Jack Conway (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 07, 2022

As an actor on the stage and screen, Jack Conway served a profitable apprenticeship to become one of Hollywood’s highly successful directors. Under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, he directed the first sound picture produced at that studio, and has since directed a number of the most important films of recent years.

As leading man for eight years in David Belasco productions, Conway acquired a broad knowledge of the theater.

He came to Los Angeles in 1911 on one theatrical engagement, and was drawn into the vortex of the motion picture business. He did extra work for Selig, Bosworth, Fine Arts, Griffith, Sennett and other producers, before being given, in 1915, the featured lead in Jack London’s “The Valley of the Moon.” This made him famous overnight, and there was much clamor that the tall, active young man become a star. Instead he chose to turn his back on acting and in 1918 he became a director.

Made First Talkie

His successes for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer include that company’s first talkie, “Alias Jimmy Valentine,” starring William HainesJoan Crawford in “Our Modern Maidens,” and “Untamed;” Lawrence Tibbett and Grace Moore in “New Moon,” William Haines in “Dancing Partners,” and Constance Bennett in “The Easiest Way.” Also “Just a Gigolo,” “Arsene Lupin,” starring John and Lionel Barrymore; Robert Montgomery in “But the Flesh is Weak,” Jean Harlow in “Red-Headed Woman,” Huston, Montgomery, Durante in “Hell Below,” Lee Tracy in “The Nuisance,” “Solitaire Man,” Viva Villa!, “One New York Night,” “The Girl from Missouri,” A Tale of Two CitiesLibeled Lady and Saratoga

Conway was born in Graceville, Minn., on July 17 and was educated at Durham Preparatory School, where he played in amateur theatricals. It was that experience which directed his efforts towards the theater and drew him to the attention of Belasco.

Has No Temperament

He is known in Hollywood as one of the most understanding directors in the profession, due to his knowledge of human nature in general and actors in particular. He works evenly, with a minimum of temperamental display.

He is married to Virginia Bushman, daughter of the screen star of silent pictures, Francis X. Bushman, now a Hollywood business man. Conway is a keen golf player, an excellent horseman and a good swimmer. He owns a thoroughbred Great Dane that is one of the canine wonders of the film colony.

Knew Ways of Losing

His assignment with Clark Gable and Jean Harlow in “Saratoga” was one that Conway directed with particular pleasure. The script required an analysis of the various methods by which a perfectly good horse might lose a race. Investigators unearthed some 200 possibilities. Conway heard them all and smiled pleasantly.

“They’re all good,” he conceded, “but you haven’t gone far enough. I’ve run into more than that myself, in personal experience.”

The incident was characteristic of his manner on the set. He laughs easily and gets results. The stars respect him and, at the same time play his game of give and take in repartee. It is peculiarly significant that Jack Conway is respected and equally well liked by the extras and the workmen on the lot. He’s that sort of a man.

His latest assignment took him to London where he directed Robert Taylor in “A Yank at Oxford.”

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