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George Sidney

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: October 4, 1916 Cause of Death: succumbing to complications of lymphoma
Birth Place: Long Island City, New York, USA Profession: director, producer, editor, 2nd unit director, sound technician, actor, assistant director, messenger boy

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The son of a producer and MGM executive, and a mother who was one of the Mooney Sisters in vaudeville, George Sidney worked his way up from messenger boy to director of numerous MGM musical hits--at one point 15 consecutive box office winners. Though his artistry is not as renowned as Vincente Minnelli, Stanley Donen and Busby Berkeley, Sidney can lay claim to having directed such classic musicals as "Anchors Aweigh" (1945) "The Harvey Girls" (1946), the 1951 remake of "Show Boat" and "Bye Bye Birdie" (1962).Sidney actually broke into show business as a five-year old, playing sidekick to Tom Mix in the silent film "The Littlest Cowboy" (1921). But he did not pursue acting as a child. Instead, at age 18, Sidney went to work at MGM, first as a messenger boy, then as a sound technician and film editor. Still a teenager, he graduated to directing "Our Gang" comedies, and, at the age of 20, was put in charge of directing all of MGM's screen tests. He was also directing short films, including "Third Dimensional Murder" (1937), which experimented with the 3-D technique (which would later be in vogue during the 1950s), as well as the back to back Oscar-winners "Quicker'n a Wink" (1940) and "Of Pups and...

The son of a producer and MGM executive, and a mother who was one of the Mooney Sisters in vaudeville, George Sidney worked his way up from messenger boy to director of numerous MGM musical hits--at one point 15 consecutive box office winners. Though his artistry is not as renowned as Vincente Minnelli, Stanley Donen and Busby Berkeley, Sidney can lay claim to having directed such classic musicals as "Anchors Aweigh" (1945) "The Harvey Girls" (1946), the 1951 remake of "Show Boat" and "Bye Bye Birdie" (1962).

Sidney actually broke into show business as a five-year old, playing sidekick to Tom Mix in the silent film "The Littlest Cowboy" (1921). But he did not pursue acting as a child. Instead, at age 18, Sidney went to work at MGM, first as a messenger boy, then as a sound technician and film editor. Still a teenager, he graduated to directing "Our Gang" comedies, and, at the age of 20, was put in charge of directing all of MGM's screen tests. He was also directing short films, including "Third Dimensional Murder" (1937), which experimented with the 3-D technique (which would later be in vogue during the 1950s), as well as the back to back Oscar-winners "Quicker'n a Wink" (1940) and "Of Pups and Puzzles" (1941).

In 1941, Sidney was handed his first feature film directing assignment, "Free and Easy", a lackluster Robert Cummings vehicle. He went on to direct Esther Williams in her first starring vehicle, "Bathing Beauties" (1944), and helped pioneer the combination of live action and animation in "Anchors Aweigh" (1945), notably in the now classic sequence in which Gene Kelly dances with a cartoon Jerry the Mouse. The animated character was created by the animation team of Joseph Barbera and William Hanna and the film marked the start of a long association between Sidney and the duo which would later include a five-year (1961-66) stint as president of the independent Hanna-Barbera Productions.

Sidney helped to consolidate the stardom of Judy Garland with "The Harvey Girls" (1946) and he had a success with an all-star version of "The Three Musketeers" (1948) Among his other notable features are "Annie Get Your Gun" (1950), with Betty Hutton in the title role, the 1951 color remake of "Show Boat" and "Kiss Me Kate" (1953) which teamed Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel and provided Ann Miller with one of her best screen roles. Late in the 50s, with MGM collapsing with the end of the studio system and lavish musicals a thing of the part, Sidney moved to Columbia as a producer as well as director. He served in both capacities on the middling biopic "Jeanne Eagels" (1957), with a miscast Kim Novak in the title role. He fared better with the screen version of the hit Broadway musical "Bye Bye Birdie" (1962), with Ann-Margret, Janet Leigh and Dick Van Dyke. Sidney's screen directing career ended with the unsuccessful musical "Half of Sixpence" (1968).

Sidney had occasionally worked on the small screen, including producing the 1964 Academy Awards telecast. He earned an Emmy nomination for directing and producing the United Nations-inspired film "Who Has Seen the Wind?" (ABC, 1965), in which the audience follows a refugee family as it seeks to reach America on a steamer. Still alive and nimble long after many of his contemporaries were not, Sidney participated in American Movie Classics' "Unscripted Hollywood" chat programs, sharing recollections with other stars, such as Betty Garrett and June Allyson. He and his second wife also hosted a local Los Angeles cable show devoted to films, "Reel to Reel".

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Half a Sixpence (1968) Director
2.
  The Swinger (1966) Director
3.
  Viva Las Vegas (1964) Director
4.
  Bye Bye Birdie (1963) Director
5.
  A Ticklish Affair (1963) Director
6.
  Pepe (1961) Director
7.
  Who Was That Lady? (1960) Director
8.
  Jeanne Eagels (1957) Director
9.
  Pal Joey (1957) Director
10.
  The Eddy Duchin Story (1956) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 50 Years of Action! (1986) Himself
2.
 Key to the City (1950) Taxi driver
3.
 The Good Old Soak (1937) Kennedy
4.
 Diamond Jim (1935) The pawnbroker
5.
 Diamond Jim (1935) Uncle Ike
6.
 Manhattan Melodrama (1934) Poppa Rosen
7.
 The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble (1933) Nathan Cohen
8.
 Rafter Romance (1933) Eckbaum
9.
 The Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood (1932) Mr. [Moe] Cohen
10.
 High Pressure (1932) Ginsberg
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1921:
As five year old, co-starred with Tom Mix in "The Littlest Cowboy", a silent feature
1933:
Joined MGM as messenger boy
1935:
Began directing "Our Gang" comedies
1936:
Became director of MGM screen tests
1937:
Directed experimental 3-D short, "Third Dimensional Murder"
1940:
Directed Oscar-winning short film "Quicker'n a Wink"
1941:
Helmed Oscar-winning short film "Of Pups and Puzzles"
1941:
Made feature film directorial debut with "Free and Easy"
1945:
Directed classic musical "Anchors Aweigh"
1951:
Directed remake of "Show Boat"
1953:
Directed third Oscar-winning short film, "The Merry Wives of Windsor Overture"
1957:
Began producing with "Jeanne Eagels"; also directed
1961:
Served as president of Hanna-Barbera Productions
1964:
Produced the 36th Annual Academy Awards telecast
1965:
Received Emmy nomination for "Who Has Seen the Wind?"
1968:
Produced and directed final film, "Half a Sixpence"
:
With wife Corinne, hosted local Los Angeles cable TV show, "Reel to Reel"
1995:
Interviewed about his MGM years on American Movie Classics' "Unscripted Hollywood"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

Not to be confused with the character actor of the same name.

Sidney was the 36th member of the Directors Guild of America and served as its president for 16 years (1950-1966).

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Jane Robinson. Married 1978 until her death; widow of actor Edward G Robinson.
wife:
Corinne Entratter. Entertainment writer.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Louis Sidney. Producer.
mother:
Hazael Mooney. Performer. Appeared as one of The Mooney Sisters, a vaudeville act.
step-son:
Ben Entratter.

Contributions

FAR ( 2010-05-07 )

Source: not available

George Sidney was married first to MGM drama coach, Lillian Burns, from 1942 to the mid-1970s.

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