Men Behind the Stars — Roy Del Ruth (1938) 🇺🇸

Roy Del Ruth |

January 16, 2022

Roy Del Ruth probably spends more studio gold in the course of a year than any other motion picture director, yet producers actually battle for the privilege of opening their check books to him.

In fact, it was less than a month ago that one of the industry’s super-colossal moguls timidly approached the ace megaphonist’s bosses with an offer of a bonus of $100,000 over and above Roy’s hefty salary for the loan of his services for a mere ten weeks.

The reason: Del Ruth productions always garner enormous profits at the box-offices throughout the world!

Director of “Rosalie”

Despite the fact that he is only 42 years old, Del Ruth has been identified with the picture business for more than two decades, having made his start as a scenarist for Mack Sennett in 1915, graduating to directorship three years later.

Born in Philadelphia, October 18th, 1895, Del Ruth was educated in the schools of that city, Williamsport, Pa., and Brooklyn. When he was fifteen he went to England, where he remained two years, returning to take a job as a sketch artist on the Saturday Evening Post at $8 a week. When the Philadelphia North American offered him $2 more as a combination cartoonist-reporter, he jumped at the chance.

It was when Del Ruth came to California on a vacation, and devoted it to penning a comedy, “She Loved a Sailor,” that Sennett grabbed him, and assigned him to script his own opus as a vehicle for Gloria Swanson, Wallace Beery, Juanita Hansen and Mary Thurman. Remember beauteous Mary?

In 1918, he deserted the home lot of the bathing beauties and the Keystone Kops for a writer-director berth with Fox Films, but later returned to Sennett in the same dual capacity, where he discovered and developed Harry Langdon into stardom.

In 1925, he joined Warner Brothers as a director of features, and remained with that organization until Darryl Zanuck resigned to organize 20th Century, now 20th Century-Fox, which is still his home base.

Roy Del Ruth directed Eleanor Powell and Robert Taylor in Broadway Melody of 1938 and is now directing Eleanor and Nelson Eddy in Rosalie.

During his pre-Warner days, Del Ruth directed more than 150 two-reelers. Since turning to the longer subjects, he has filmed more than 40 features, every one of them a profit-bagger. “Gold Diggers of Broadway,” Blessed Event, “Kid Millions,” “Thanks A Million,” “Born To Dance,” “On The Avenue,” Broadway Melody of 1936, and Broadway Melody of 1938 are only a few of his hit films of recent years. He is currently at M-G-M guiding a long list of stellar personalities, including Eleanor Powell and Nelson Eddy, through the elaborate production of Rosalie.

To his colleagues in the film colony, Del Ruth is an anomaly. He never takes a vacation, finding relaxation in his work. He is practically an unknown to headwaiters and patrons of the night spots, for when he finishes his day’s toil at the studio, which is far beyond the usual quitting hour, he drives himself home to mull over his script in preparation for the next morning’s scenes.

Since last January 1st, he has completed three lavish productions, each of them running beyond the million-dollar cost mark. On Rosalie, he will have charge of an expenditure approaching two million dollars. There is no waste in his budget, however, for always his outlays return huge dividends to his employers.

Del Ruth’s three hobbies are golf, art and music. Nowadays he finds little leisure for the former. The latter may offer a key to part of the secret of his success as a maker of tune-dance films.

Del Ruth has never developed what critics could call a “Del Ruth touch.” He is equally at ease with a giant musical or a sombre mystery drama. He has no quirks of finesse which identify his pictures. The only manner in which any of his productions are alike is that each can be found at the top of computations of the season’s biggest grossers.

Despite all this, Del Ruth seldom — if ever — talks for publication. He is one of the very few Hollywoodians not given to “tooting his own horn.” He will tell you: “It’s results, not words, that count!”

Source: Motion Picture, January 1938

CORRECTION. Motion Picture erred in the January issue in crediting Roy Del Ruth (who directed Broadway Melody of 1938) as the director of Rosalie. The director of Rosalie is W. S. Van Dyke, who had complete directorial charge of the picture from start to finish.

Source: Motion Picture, March 1938