. Drama critic Ashton Stevens and film director James W. Horne were his uncles. He also had two brothers, Jack, a cinematographer, and writer Aston Stevens. He learned about the stage from his parents and worked and toured with them on his path to filmmaking. He broke into the movie business as a cameraman, working on many Laurel and Hardy short films, such as Bacon Grabbers (1929) and Night Owls (1930). His first feature film was The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble in 1933.

Stevens with Barbara Bel Geddes on set of I Remember Mama (1948) George Stevens and Barbara Bel Geddes I Remember Mama.jpg
Stevens with Barbara Bel Geddes on set of I Remember Mama (1948)

In 1934, he got his first directing job, the slapstick Kentucky Kernels . His big break came when he directed Katharine Hepburn in Alice Adams in 1935. He went on in the late 1930s to direct several Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire movies, not only with the two actors together, but on their own. In 1940, he directed Carole Lombard in Vigil in the Night , and the film has an alternative ending for European audiences in recognition of World War II, which at the time the U.S. had not yet entered.

During World War II, Stevens joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps and headed a film unit from 1943 to 1946, under General Eisenhower. [3] His unit shot footage documenting D-Day—including the only Allied European Front color film of the war—the liberation of Paris and the meeting of American and Soviet forces at the Elbe River, as well as horrific scenes from the Duben labor camp and the Dachau concentration camp. Stevens also helped prepare the Duben and Dachau footage and other material for presentation during the Nuremberg Trials. [4] In 2008, his footage was entered into the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as an "essential visual record" of World War II. [5] [6]

One result of his World War II experiences was that his subsequent films became more dramatic. The motion picture I Remember Mama from 1948 was the last movie that he made with comic scenes. He was responsible for such classic films as A Place in the Sun , Shane , The Diary of Anne Frank , Giant and The Greatest Story Ever Told . He ended his directing career with the 1970 film The Only Game in Town with Warren Beatty and Elizabeth Taylor. In that same year, he was head of the jury at the 20th Berlin International Film Festival, which ended in scandal. [7] [8] In 1973 he was a member of the jury at the 8th Moscow International Film Festival. [9]

Personal life

Stevens was the father of television and film writer-producer-director George Stevens, Jr., the first CEO and director of the American Film Institute. George Jr. produced and directed the documentary about his father George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey in 1984 and is the father of Stevens's grandson Michael Stevens (1966–2015), who was also a television and film producer-director.


Stevens died following a heart attack on March 8, 1975, on his ranch in Lancaster, California, north of Los Angeles. He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles. [10]


As a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, Stevens headed the U.S. Army Signal Corps unit that filmed the Normandy landings and the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. For these contributions, he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

Stevens has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1701 Vine Street. He won the Academy Award for Best Director twice, in 1951 for A Place in the Sun and in 1956 for Giant . He was also nominated in 1943 for The More the Merrier , in 1954 for Shane , and in 1959 for The Diary of Anne Frank .


The moving image collection of George Stevens is held at the Academy Film Archive. The film material at the Academy Film Archive is complemented by material in the George Stevens papers at the Academy's Margaret Herrick Library. [11]


YearTitleProduction Co.CastNotes
1930"Ladies Last" Hal Roach Studios 3rd episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931"Blood and Thunder" Hal Roach Studios 4th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931"High Gear" Hal Roach Studios 5th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931"Air-Tight" Hal Roach Studios 7th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931"Call a Cop!" Hal Roach Studios 8th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931"Mama Loves Papa" Hal Roach Studios 9th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931"The Kick-Off!" Hal Roach Studios 10th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1932"Who, Me?" Universal Short film
1932"The Finishing Touch" Universal Short film
1932"Boys Will Be Boys" Universal Short film
1933"Family Troubles" Universal Short film
1933"Rock-a-Bye Cowboy" Universal Short film
1933"Should Crooners Marry" Universal Short film
1933 The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble Universal George Sidney/ Charles Murray Part of "The Cohens and Kellys" comedy series
1933"Room Mates" Universal Short film
"Quiet Please!" RKO Short film
1933"Flirting in the Park" RKO June Brewster/ Carol Tevis Part of "The Blonde and The Redhead" comedy series
1933"What Fur" RKO Edgar Kennedy/Florence Lake Short film
1933"Walking Back Home" RKO June Brewster/ Carol Tevis Short film
1933"Grin and Bear It" RKO Edgar Kennedy/Florence Lake Short film
1933"A Divorce Courtship" Universal Short film
1934"Bridal Bail" RKO June Brewster/ Carol Tevis Part of "The Blonde and The Redhead" comedy series
1934"The Undie-World" RKO June Brewster/ Carol Tevis Part of "The Blonde and The Redhead" comedy series
1934"Strictly Fresh Yeggs" RKO Tom Kennedy/Will Stanton Short film
1934"Rough Necking" RKO June Brewster/Carol Tevis Short film
1934"Cracked Shots" RKO Short film
1934 Bachelor Bait RKO Stuart Erwin/ Rochelle Hudson
1934"Ocean Swells" RKO Short film
1934 Kentucky Kernels RKO Robert Woolsey/ Bert Wheeler/ George McFarland
1935"Hunger Pains" RKO June Brewster/ Carol Tevis Part of "The Blonde and The Redhead" comedy series
1935 Laddie RKO
1935 The Nitwits RKO Robert Woolsey/ Bert Wheeler/ Betty Grable
1935 Alice Adams RKO Katharine Hepburn/ Fred MacMurray
1935 Annie Oakley RKO Barbara Stanwyck
1936 Swing Time RKO Fred Astaire/ Ginger Rogers
1937 Quality Street RKO Katharine Hepburn/ Franchot Tone
1937 A Damsel in Distress RKO Fred Astaire/ Joan Fontaine/ George Burns/ Gracie Allen
1938 Vivacious Lady RKO Ginger Rogers/ Jimmy Stewart
1939 Gunga Din RKO Cary Grant/ Douglas Fairbanks Jr./ Victor McLaglen/ Joan Fontaine
1940 Vigil in the Night RKO Carole Lombard/ Brian Aherne/ Anne Shirley
1941 Penny Serenade Columbia Cary Grant/ Irene Dunne
1942 Woman of the Year MGM Spencer Tracy/ Katharine Hepburn
1942 The Talk of the Town Columbia Cary Grant/ Jean Arthur/ Ronald Colman
1943 The More the Merrier Columbia Jean Arthur/ Charles Coburn/ Joel McCrea
1948 I Remember Mama RKO Irene Dunne
1951 A Place in the Sun Paramount Montgomery Clift/ Elizabeth Taylor/ Shelley Winters
1952 Something to Live For Paramount Joan Fontaine/ Ray Milland/
1953 Shane Paramount Alan Ladd/ Jean Arthur/ Van Heflin Technicolor film
1956 Giant Warner Bros. Elizabeth Taylor/ Rock Hudson/ James Dean Warnercolor film
1959 The Diary of Anne Frank 20th Century Fox Millie Perkins/ Joseph Schildkraut/ Shelley Winters
1965 The Greatest Story Ever Told George Stevens Prod. Max von Sydow/ Charlton Heston/ Telly Savalas/ Ultra Panavision 70 Technicolor film
1970 The Only Game in Town 20th Century Fox Elizabeth Taylor/ Warren Beatty Color film

Other work

YearTitleProduction Co.Notes
1934 Hollywood Party MGM Was among 8 directors supervising sequences for the film.
1945"That Justice Be Done"War Activities Committee Documentary/ Short film
1945 Nazi Concentration Camps Documentary
1948 On Our Merry Way Miracle Productions Anthology film/ Co-directed a sequence

Academy Awards

1942 Outstanding Motion Picture The Talk of the Town Sidney Franklin Mrs. Miniver
1943 Outstanding Motion Picture The More the Merrier Hal B. Wallis Casablanca
Best Director Michael Curtiz Casablanca
1951 Best Motion Picture A Place in the Sun Arthur Freed An American in Paris
Best Director Won
1953 Best Motion Picture Shane Buddy Adler From Here to Eternity
Best Director Fred Zinnemann From Here to Eternity
Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award Won
1956 Best Motion Picture Giant Mike Todd Around the World in 80 Days
Best Director Won
1959 Best Motion Picture The Diary of Anne Frank Sam Zimbalist Ben-Hur (Posthumous)
Best Director William Wyler Ben-Hur


  1. Obituary Variety , March 12, 1975, page 79.
  2. "George Stevens | American director". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved May 18, 2019.
  3. Sinyard, Neil (2019). George Stevens: The Films Of a Hollywood Giant. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 91. ISBN   9781476636603.
  4. Robert E. Conot, Justice at Nuremberg, page 197
  5. Library of Congress "Cinematic Classics, Legendary Stars, Comedic Legends and Novice Filmmakers Showcase the 2008 Film Registry" News from the Library of Congress (30 December 2008)
  6. "Complete National Film Registry Listing | Film Registry | National Film Preservation Board | Programs at the Library of Congress | Library of Congress". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  7. "Berlinale 1970: Juries". Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  8. "Berlinale 1970: Yearbook". Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  9. "8th Moscow International Film Festival (1973)". MIFF. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
  10. She Could Be Chaplin!: The Comedic Brilliance of Alice Howell
  11. "George Stevens Collection". Academy Film Archive.

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Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
George Seaton
President of Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences
Succeeded by
B. B. Kahane