Known For: Writing · Birthday: 1898-08-29
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Preston Sturges (; born Edmund Preston Biden; August 29, 1898 – August 6, 1959) was an American playwright, screenwriter, and film director. In 1941, he won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the film The Great McGinty, his first of three nominations in the category. Sturges took the screwball comedy format of the 1930s to another level, writing dialogue that, heard today, is often surprisingly naturalistic, mature, and ahead of its time, despite the farcical situations. It is not uncommon for a Sturges character to deliver an exquisitely turned phrase and take an elaborate pratfall within the same scene. Prior to Sturges, other figures in Hollywood (such as Charlie Chaplin, D. W. Griffith, and Frank Capra) had directed films from their own scripts, however Sturges is often regarded as the first Hollywood figure to establish success as a screenwriter and then move into directing his own scripts, at a time when those roles were separate. Sturges famously sold the story for The Great McGinty to Paramount Pictures for $1, in return for being allowed to direct the film.
Sturges married four times and had three sons: Estelle deWolfe Mudge – married in December 1923, separated in 1927, divorced in 1928 Eleanor Close Hutton (a daughter of Marjorie Merriweather Post) – eloped on April 12, 1930, marriage annulled on April 12, 1932 Louise Sargent Tevis – married on November 7, 1938 in Reno, Nevada, separated in April 1946, divorced in November 1947 son Solomon Sturges IV (b. June 25, 1941) – actor Anne Margaret "Sandy" Nagle (a lawyer and former actress) – married on April 15, 1951, marriage ended in 1959 with Sturges' death, mother of his two younger sons Preston Sturges Jr. (b. February 22, 1953) – screenwriter Thomas Preston Sturges (b. June 22, 1956) – music executive
Sturges was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Mary Estelle Dempsey (later known as Mary Desti or Mary D'Este) and travelling salesman Edmund C. Biden. His maternal grandparents, Catherine Campbell Smyth and Dominick d'Este Dempsey, were immigrants from Ireland, and his father was of English descent.When Sturges was three years old, his eccentric mother left America to pursue a singing career in Paris, where she annulled her marriage with Preston's father. Returning to America, Dempsey met her third husband, the wealthy stockbroker Solomon Sturges, who adopted Preston in 1902. According to biographers, Solomon Sturges was "diametrically opposite to Mary and her bohemianism". This included her close friendship with Isadora Duncan, as the young Sturges would sometimes travel from country to country with Duncan's dance company. Mary also carried on a romantic affair with Aleister Crowley and collaborated with him on his magnum opus Magick. As a young man, Sturges bounced back and forth between Europe and the United States. As Sturges spent much of his childhood and youth in France, he ended up fluent in French and a Francophile who always considered France his "second home".In 1916, he worked as a runner for New York stock brokers, a position he obtained through Solomon Sturges. The next year, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Service, and graduated as a lieutenant from Camp Dick in Texas without seeing action. While at camp, Sturges wrote an essay, "Three Hundred Words of Humor", which was printed in the camp newspaper, becoming his first published work. Returning from camp, Sturges picked up a managing position at the Desti Emporium in New York, a store owned by his mother's fourth husband. He spent eight years (1919–1927) there, until he married the first of his four wives, Estelle De Wolfe.
Movies & TV Series
The Great Moment
The biography of Dr.W.T.Morgan, a 19th century Boston dentist, during his quest to have anesthesia, in the form of ether, accepted by the public and the medical and dental establishment.
Hail the Conquering Hero
Having been discharged from the Marines for a hayfever condition before ever seeing action, Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith (Eddie Bracken) delays the return to his hometown, feeling that he is a...
The Palm Beach Story
Gerry and Tom Jeffers are finding married life hard. Tom is an inventor/ architect and there is little money for them to live on. They are about to be thrown out of their apartment when Gerry meets ri...
I Married a Witch
Rocksford, New England, 1672. Puritan witch hunter Jonathan Wooley is cursed after burning a witch at the stake: his descendants will never find happiness in their marriages. At present, politician Wa...
Star Spangled Rhythm
Pop, a security guard at Paramount has told his son that he's the head of the studio. When his son arrives in Hollywood on shore leave with his buddies, Pop enlists the aid of the studio's dizzy switc...
Successful movie director John L. Sullivan, convinced he won't be able to film his ambitious masterpiece until he has suffered, dons a hobo disguise and sets off on a journey, aiming to "know trouble"...
Safeguarding Military Information
World War II propaganda short which focuses on the dangers of inadvertent dispersal of military information.
The Lady Eve
It's no accident when wealthy Charles falls for Jean. Jean is a con artist with her sights set on Charles' fortune. Matters complicate when Jean starts falling for her mark. When Charles suspects Jean...
Remember the Night
When John, an assistant District Attorney, takes Lee, a shoplifter caught in the act, home with him for Christmas, the unexpected happens and love blossoms.
The Great McGinty
Told in flashback, Depression-era bum Dan McGinty is recruited by the city's political machine to help with vote fraud. His great aptitude for this brings rapid promotion from "the boss," who finally ...
Christmas in July
An office clerk loves entering contests in the hopes of someday winning a fortune and marrying the girl he loves. His latest attempt is the Maxford House Coffee Slogan Contest. As a joke, some of his ...
If I Were King
King Louis XI masquerades as a commoner in Paris, seeking out the treachery he is sure lurks in his kingdom. At a local tavern, he overhears the brash poet François Villon extolling why he would be a ...
Port of Seven Seas
In the French port of Marseille, a young woman named Madelon is in love with a young sailor, Marius. Discovering she is pregnant after Marius sets out to sea for several years, she marries another man...
Thirty Day Princess
A European princess arrives in New York City to secure a much-needed loan for her country. She contracts the mumps, and an actress who looks exactly like her is hired to impersonate her.
Oscar Jaffe is a successful Broadway director, Lily Garland his biggest star. When she leaves his direction, his success goes with her. When he recognizes her aboard the Twentieth Century Limited, the...