Men Behind the Stars — King Vidor (1936) 🇺🇸

King Vidor |

January 14, 2022

A second-hand Ford — with expenses paid by making a travel film for the Ford Motor Company, enroute to California — landed King Vidor and his wife, Florence, in San Francisco with twenty cents in their pockets. They sold the Ford and with the profits took a boat to Los Angeles.

Director of “The Texas Rangers”

That trip was the beginning of a career that eventually won King Vidor many awards for his directorial achievements and such outstanding productions to his credit as The Big Parade — the famous silent picture which ran for two years in one theatre in New York — Street Scene, “Jack Knife Man,” “Peg O’ My Heart,” “The Crowd,” “Hallelujah,” “The Champ,” “Cynara,” “Wedding Night,” “So Red the Rose,” and now — his famous frontier spectacle, The Texas Rangers.

Among the other numerous honors, the title of Chief Thun Zi Ray, which makes him a very real chief of the San Ildefonso Indians of New Mexico, has been bestowed upon Vidor. He is the first white man on whom this tribe have conferred the distinction of membership. The ceremony took place when Vidor took his Paramount troupe to the Pueblo to make scenes for The Texas Rangers.

With vivid memories of the Galveston flood of 1900, in which 10,000 people lost their lives, Vidor entered creative work by writing stories for magazines and motion pictures. He doesn’t remember any acceptances. His next venture was in the production and direction of -films in Houston, Texas. This adventure resulted in three short films which he took to New York and sold. Then came his decision to make motion pictures his career, and with it the memorable motor trip to Hollywood.

Vidor had, some time before, met attractive Corinne Griffith in Texas and helped her get a job in pictures by writing rapturous letters about her to the Vitagraph Company. Corinne, who by now had worked her way up to a salary of $15 a week, helped Mrs. Vidor get a job at $10 a week. King sold some stories to Vitagraph, one of them bringing as much as $30. He also worked as an extra at various studios, the pay ranging from $1.50 to $5.00 a day. Universal later took him on as a script clerk at $12.50 a week and Mrs. Vidor obtained a contract with Universal which guaranteed her at least two days work a week at $10 a day.

An offer of $40 a week for King’s services as a scenario writer at Universal finally came along and was accepted. It was while at the studio in this capacity that he met Judge Willis Brown, writer of boys’ stories, who helped him secure a chance to direct. Vidor has been directing pictures ever since and has been acclaimed one of the greatest directors in filmdom.

Educated at high school in Galveston, Peacock Military School in San Antonio and Tome Institute at Port Deposit, Md., Vidor lived in Houston until 1915, the year he married Florence Arto. He has been married twice — his second wife was Eleanor Boardman — but is now a bachelor. He has three children — one by his first wife and two by his second.

Brunette and pale, Vidor smiles easily, without a trace of affectation or self-consciousness, and always gives the impression of being mentally relaxed and alert. He has a keen sense of humor, is perfectly democratic — no class distinctions of any kind exist for him — and makes no effort to attract the spotlight in any gathering, but often does so.

A hard worker, he is interested in modern art, of which he has a small collection, and in modern music. He is a good singer and plays the guitar. A great sports enthusiast, Vidor plays tennis regularly with his friend, Charles Chaplin; likes to sail his starboat and takes to the Pacific in his fifty-two foot power cruiser. He is a member of the Yacht Club, Hollywood Athletic Club and Beverly Hills Tennis Club.

Like most of today’s outstanding motion picture directors, with few exceptions, Vidor, president of the Directors’ Guild, antedates the introduction of sound films, and will always be identified with some of the great silent pictures of his early career.

His “Big Parade” will never be forgotten!

King Vidor, giving Jean Parker and Fred MacMurray final instructions for their next scene in The Texas Rangers.

Source: Motion Picture, November 1936