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Michael Curtiz

Biography

Won an Academy Award in 1943 for directing the basic film Casablanca. He competed in the 1912 Olympics as an associate from the Hungarian fencing group. He aimed The Journeys of Robin Hood. He wedded his third wife Bess Meredyth in 1929. He aimed Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca.

Quick Facts


Date Of Birth December 24, 1886
Place Of Birth Hungary
Profession Director
Nationality American, Hungarian
Spouse Bess Meredyth, Lili Damita, Lucy Doraine
Children John Meredyth Lucas, Kitty Curtiz-Eberson
Parents Ignác Kaminer, Aranka Nathan
Siblings David Curtiz
Awards Academy Award for Best Director
Nominations Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Feature Film
Movies Casablanca, Mildred Pierce, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Angels with Dirty Faces, White Christmas, The Sea Hawk, The Comancheros, King Creole, Life with Father, Dodge City, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, The Sea Wolf, Santa Fe Trail, Four Daughters, We're No Angels, Passage to Marseille, Young Man with a Horn, Mystery of the Wax Museum, Flamingo Road, The Unsuspected, The Breaking Point, Kid Galahad, Doctor X, Romance on the High Seas, The Egyptian, The Kennel Murder Case, Virginia City, 20,000 Years in Sing Sing, Night and Day, The Proud Rebel, The Walking Dead, I'll See You in My Dreams, Noah's Ark, Mission to Moscow, Trouble Along the Way, Black Fury, The Cabin in the Cotton, Dive Bomber, This Is the Army, Jim Thorpe – All-American, The Man in the Net, The Mad Genius, Jimmy the Gent, My Dream Is Yours, Four's a Crowd, Front Page Woman, Captains of the Clouds, Little Big Shot
Star Sign Capricorn

  • Facts
  • Filmography
  • Awards
  • Salaries
  • Quotes
  • Trademarks
  • Pictures

#Fact
1 His father and brother and sisters died in Auschwitz. Only his mother came to the USA, thanks to Jack Warner who helped him.
2 Despite his great wealth, Michael Curtiz did not live in luxury. By the end of his death, he lived in a small apartment in Sherman Oaks, California.
3 When he worked on the set, he never had lunch explaining that disturbed the pace of work.
4 In 1946 Curtiz was invited by Frank Capra, George Stevens and William Wyler to join them in Liberty Pictures, which would have given him autonomy. Jack L. Warner granted him semi-independence with his own unit within Warners. After making lukewarm features--Flamingo Road (1949), two mediocre Doris Day musicals and The Unsuspected (1947)--he gave it up and rejoined Warners full time.
5 At one point he was attached to direct Serenade (1956), which wound up being directed by Anthony Mann.
6 Credited with "discovering" Doris Day, whom he heard sing at a Hollywood party. At the time he was about to direct Romance on the High Seas (1948) and was seeking a singer/actress to replace Betty Hutton, who had become pregnant and had to back out of the film.
7 After Nunnally Johnson bowed out, 20th Century-Fox started negotiations with Curtiz to direct the Elvis Presley film Flaming Star (1960), but the job was later given to Don Siegel. Curtiz had previously directed Presley in King Creole (1958) and was originally set to direct him again in G.I. Blues (1960).
8 After directing Elvis Presley in King Creole (1958) Curtiz was set to direct Presley's first post-Army film, G.I. Blues (1960) but for unknown reasons the film was eventually directed by Norman Taurog. Hal B. Wallis produced both.
9 Was assigned to direct Adventures of Don Juan (1948) in 1947, but he and star Errol Flynn had a falling-out and Vincent Sherman wound up directing the picture.
10 His two most fruitful collaborations with stars were with Errol Flynn (they did 12 films together) and Humphrey Bogart (they did eight films together).
11 He had one son, John Meredyth Lucas, whom he adopted in 1929 when the boy was ten years old.
12 Fought in the Hungarian army during World War I.
13 Jodie Foster used to own a home that Curtiz built in 1934. The house was originally a guest house on the large estate that he owned. It is copied from small quaint Cotswold cottages found in the midlands in England. In 1995 she put the home up for sale for $1.1 million.
14 Directed ten different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Paul Muni, John Garfield, James Cagney, Walter Huston, Humphrey Bogart, Claude Rains, Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth, Eve Arden and William Powell. Cagney and Crawford won Oscars for their performances in one of Curtiz' movies.
15 His adopted son, John Meredyth Lucas, said he spoke five languages, all of them badly. His thick Hungarian accent often made it difficult for cast and crew to understand him when he spoke English. During the filming of Casablanca (1942), for instance, he asked a set dresser for a "poodle", and when the dresser brought him a small poodle dog, Curtiz exploded at the man--he had meant that he wanted a "poodle" of water. On the set of The Cabin in the Cotton (1932), Curtiz made a speech to the actors on how he wanted them to act like "woodpeckers" when the script described them as "peckerwoods". NOTE: A number of Curtiz' other misstatements were mistakenly attributed to producer Samuel Goldwyn, who was also famous for verbal slips.
16 Could be intensely absorbed, to the point of distraction. Once was hurt falling out of a moving car because he wanted to write down an idea. He was driving at the time.
17 Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945". Pages 172-181. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
18 Older brother of assistant director David Curtiz.
19 Interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, CA., in the Whispering Pines section.


Director

Director

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Off to See the Wizard 1967 TV Series 1 episode
The Comancheros 1961
Francis of Assisi 1961
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 1960
A Breath of Scandal 1960
The Man in the Net 1959
The Hangman 1959
King Creole 1958
The Proud Rebel 1958
The Helen Morgan Story 1957
The Best Things in Life Are Free 1956
The Vagabond King 1956
The Scarlet Hour 1956
We're No Angels 1955
White Christmas 1954
The Egyptian 1954
The Boy from Oklahoma 1954
Trouble Along the Way 1953
The Jazz Singer 1952
The Story of Will Rogers 1952
I'll See You in My Dreams 1951
Jim Thorpe -- All-American 1951
Force of Arms 1951
The Breaking Point 1950
Bright Leaf 1950
Young Man with a Horn 1950
The Lady Takes a Sailor 1949
Flamingo Road 1949
My Dream Is Yours 1949
Romance on the High Seas 1948
The Unsuspected 1947
Life with Father 1947
Night and Day 1946
Mildred Pierce 1945
Roughly Speaking 1945
Janie 1944
Passage to Marseille 1944
This Is the Army 1943
Mission to Moscow 1943
Casablanca 1942
Yankee Doodle Dandy 1942
Captains of the Clouds 1942
Dive Bomber 1941
The Sea Wolf 1941
Santa Fe Trail 1940
The Sea Hawk 1940
Virginia City 1940
Four Wives 1939
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex 1939
Daughters Courageous 1939
Sons of Liberty 1939 Short
Dodge City 1939
Blackwell's Island 1939 uncredited
Angels with Dirty Faces 1938
Four Daughters 1938
Four's a Crowd 1938
The Adventures of Robin Hood 1938
Gold Is Where You Find It 1938
The Perfect Specimen 1937
Kid Galahad 1937
Mountain Justice 1937
Marked Woman 1937 uncredited
Stolen Holiday 1937
Black Legion 1937 uncredited
The Charge of the Light Brigade 1936
Anthony Adverse 1936 uncredited
The Walking Dead 1936
Captain Blood 1935
Little Big Shot 1935
Front Page Woman 1935
Go Into Your Dance 1935 uncredited
The Case of the Curious Bride 1935
Black Fury 1935
British Agent 1934
The Key 1934
Jimmy the Gent 1934
Mandalay 1934
Female 1933
The Kennel Murder Case 1933
Goodbye Again 1933
The Mayor of Hell 1933 uncredited
Private Detective 62 1933
The Keyhole 1933
Mystery of the Wax Museum 1933
20,000 Years in Sing Sing 1932
The Cabin in the Cotton 1932
Doctor X 1932
The Strange Love of Molly Louvain 1932
Alias the Doctor 1932
The Woman from Monte Carlo 1932
The Mad Genius 1931
God's Gift to Women 1931
Dämon des Meeres 1931
A Soldier's Plaything 1930
River's End 1930
Bright Lights 1930
The Office Wife 1930 uncredited
The Matrimonial Bed 1930
Under a Texas Moon 1930
Mammy 1930
Hearts in Exile 1929
The Gamblers 1929
Madonna of Avenue A 1929
Glad Rag Doll 1929
Noah's Ark 1928
Tenderloin 1928
Good Time Charley 1927
The Desired Woman 1927
A Million Bid 1927
The Third Degree 1926
The Golden Butterfly 1926 as Michael Kertesz
Fiaker Nr. 13 1926 as Michael Kertész
Das Spielzeug von Paris 1925 as Michael Kertesz
Ein Spiel ums Leben 1924
General Babka 1924
The Moon of Israel 1924 as Michael Courtice
Harun al Raschid 1924 as Michael Kertész
Nameless 1923 as Michael Kertész
Die Lawine 1923 as Michael Kertesz
Der junge Medardus 1923 as Michael Kertész
Sodom und Gomorrha 1922 as Mihály Kertész
Labyrinth des Grauens 1921 as Mihaly Kertesz
Mrs. Dane's Confession 1921 as Michael Kertesz
Good and Evil 1921 as Michael Kertesz
Mrs. Tutti Frutti 1921 as Michael Kertész
Die Gottesgeisel 1920 as Michael Kertesz
Der Stern von Damaskus 1920 as Michael Kertesz
Boccaccio 1920 as Michael Kertesz
Liliom 1919 as Kertész Mihály
Die Dame mit dem schwarzen Handschuh 1919 as Michael Kertesz
Jön az öcsém 1919 Short as Kertész Mihály
Alraune 1919 as Mihály Kertész
A csúnya fiú 1918 as Kertész Mihály
Júdás 1918 as Mihály Kertész
Lu, a kokott 1918 as Mihály Kertész
Lulu 1918
A napraforgós hölgy 1918 as Mihály Kertész
Varázskeringö 1918 as Kertész Mihály
A skorpió I. 1918 as Kertész Mihály
Az ördög 1918 as Kertész Mihály
99 1918 as Mihály Kertész
A víg özvegy 1918 as Kertész Mihály
A béke útja 1917 as Mihály Kertész
A föld embere 1917 as Kertész Mihály
Árendás zsidó 1917 as Kertész Mihály
A senki fia 1917 as Kertész Mihály
A szentjóbi erdö titka 1917 as Mihály Kertész
Az ezredes 1917 as Mihály Kertész
Az utolsó hajnal 1917 as Mihály Kertész
Egy krajcár története 1917 as Kertész Mihály
Halálcsengö 1917 as Mihály Kertész
Tavasz a télben 1917 as Mihály Kertész
Zoárd mester 1917 as Mihály Kertész
A vörös Sámson 1917 as Kertész Mihály
Tatárjárás 1917 Short as Kertész Mihály
A kuruzsló 1917 as Kertész Mihály
A fekete szivárvány 1917 as Kertész Mihály
Farkas 1917 as Kertész Mihály
A karthausi 1916
A magyar föld ereje 1916 as Kertész Mihály
Doktor úr 1916 as Kertész Mihály
Makkhetes 1916 as Mihály Kertész
Az ezüst kecske 1916 as Kertész Mihály
Akit ketten szeretnek 1915 as Mihály Kertész
Bánk bán 1915 as Kertész Mihály
A kölcsönkért csecsemök 1915 as Kertész Mihály
The Undesirable 1915 as Kertész Mihály
Az éjszaka rabja 1914 as Kertész Mihály
A hercegnö pongyolája 1914 as Kertész Mihály
Az aranyásó 1914 as Mihály Kertész
Rablélek 1914 as Kertész Mihály
Házasodik az uram 1913 as Kertész Mihály
Az utolsó bohém 1913 as Kertész Mihály
Ma és holnap 1912 as Kertész Mihály
Az ezüst kecske 1912 Short as Kertész Mihály

Actor

Actor

TitleYearStatusCharacter
It's a Great Feeling 1949 Michael Curtiz (uncredited)
Az ezüst kecske 1916 as Mihály Kertész
Akit ketten szeretnek 1915
Az éjszaka rabja 1914 as Kertész Mihály
Atlantis 1913 Hans Fuellenberg - Friedrich's college pal (as Mihály Kertész)
Ma és holnap 1912 Arisztid (as Kertész Mihály)

Producer

Producer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Scarlet Hour 1956 producer
Flamingo Road 1949 executive producer
My Dream Is Yours 1949 executive producer
The Unsuspected 1947 producer
Bright Lights 1935 producer - uncredited

Writer

Writer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Sodom und Gomorrha 1922
Dracula's Death 1921 as Kertész Mihály

Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous

TitleYearStatusCharacter
She's Working Her Way Through College 1952 fill-in director - uncredited
Roaring Guns 1944 Short director: archive footage - uncredited

Assistant Director

Assistant Director

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Atlantis 1913 assistant director

Costume Designer

Costume Designer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Samson und Delila 1922

Thanks

Thanks

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Evocator 2009 Short grateful acknowledgment

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Ed Sullivan Show 1954 TV Series Himself
This Is Your Life 1954 TV Series Himself
The Screen Director 1951 Short Himself (staged 'archive' footage) (uncredited)
Show-Business at War 1943 Documentary short Himself (uncredited)

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Charmed Lives: A Family Romance Documentary pre-production Himself
Crawford at Warners 2008 Video documentary short Himself
The Adventures of Errol Flynn 2005 TV Movie documentary Himself
John Ford Goes to War 2002 Documentary Himself
The Definitive Elvis: The Hollywood Years - Part I: 1956-1961 2002 Video documentary Himself
Warner Bros. 75th Anniversary: No Guts, No Glory 1998 TV Movie documentary Himself (uncredited)
Secret Lives 1996 TV Series documentary Himself - Funeral Guest
The First 100 Years: A Celebration of American Movies 1995 TV Movie documentary Himself

Won awards

Won awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
2012 OFTA Film Hall of Fame Online Film & Television Association Creative
1962 Bronze Wrangler Western Heritage Awards Theatrical Motion Picture The Comancheros (1961) · George Sherman (producer)
· Clair Huffaker (writer)
· James Edward Grant (writer)
· Stuart Whitman (actor)
· Ina Balin (actor)
· John Wayne (actor)
1960 Star on the Walk of Fame Walk of Fame Motion Picture On 8 February 1960. At 6640 Hollywood Blvd.
1944 Oscar Academy Awards, USA Best Director Casablanca (1942)

Nominated awards

Nominated awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1961 Golden Laurel Laurel Awards Top Director 4th place.
1960 Golden Laurel Laurel Awards Top Director 10th place.
1959 Golden Laurel Laurel Awards Top Director 7th place.
1958 Golden Laurel Laurel Awards Top Director 4th place.
1953 DGA Award Directors Guild of America, USA Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures I'll See You in My Dreams (1951)
1943 Oscar Academy Awards, USA Best Director Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
1939 Oscar Academy Awards, USA Best Director Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
1939 Oscar Academy Awards, USA Best Director Four Daughters (1938)
1937 Mussolini Cup Venice Film Festival Best Foreign Film Kid Galahad (1937)
1936 Oscar Academy Awards, USA Best Director Captain Blood (1935)
1935 Mussolini Cup Venice Film Festival Best Foreign Film Black Fury (1935)

2nd place awards

2nd place awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1939 NYFCC Award New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Director Four Daughters (1938)

3rd place awards

3rd place awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1942 NYFCC Award New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Director Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)


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#Quote
1 [on Cary Grant] Some actors squeeze a line to death. Cary tickles it into life.
2 [on learning that Joan Crawford had been offered the title role in Mildred Pierce (1945)] She comes over here with her high-hat airs and her goddamn shoulder pads. Why should I waste time directing a has-been?
3 [on Randolph Scott] Randy Scott is a complete anachronism. He's a gentleman. And so far he's the only one I've met in this business full of self-promoting sons-of-bitches.
4 [berating David Niven during an on-set argument] You think you know fuck everything and I know fuck nothing. Well, let me tell you, I know fuck all!!
5 [chewing out an assistant for not doing an assigned task] The next time I want an idiot to do this, I'll do it myself! NOTE: This is often wrongly attributed to Samuel Goldwyn).
6 [on the set of The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), attempting to explain that he wanted a lot of riderless horses in the background of the climactic charge] Bring on the empty horses. NOTE: David Niven, who was in the cast of the film and heard about the remark, later used it as the title for his autobiography.


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