Men Behind the Stars — Mervyn LeRoy (1936) 🇺🇸

Mervyn LeRoy |

January 14, 2022

Mervyn LeRoy, director of Warners’ coming big film, “Anthony Adverse,” started his motion picture career as an assistant cameraman at the FBO studios, which have since been absorbed by RKO.

by Gunnar Norberg

Director of “Anthony Adverse”

Although LeRoy was born with what might — in Hollywood — have been considered the proverbial silver spoon, he did not use it. Nephew of Jesse L. Lasky though he was, he entered films strictly on his own.

Born in San Francisco, Oct. 15, 1900, LeRoy was just eighteen when he began to turn the crank on a movie camera. However, this was not his first experience with the entertainment world. He had already had vaudeville and legitimate stage performances to his credit before this time.

Not only was LeRoy a cameraman before becoming a director, but he was also an actor. Pictures in which he played were “Little Johnnie Jones,” “Prodigal Daughters” and “Broadway After Dark.”

There was something else that Hollywood found out about LeRoy very quickly: He had an excellent sense of humor. Employed for a short time as a “gag-man,” he created the highly amusing comedy sequences that were used in “Potash and Perlmutter in Hollywood,” Sally, “The Desert Flower” and “Irene.”

After two years as a writer of comedy scripts, LeRoy achieved his heart’s desire: He became a director for First National. His first assignment was “No Place to Go.” Recent hit films which he directed are Five Star FinalI Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang and Oil for the Lamps of China.

Known as an ace director in the film colony, LeRoy has earned the title by hard work and constant alertness. Even when he was on vacation, soon after marrying Doris Warner, (daughter of Harry Warner, Warner Bros. president) he spent months in the Orient, in order to be better able to direct his then coming picture, Oil for the Lamps of China. This film was a directorial triumph for LeRoy. Having studied Chinese customs and traditions with the enthusiasm and concentration for which he is noted, he was able to give this picture an authenticity which it might otherwise have lacked.

To be named to direct Anthony Adverse was an honor which many a Hollywood director coveted. And LeRoy was chosen.

Source: Motion Picture, May 1936