- Category : 1886-births
- Type : PE
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Triple Split
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Service 4
Hungarian-born American film director, recognized as one of the most prolific directors in history. He directed classic films from the silent era and numerous others during Hollywood's Golden Age, when the studio system was prevalent.
Curtiz was already a well-known director in Europe when Warner Brothers invited him to Hollywood in 1926, when he was 38 years of age. He had already directed 64 films in Europe, and soon helped Warner Brothers become the fastest-growing movie studio. He directed 102 films during his Hollywood career, mostly at Warner Brothers, where he directed ten actors to Oscar nominations. James Cagney and Joan Crawford won their only Academy Awards under Curtiz's direction. He put Doris Day and John Garfield on screen for the first time, and he made stars of Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and Bette Davis. He himself was nominated five times and won twice, once as Best Director for Casablanca.
He introduced to Hollywood a unique visual style using artistic lighting, extensive and fluid camera movement, high crane shots, and unusual camera angles. He was versatile in that he could handle any kind of picture: melodrama, comedy, love story, film noir, musical, war story, Western, or historical epic. He always paid attention to the human interest aspect of every story, stating that the "human and fundamental problems of real people" were the basis of all good drama.
Curtiz helped popularize the classic swashbuckler with films such as Captain Blood (1935) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). He directed many dramas which today are also considered classics, Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), The Sea Wolf (1941), Casablanca (1942), and Mildred Pierce (1945). He directed leading musicals, including Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), This Is the Army (1943) and White Christmas, and he made comedies with Life With Father (1947) and We're No Angels (1955).
Around 1915 Curtiz married actress Lucy Doraine and they had a daughter born in December 1915. They divorced in 1923. He married his second wife, actress-singer Lili Damita, in 1925 and they divorced in 1926. When he left for the United States, he left behind an illegitimate son and an illegitimate daughter.
While Curtiz himself had escaped Europe before the rise of Nazism, other members of his family were not as lucky. He once asked Jack Warner, who was going to Budapest in 1938, to contact his family and help them get exit visas. Warner succeeded in getting Curtiz's mother to the U.S., where she spent the rest of her life living with her son. However, he could not rescue Curtiz's only sister, her husband, or their three children, who were sent to Auschwitz, where her husband and two of the children died.
Curtiz paid part of his own salary into the European Film Fund, a benevolent association which helped European refugees in the film business establish themselves in the U.S.
In 1933 Curtiz became a naturalized U.S. citizen. His third wife, Bess Meredyth, was an actress and screenwriter. Curtiz was frequently unfaithful, and had numerous affairs; Meredyth once left him for a short time, but they remained married from 1929 until 1961, shortly before Curtiz's death.
Curtiz died from cancer on "Tuesday night," 10 April 1962, aged 75, in Hollywood, California.