David O. Selznick

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David O. Selznick (1940)

David O. Selznick (born May 10, 1902 in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania as David Selznick , † June 22, 1965 in Hollywood , Los Angeles ) was an American film producer . Among his most famous films include King Kong and the white woman , Gone with the Wind , Rebecca , Spellbound and duel in the sun . In the 1930s and 1940s he owned Selznick International Pictures, his own film studio. He was known as a perfectionist producer who carefully controlled and monitored even the smallest details of his films.


Selznick comes from a Jewish family , his father was the silent film director Lewis J. Selznick . Selznick added the "O" to his name on a whim. After dropping out of Columbia University in New York, he began working as a script editor and assistant director at MGM in the 1920s . Selznick worked for Paramount over the years , where he produced several successful films with Ruth Chatterton , and RKO . There he was responsible for successes such as Graf Zaroff - Genie des Evil , Bird of Paradise and King Kong and the white woman . After marrying Irene Mayer, Louis B. Mayer's daughter , he went to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1933 . He was mainly lured with the promise to produce a film with Greta Garbo . Both agreed on Anna Karenina .

Garbo was very satisfied with the result and wanted Selznick as a permanent producer, but after the success of the Dickens films Escape from Paris and David Copperfield , he decided to found his own production company Selznick International Pictures in 1936 . Their productions were loaned to the cinemas by United Artists . He had his first successes with The Prisoner of Zenda , A Star Rises and Intermezzo with Ingrid Bergman . Selznick's greatest success was Gone with the Wind in 1939 after almost three years of preparation . He bought the rights to the novel for $ 50,000 in 1936 before it was published. The first pictures used in the film were taken in 1938. Selznick wanted to rebuild his studio area and let it burn down completely. He used the footage of it for the Atlanta fire in Gone With the Wind . At this point, the roles had not been cast and the script was not yet ready. In the end, Gone with the Wind won ten Academy Awards , including the award for best film of the year and, adjusted for inflation, is the most successful film ever.

For Rebecca , directed by Alfred Hitchcock , Selznick was again awarded the Oscar for best film at the 1941 Academy Awards . In addition to his own films, he placed stars who were exclusively under contract with him, including Ingrid Bergman, Joan Fontaine and Joseph Cotten , to other film studios. Years later, Ingrid Bergman found that she had considered this practice, in which she had no influence on the respective projects, as modern slavery. Selznick's production company Selznick International, however, despite its film success as a small company in the oligopoly of the studio system, hardly made any profit, which is why he initiated a dissolution. However, after the contract with United Artists, Selznick had to produce more films and shot lavish material such as the home front drama When you said goodbye , the Hitchcock thriller I fight for you and in particular the western epic Duel in the Sun , which led to the success of Gone With the Wind should tie in, but only partially succeeded. At least since Jenny's failure at the box office in 1948, his productions increasingly turned out to be losing money. In 1954 he tried his hand at television as a producer of the very lavish show Light's Diamond Jubile , which ran simultaneously on all four US television channels available at the time. After the artistic and financial failure of the Hemingway film adaptation in another country , he withdrew from business entirely.

After divorcing Irene Mayer, David O. Selznick married actress Jennifer Jones in 1949 , who starred in a number of his films. They had a daughter together. Selznick died of a heart attack in 1965. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7000 Hollywood Blvd. commemorates the film producer.

Filmography (selection)

Awards (selection)


° The 1939 Academy Awards was the only one to have multiple nominees for the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Zeitzeichen on Selznick
  2. David O. Selznick: Rudy Behlmer (Ed.): Memo from David O. Selznick . Modern Library, New York 2000, ISBN 0-375-75531-4 , p. 3.