Edward Buzzell (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 07, 2022

Eddie Buzzell, as a boy in high school, discovered that he had mannerisms that made people laugh. So he gave up the idea of becoming an engineer and set about becoming a comedian. As a result he is today one of the best known film directors in Hollywood, currently under long-term contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Like many ace directors, he reached directorship by a circuitous route that included vaudeville and Broadway musical shows, acting in pictures, and writing, with a little radio thrown in for good measure.

Buzzell was born in Brooklyn, New York, November 12, the son of a business man. As a youngster he had an aptness for mechanics, and, when he entered high school, had engineering in view. School dramatic shows interested him. Soon he had the reputation of being the school’s star comedian.

Vaudeville Headliner

He hunted up a vaudeville agent and strutted his stuff. He was given some engagements. He got together an act with some other talented youngsters, wrote their material himself, and soon was headlining.

Then he starred in seven Broadway musical shows, with vaudeville engagements in between, using skits written by himself. It was through vaudeville that he came to the new field of talking pictures, then just starting, first to present his acts for musical shorts. One of his first was a colortone subject filmed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He played the title role in the feature production, “Little Johnny Jones,” in “Hello Thar,” “Keeping Company” and “The Royal Fourflusher,” staged a series of shorts for Vitagraph, and was then signed by Columbia to direct. For this firm he made “Big Timer,” “Hollywood Speaks” and “Virtue,” then, after “Ann Carver’s Profession,” joined Universal, where he collaborated on the story then directed “Love, Honor and Oh, Baby,” “Cross Country Cruise,” “The Human Side,” “Transient Lady” and others.

Signs M-G-M Contract

These led to his being signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where several important assignments were scheduled for him.

During his stage days he married Ona Munson, Broadway stage beauty. He lives in Beverly Hills, and his principal activity aside from pictures is golf. He is one of the screen colony’s greatest experts at the game.

Buzzell’s directorial method is the “suggestive” system. He never tries to act a scene, though an actor himself, lest the players try to imitate him and lose their own personalities, but usually suggests by an analogy of some sort.

Clowning Relieves Tension

Sometimes, he accomplishes his result by telling a funny story, usually based on some of his stage or vaudeville experiences. He is a meticulous dresser. He avoids useless conversation on the set, but, if players are nervous, clowns to relieve the tension.

While comedy is his forte he prefers to direct comedy and serious dramatic material alternately, maintaining that this keeps a mind clearer and quicker in perception. He often sits in with a writer on a script he is to direct, and always follows through with the film editor on the final assembling of one of his pictures.

Aside from his principal hobby, golf, he likes to experiment with a small camera, makes it a point to see every important picture and stage play, and attends the Philharmonic programs and principal musical events at the Hollywood Bowl.

Source: Who’s Who at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937