May 1, 1905
|Died||September 21, 1988 83) (aged|
Camarillo, California, U.S.
|Occupation(s)||director, screenwriter, producer|
|Spouse(s)||Kató Király (1935–1941; divorced; 1 child)  |
Peggy Moran (1942–1988; his death; 2 children) 
Henry Koster (born Hermann Kosterlitz, May 1, 1905 – September 21, 1988) was a German-born film director. He was the husband of actress Peggy Moran.
Koster was born to Jewish parents in Berlin, Germany. He was introduced to cinema around the year 1910 when his uncle opened a movie theater in Berlin. Koster's mother played the piano to accompany the films, leaving the young boy to occupy himself by watching the films. After working initially as a short story writer, Kosterlitz was hired by a Berlin movie company as scenarist, becoming an assistant to director Curtis Bernhardt. Bernhardt became sick one day and asked Kosterlitz to take over as director.
In 1932, Koster directed his first film in Berlin, the comedy Thea Roland . Koster, who was in the midst of directing his second film Das häßliche Mädchen , had been the subject of antisemitism, and knew he had to leave. He lost his temper at an SA officer at his bank during lunch hour and knocked the officer out. When the film, written by Koster with Felix Joachimson, had its premiere in autumn 1933 their names were deleted and both went into exile.
Koster left Germany for France, where he was rehired by Bernhardt (who had left earlier). Eventually Koster went to Budapest and met and married Kató Király in 1934. In Budapest he met Joe Pasternak again, who represented Universal in Europe, and directed three films for him. One of those films was Catherine the Last after a script by Joachimson and Károly Nóti that was remade in 1938 by Norman Taurog as The Girl Downstairs , both versions starring Franciska Gaal. In 1935 Koster received a letter from his friend Gabriel Levy, who asked him to direct a Dutch picture. Unwilling to move to the Netherlands, Koster cabled him "I'm sorry, I'm terribly busy. Besides, I'm now charging a salary which is too much for your small production. If you want to know what my salary is, I make 25.000 dollars for a picture." To his great surprise, Levy cabled him back agreeing to pay him the amount. Thus Koster ended up directing De Kribbebijter , released internationally as The Cross-Patch. 
In 1936 Koster got a contract to work with Universal Pictures in Hollywood, and he traveled to the United States to work with Pasternak, other refugees and his wife. Although Koster did not speak English, he convinced the studio to let him make Three Smart Girls , for which he personally coached 14-year-old star Deanna Durbin. This picture, a big success, pulled Universal out of bankruptcy. Koster's second Universal film, One Hundred Men and a Girl , with Durbin and Leopold Stokowski also was successful. [ citation needed ]
Koster discovered Abbott and Costello working at a nightclub in New York. He returned to Hollywood and convinced Universal to hire them. [ citation needed ] Their first picture, which featured the Who's On First? routine, was One Night in the Tropics . The female lead, Peggy Moran, became Koster's second wife in 1942. When he married Moran, Koster promised her he would put her in every movie he made. He did, but it was her statue. Usually it is a sculptured head on a mantelpiece or a piano or desk. For The Robe, he commissioned a Grecian bust which appears prominently in a Roman villa.
Henry Koster went on to do numerous musicals and family comedies during the late 1930s and early 1940s, with Durbin, Betty Grable, and other musical stars of the era. He and Joe Pasternak filmed a successful screen test for Universal's newest singing star, Gloria Jean, but Koster would never direct one of her features; when Pasternak left Universal for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in June 1941, Koster went with him. Ironically, despite Koster's escape from Nazi Germany, when the United States entered World War II Koster was considered an enemy alien and had to stay in his house in the evening. Actor Charles Laughton would visit Koster and play chess with him.
Koster's postwar career was equally successful. He was nominated for an Academy Award for The Bishop's Wife (1947). In 1950, he directed the James Stewart comedy Harvey . He directed Richard Burton's first U.S. film, My Cousin Rachel , and then in 1953, he was given The Robe , the first CinemaScope film, and Koster's biggest box office hit. He directed more costume dramas, including Désirée (1954) with Marlon Brando, The Virgin Queen (1955) with Bette Davis, The Naked Maja (1958) with Ava Gardner and The Story of Ruth (1960) with Elana Eden, then returned to family comedies and musicals, including Flower Drum Song for Universal in 1961. His last picture was The Singing Nun in 1965. Koster retired to Leisure Village in Camarillo, California, where he painted a series of portraits of the movie stars with whom he worked.
Although Koster never won an Oscar, he directed six different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Cecil Kellaway, Loretta Young, Celeste Holm, Elsa Lanchester, Josephine Hull, James Stewart and Richard Burton. Hull won the Oscar for Harvey.
He died of liver cancer.  
Some of Koster's home movies are part of the collection of the Academy Film Archive. The archive has preserved a number of these home movies, including behind-the-scenes footage from some of Koster's films. 
Three Smart Girls is a 1936 American musical comedy film directed by Henry Koster and starring Barbara Read, Nan Grey, Deanna Durbin, and Ray Milland. The film's screenplay was written by Adele Comandini and Austin Parker, and is about three sisters who travel to New York City to prevent their father from remarrying. The three plot to bring their divorced parents back together again.
One Hundred Men and a Girl is a 1937 American musical comedy film directed by Henry Koster and starring Deanna Durbin and the maestro Leopold Stokowski. Written by Charles Kenyon, Bruce Manning, and James Mulhauser from a story by Hanns Kräly, the film is about the daughter of a struggling musician who forms a symphony orchestra consisting of his unemployed friends. Through persistence, charm, and a few misunderstandings, they are able to get famed conductor Leopold Stokowski to lead them in a concert, which leads to a radio contract. One Hundred Men and a Girl was the first of two motion pictures featuring Leopold Stokowski, and is also one of the films for which Durbin is best remembered as an actress and a singer.
Edna Mae Durbin, known professionally as Deanna Durbin, was a Canadian-born actress and singer, who moved to the USA with her family in infancy. She appeared in musical films in the 1930s and 1940s. With the technical skill and vocal range of a legitimate lyric soprano, she performed many styles from popular standards to operatic arias.
George Brent was an Irish-American stage, film, and television actor. He is best remembered for the eleven films he made with Bette Davis, which included Jezebel and Dark Victory.
László Benedek was a Hungarian-born film director and cinematographer, most notable for directing The Wild One (1953).
Joseph Herman Pasternak was a Hungarian-American film producer in Hollywood. Pasternak spent the Hollywood "Golden Age" of musicals at MGM Studios, producing many successful musicals with female singing stars like Deanna Durbin, Kathryn Grayson and Jane Powell, as well as swimmer/bathing beauty Esther Williams' films. He produced Judy Garland's final MGM film, Summer Stock, which was released in 1950, and some of Gene Kelly’s early breakthrough roles. Pasternak worked in the film industry for 45 years, from the later silent era until shortly past the end of the classical Hollywood cinema in the early 1960s.
Educational Pictures, also known as Educational Film Exchanges, Inc. or Educational Films Corporation of America, was an American film production and film distribution company founded in 1916 by Earle Hammons (1882–1962). Educational primarily distributed short subjects; it is best known for its series of comedies starring Buster Keaton (1934-37) and the earliest screen appearances of Shirley Temple (1932-34). The company ceased production in 1938, and finally closed in 1940 when its film library was sold at auction.
Curtis Bernhardt was a German film director born in Worms, Germany, under the name Kurt Bernhardt.
Norman Krasna was an American screenwriter, playwright, producer, and film director who penned screwball comedies centered on a case of mistaken identity. Krasna directed three films during a forty-year career in Hollywood. He garnered four Academy Award screenwriting nominations, winning once for 1943's Princess O'Rourke, which he also directed.
Felix Bressart was a German-American actor of stage and screen.
George E. Stone was a Polish-born American character actor in films, radio, and television.
Seton Ingersoll Miller was an American screenwriter and producer. During his career, he worked with film directors such as Howard Hawks and Michael Curtiz. Miller received two Oscar nominations and won once for Best Screenplay for fantasy romantic comedy film Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) along with Sidney Buchman.
Mad About Music is a 1938 American musical film directed by Norman Taurog and starring Deanna Durbin, Herbert Marshall, and Gail Patrick. Based on a story by Marcella Burke and Frederick Kohner, the film is about a girl at an exclusive boarding school who invents an exciting father. When her schoolmates doubt his existence, she has to produce him. Mad About Music received Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Music, and Best Original Story.
It Started with Eve is a 1941 American musical romantic comedy film directed by Henry Koster and starring Deanna Durbin, Robert Cummings, and Charles Laughton. The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Music Score. The film is considered by some critics to be Durbin's best film, and the last in which she worked with the producer and director who groomed her for stardom. It Started with Eve was remade in 1964 as I'd Rather Be Rich.
I'll Be Yours is a 1947 American musical comedy film directed by William A. Seiter and starring Deanna Durbin. Based on the play A jó tündér by Ferenc Molnár, the film is about a small-town girl who tells a fib to a wealthy businessman, which then creates complications. The play had earlier been adapted for the 1935 film The Good Fairy by Preston Sturges.
Spring Parade is a 1940 American musical comedy film directed by Henry Koster and starring Deanna Durbin. It is a remake of the 1934 film.
Das häßliche Mädchen is a German comedy film made in early 1933, during the transition from the Weimar Republic to Nazi Germany, and premièred in September that year. It was the first or second film directed by Hermann Kosterlitz, who left Germany before the film was completed and later worked in the United States under the name Henry Koster, and the last German film in which Dolly Haas appeared; she also later emigrated to the US. A riot broke out at the première to protest the male lead, Max Hansen, who was supposedly "too Jewish." The film's representation of the "ugly girl" as outsider has been described as a metaphorical way to explore the outsider existence of Jews.
Felix Jackson was a German-born American screenwriter and film producer.
Hans Wilhelm was a German screenwriter. Wilhelm was of Jewish heritage, and was forced to emigrate following the Nazi takeover in 1933. After going into exile he worked in a variety of countries including Britain, France, and Turkey before eventually settling in the United States. He later returned to work in West Germany following the Second World War.