Men Behind the Stars — W. S. Van Dyke (1936) 🇺🇸

January 14, 2022

W. S. Van Dyke has made a great name for himself as the creator of adventure romances. White Shadows in the South Seas and “The Pagan,” both filmed in the South Seas, and Trader Horn, made in Africa, were his first big pictures. And they were distinguished achievements.

by Gunnar Norberg

Director of “Rose Marie”

Recent smash hits of his are The Thin ManNaughty Marietta and “I Live My Life.” And now, he brings you Rose Marie, starring Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, a picture that is proving to be a sensation everywhere. Known as one of the most versatile directors in Hollywood, Van Dyke is also one of the most popular men in the film colony. His large house in Santa Monica is often the scene of festive gatherings. Van Dyke is a hospitable soul. Not only does he work hard, but he plays in the same way. An extremely energetic man, he averages only three hours of sleep per night. When he entertains, his democracy is apparent. “Prop” boys meet stars on an equal footing at his house. However, he insists that one rule be observed by all of his guests, whoever they may be. And that is: Profanity is forbidden in his house. But don’t get the wrong impression of Van Dyke. He’s a man’s man. He’s a captain in the Marine Corps. And he’s as hard-boiled, terse and direct in his commands as any typical officer in that sea soldier corps.

Van Dyke is not only a great director. He is, in the best sense of the term, a great man too. And so are his relatives. Henry Van Dyke, noted philosopher and writer, is a cousin of his; and John C. Van Dyke, famed art critic and professor of archaeology, is related to him. Born in San Diego, Calif., March 26, 1887, he was the son of Laura Winston, well-known actress of her day. His father was a superior court judge.

Surprising though it might seem that Van Dyke states that he would rather act than direct, it really isn’t surprising at all. He was an actor first. His initial stage appearance was made at the age of seven months in San Francisco. And in 1915, when D. W. Griffith chose him as his assistant director, he was acting on the stage. However, Van Dyke’s experience is not limited to the stage and screen. He has been a miner and a lumberman, too, as well as a newspaper reporter. The writing of plays and the creation of original stories for films are among his achievements. He’s really great, this man. Van Dyke. Have no doubt about that!

Who is Joan?

Director W. S. Van Dyke is so used to directing Joan Crawford that, starting work on the Rose Marie set, he slip-tongued and called Jeanette MacDonald, “Joan.” Jeanette replied: “Good morning, Mister Lubitsch —”

Collection: Motion Picture Magazine, April 1936