William Thiele (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 07, 2022

Possessing an uncanny talent for discovering and developing actors and actresses, William Thiele is both writer and director.

Born in Vienna, May 10, he proved so adept at dramatics while attending the public schools that he won a scholarship to the Vienna Conservatory. There he studied both music and drama.

He went on the stage after leaving school and for three years played in “The Merchant of Venice,” “Othello” and “Faust.”

The next eleven years of his life were devoted to directing and producing stage plays and musical comedies.

He was introduced into motion pictures by Paul Davidson, founder of the UFA Film Company, and for two years was head of the scenario department.

Becomes Director

Drafted as a director, he made many notable silent pictures, among them “The Late Excellency,” “Orient Express,” and “The Model of Mont-Parnasse.” Stars of these productions were Lil Dagover, Lilian Harvey, Willy Fritsch and Heinrich George, all of whom he aided in developing.

Then came “The Love Waltz,” the first European picture in which music was used as a motivating factor in the plot. So tremendous was the success of this production that Thiele followed it with a light operetta, “Three Men of a Gas Station,” which won a gold medal as the “biggest box office hit of 1931” on the Continent.

Music In Pictures

During the following two years, he won wide attention in Europe for his development of music in pictures. He was the leader in that field on the Continent and was looked upon as a pioneer in light operetta for all European pictures.

Important pictures he directed after his medal-winning film include “The Private Secretary,” the only picture in history to be simultaneously made in four languages, by four different companies, and “Two Hearts in Waltz Time.” He also collaborated with Franz Lehar on “Grand Duches Alexandria,” starring Marie Jeritza.

Coming to the United States, Thiele directed “Annina” for J. J. Shubert in New York.

He came to Hollywood to direct “Lottery Lover” for Fox, and remained to collaborate on the screen play of “Don’t Get Personal” for Universal. Recently he directed Dorothy Lamour in “Jungle Princess.”

Following direction of “Jungle Princess,” Thiele directed a two-reel miniature musical for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, “Carnival In Paris.” Feeling that music was his particular forte, he wished to demonstrate his particular talent in that field. “Carnival In Paris” won him a long-term contract with the studio.

Among the stars whom Thiele has helped bring to prominence are Lilian Harvey, Danielle Darrieux and Dorothy Lamour.

Lilian Harvey scored a sensational success in England and was brought to the United States by Fox, appearing in four pictures for that company. She has returned to England where she is playing leads in both comedies and musicals.

His work with Dorothy Lamour made her one of the outstanding stars of the American screen.

His other discovery, Danielle Darrieux, has been signed by Universal and is being brought to Hollywood on a wave of publicity.

He is now under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where he directed “London by Night,” with George Murphy and Rita Johnson.

Thiele is studious by nature. He has a flair for comedy which he injects with finesse into his pictures.

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