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Overview for Vincent Sherman
Vincent Sherman

Vincent Sherman


TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (2)

Also Known As: Abraham Orovitz Died: June 18, 2006
Born: July 16, 1906 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Vienna, Georgia Profession: Director ... director screenwriter actor


A working director in Hollywood for more than five decades, and an actor and screenwriter before that, Vincent Sherman has never been designated an "auteur" by cineastes, but he nevertheless directed such Hollywood classics as "Mr. Skeffington" (1945), as well as "The Hard Way" (1942), which won Ida Lupino the New York Film Critics Award, and films starring Paul Newman, Rita Hayworth, and Humphrey Bogart, to name a few. For much of his career, Sherman was typed as a "woman's director," but he not only fought that designation with work in such films as "All Through the Night" (1941), a taut spy drama starring Bogart and Peter Lorre. His tenacity also carried him into several decades of TV work while other directors from the heydays of the studio system could not adapt.

Born in Vienna, Georgia, as Abraham (some sources say Abram) Orovitz, Sherman grew up as one of a handful of Jews in a small Southern town. Perhaps this sense of the being the outsider helped spark an interest in the theater. Orovitz headed to New York after college where, renamed Vincent Sherman, he became a stage actor. He made his screen acting debut in William Wyler's "Counsellor-at-Law" (1933). Acting jobs were always character roles and feeling stifled, he turned to writing. By 1937, Sherman had migrated to Hollywood with a Warner Brothers contract as a screenwriter. He co-wrote "Crime Story" (1938), a follow-up in the "Dead End Kids" series. He got his break as a director in 1939 directing Bogie--still in his second lead villain stage--in "The Return of Dr. X." It was another Bogart vehicle, "All Through the Night," that firmly established the director. Sherman helmed "The Hard Way" with Ida Lupino playing an ambitious woman pushing her sister into a show business career as a ticket to the big city. Based on his work, he was chosen to direct "Mr. Skeffington," in which Bette Davis played a vain woman forced into a marriage of convenience with a wealthy Jewish man (Claude Rains). Errol Flynn was drunk during much of the production of "The New Adventures of Don Juan" (1948), but Sherman made the film work. Sherman directed Ronald Reagan as a Scottish soldier in "The Hasty Heart" (1949), and, according to Sherman's autobiography, the two clashed when Sherman tried to elicit a greater depth of performance from Reagan. Rita Hayworth starred in Sherman's "Affair in Trinidad" (1952), which featured the actress as a cafe singer and reunited her with her "Gilda" co-star Glenn Ford. Sherman directed Paul Newman in the Mainline Philadelphia Sturm und Drang, "The Young Philadelphians" (1959), but with the collapse of the studio system, film offers began to wane. His last film "Young Rebel/Cervantes" (1967) was misguided period drama.

But Sherman was not ready to retire, so he moved into TV. In the 60s, he directed episodes of "77 Sunset Strip" and TV pilots. He broke into TV movies in 1977 directing Carroll O'Connor in a remake of "The Last Hurrah" (NBC). Dyan Cannon starred as madam-turned-mayor Sally Stanford in "Lady of the House" (NBC, 1978). In 1980, Sherman directed the Operation Prime Time (syndicated) miniseries "The Dream Merchants," which dealt with Hollywood. Two other of his later TV longforms also dealt with his past: "Bogie" (CBS, 1980) looked at the life of the actor whom Sherman had directed several times at Warner Bros., while "Rita Hayworth: The Love Goddess" (CBS, 1983) profiled the actress with whom he had a brief affair. Sherman also reteamed with Glenn Ford on episodes of Ford's series "The Family Holvack" (NBC, 1975). Into the 80s, Sherman was still going strong directing episodes of "Simon & Simon" for CBS. In 1996, he published a memoir, "Studio Affairs: My Life as a Film Director."

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