W. S. Van Dyke (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 07, 2022

Although he has been a miner, lumberman and newspaper reporter, W. S. Van Dyke has been connected with the stage and screen almost since his birth. His first stage appearance was at the age of seven months under Fred Butler and Charles Nichols of San Francisco.

He was born at San Diego, California, March 26. His father was a Superior Court judge, his mother a well-known actress, Laura Winston. He is a cousin of Henry Van Dyke, famous philosopher, writer and former U. S. Ambassador to the Hague. He is related to John C. Van Dyke, art critic, who wrote “Art for Art’s Sake.”

Assistant to Griffith

He was playing on the stage when he became D. W. Griffith’s assistant director in 1915. The picture was “Intolerance,” in which he also acted. He became a director for Essanay and made such pictures as “Men of the Desert,” “Barriers Burned Away,” “Secret Service” and “Raw Country.” He also wrote such original film plays as “Sins of the Parent” and “Madonna of the North.”

His first M-G-M picture was “War Paint,” starring Tim McCoy. He directed the same star in “Winners of the Wilderness.” His great fame came with “White Shadows of the South Seas” and “The Pagan.” Trader Horn established him as the world’s greatest maker of adventure romances in authentic settings.

Prefers to Act

Others of his pictures are “Never the Twain Shall Meet,” Tarzan the Ape Man “Eskimo,” “Penthouse,” “Prizefighter and the Lady,” “Laughing Boy,” “Manhattan Melodrama,” “The Thin Man,” “Hide-Out,” “Forsaking All Others,” Naughty Marietta, “I Live My Life,” Rose Marie, San Francisco“His Brother’s Wife,” “The Devil Is a Sissy,” “Love On the Run,” “After the Thin Man,” Personal Property and “They Gave Him a Gun.” His most recent was Rosalie.

He is six feet tall, weighs 160 pounds, has dark hair and blue eyes. He would rather act than direct if he had his choice. His home is a veritable museum of authentic curiosities from his travels. Golf is his favorite sport. He has been elected to the International Adventurers’ Club and to the Explorers’ Club of New York. He also was made an honorary colonel by the Governor of Kentucky.

Faith in Co-Workers

Van Dyke’s success in motion picture direction and in winning the complete cooperation of those associated with him in his work is largely due to the utmost faith he has in the ability of those of his company.

He never looks at a set until he steps upon it, all ready to shoot a scene. He knows the construction of the set will meet with his approval and that it is not necessary for him to visit it during the time it is being built.

Unlike most directors, Van Dyke has a perfect mental picture of the scenes in his picture before they are photographed. Therefore, he obtains a perfect result far more quickly than the average director. Also, he is noted for bringing most of his pictures to completion under the scheduled time.

Van Dyke traces his ancestry back several hundred years. He is descended from Jan Utrecht, Long Island, in 1652, and Jan Janes Tomasse Van Dyke, one of the founders of Van Dyke, a magistrate of New Utrecht and a captain in the Colonial army.

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