Richard Thorpe (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 07, 2022

Richard Thorpe has had practically every kind of a job in the picture business from extra player to studio manager. With the exception of the time he spent in France in the Headquarters Intelligence Detachment of the 88th Division during the war, he has always been connected with theatrical life.

Born in Hutchinson, Kansas, February 24, Thorpe was schooled in Wichita. He received his early training with stock companies, musical comedies and vaudeville. He began his picture career as an extra in the New York studios, and graduated to bits and parts.

With Johnny Hines

Then he worked into the writing department and became a scenarist and “gag” man. He was with Johnny Hines during the entire “Torchy” series, working variously as an actor, gag man, assistant director, cutter and studio manager. He remained with Hines in a number of feature-length pictures and then embarked on a career as a leading man.

After appearing in “Three O’clock in the Morning” and “Flames of Desire,” Thorpe became a director. In the ensuing years he made 75 feature Westerns for Pathe, several serials, and a number of features, including “College Days,” “Joselyn’s Wife” and “The First Night.”

Still to Make Best

Since the advent of sound he has directed many features, including “Probation,” “Midnight Lady,” “Beauty Parlor,” “King Murder,” “Strange People,” “Women Won’t Tell,” “Love Is Like That,” ‘Escapade,” “Forbidden Company,” “Thrill of Youth,” “Slightly Married,” “Secrets of Wu Sin,” “Forgotten,” “I Have Lived,” “Notorious But Nice,” “Murder on the Campus,” and “The Quitter.”

For Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer he has directed “The Last of the Pagans,” “The Voice of Bugle Ann,” “Tarzan Escapes,” “Dangerous Number,” Night Must Fall and “Double Wedding,” starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. His most recent is “The Four Marys.”

Thorpe enjoys golf and swimming, both of which he does well. He likes horses and dogs. He believes he has yet to make his best picture.

Thorpe is one of the quietest workers among directors. Calm and unruffled always, he never raises his voice, never becomes excited, and is always absolutely sure of what he plans to do. Each night he works out his scenes for the coming day, just as an officer works out an army problem, which eliminates all guesswork from his sets.

Never Loses His Head

The result is an unusual morale in his company. During the making of “Tarzan Escapes,” a herd of elephants stampeded. It could easily have caused a panic among the players, especially the colored men playing “natives” among the trees where the elephants milled.

Thorpe sauntered over, watched the elephants, and began laughing at them.

“Poor silly things, they’re afraid of a flapping piece of canvas,” he remarked. The company began laughing too, and possibility of a panic was averted. The elephant handlers corralled their charges, and work went on as though nothing had happened.

The director is one of the foremost candid camera experts in Hollywood. A series of studies he made in the South Seas has been exhibited all over the country, including the San Diego Exposition and Texas Centennial, and he has received several awards for their beauty.

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