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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
1His father and brother and sisters died in Auschwitz. Only his mother came to the USA, thanks to Jack Warner who helped him.
2Despite 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.
3When he worked on the set, he never had lunch explaining that disturbed the pace of work.
4In 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.
5At one point he was attached to direct Serenade (1956), which wound up being directed by Anthony Mann.
6Credited 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.
7After 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).
8After 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.
9Was 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.
10His two most fruitful collaborations with stars were with Errol Flynn (they did 12 films together) and Humphrey Bogart (they did eight films together).
11He had one son, John Meredyth Lucas, whom he adopted in 1929 when the boy was ten years old.
12Fought in the Hungarian army during World War I.
13Jodie 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.
14Directed 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.
15His 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.
16Could 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.
17Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945". Pages 172-181. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
18Older brother of assistant director David Curtiz.
19Interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, CA., in the Whispering Pines section.


Director

Director

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Off to See the Wizard1967TV Series 1 episode
The Comancheros1961
Francis of Assisi1961
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn1960
A Breath of Scandal1960
The Man in the Net1959
The Hangman1959
King Creole1958
The Proud Rebel1958
The Helen Morgan Story1957
The Best Things in Life Are Free1956
The Vagabond King1956
The Scarlet Hour1956
We're No Angels1955
White Christmas1954
The Egyptian1954
The Boy from Oklahoma1954
Trouble Along the Way1953
The Jazz Singer1952
The Story of Will Rogers1952
I'll See You in My Dreams1951
Jim Thorpe -- All-American1951
Force of Arms1951
The Breaking Point1950
Bright Leaf1950
Young Man with a Horn1950
The Lady Takes a Sailor1949
Flamingo Road1949
My Dream Is Yours1949
Romance on the High Seas1948
The Unsuspected1947
Life with Father1947
Night and Day1946
Mildred Pierce1945
Roughly Speaking1945
Janie1944
Passage to Marseille1944
This Is the Army1943
Mission to Moscow1943
Casablanca1942
Yankee Doodle Dandy1942
Captains of the Clouds1942
Dive Bomber1941
The Sea Wolf1941
Santa Fe Trail1940
The Sea Hawk1940
Virginia City1940
Four Wives1939
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex1939
Daughters Courageous1939
Sons of Liberty1939Short
Dodge City1939
Blackwell's Island1939uncredited
Angels with Dirty Faces1938
Four Daughters1938
Four's a Crowd1938
The Adventures of Robin Hood1938
Gold Is Where You Find It1938
The Perfect Specimen1937
Kid Galahad1937
Mountain Justice1937
Marked Woman1937uncredited
Stolen Holiday1937
Black Legion1937uncredited
The Charge of the Light Brigade1936
Anthony Adverse1936uncredited
The Walking Dead1936
Captain Blood1935
Little Big Shot1935
Front Page Woman1935
Go Into Your Dance1935uncredited
The Case of the Curious Bride1935
Black Fury1935
British Agent1934
The Key1934
Jimmy the Gent1934
Mandalay1934
Female1933
The Kennel Murder Case1933
Goodbye Again1933
The Mayor of Hell1933uncredited
Private Detective 621933
The Keyhole1933
Mystery of the Wax Museum1933
20,000 Years in Sing Sing1932
The Cabin in the Cotton1932
Doctor X1932
The Strange Love of Molly Louvain1932
Alias the Doctor1932
The Woman from Monte Carlo1932
The Mad Genius1931
God's Gift to Women1931
Dämon des Meeres1931
A Soldier's Plaything1930
River's End1930
Bright Lights1930
The Office Wife1930uncredited
The Matrimonial Bed1930
Under a Texas Moon1930
Mammy1930
Hearts in Exile1929
The Gamblers1929
Madonna of Avenue A1929
Glad Rag Doll1929
Noah's Ark1928
Tenderloin1928
Good Time Charley1927
The Desired Woman1927
A Million Bid1927
The Third Degree1926
The Golden Butterfly1926as Michael Kertesz
Fiaker Nr. 131926as Michael Kertész
Das Spielzeug von Paris1925as Michael Kertesz
Ein Spiel ums Leben1924
General Babka1924
The Moon of Israel1924as Michael Courtice
Harun al Raschid1924as Michael Kertész
Nameless1923as Michael Kertész
Die Lawine1923as Michael Kertesz
Der junge Medardus1923as Michael Kertész
Sodom und Gomorrha1922as Mihály Kertész
Labyrinth des Grauens1921as Mihaly Kertesz
Mrs. Dane's Confession1921as Michael Kertesz
Good and Evil1921as Michael Kertesz
Mrs. Tutti Frutti1921as Michael Kertész
Die Gottesgeisel1920as Michael Kertesz
Der Stern von Damaskus1920as Michael Kertesz
Boccaccio1920as Michael Kertesz
Liliom1919as Kertész Mihály
Die Dame mit dem schwarzen Handschuh1919as Michael Kertesz
Jön az öcsém1919Short as Kertész Mihály
Alraune1919as Mihály Kertész
A csúnya fiú1918as Kertész Mihály
Júdás1918as Mihály Kertész
Lu, a kokott1918as Mihály Kertész
Lulu1918
A napraforgós hölgy1918as Mihály Kertész
Varázskeringö1918as Kertész Mihály
A skorpió I.1918as Kertész Mihály
Az ördög1918as Kertész Mihály
991918as Mihály Kertész
A víg özvegy1918as Kertész Mihály
A béke útja1917as Mihály Kertész
A föld embere1917as Kertész Mihály
Árendás zsidó1917as Kertész Mihály
A senki fia1917as Kertész Mihály
A szentjóbi erdö titka1917as Mihály Kertész
Az ezredes1917as Mihály Kertész
Az utolsó hajnal1917as Mihály Kertész
Egy krajcár története1917as Kertész Mihály
Halálcsengö1917as Mihály Kertész
Tavasz a télben1917as Mihály Kertész
Zoárd mester1917as Mihály Kertész
A vörös Sámson1917as Kertész Mihály
Tatárjárás1917Short as Kertész Mihály
A kuruzsló1917as Kertész Mihály
A fekete szivárvány1917as Kertész Mihály
Farkas1917as Kertész Mihály
A karthausi1916
A magyar föld ereje1916as Kertész Mihály
Doktor úr1916as Kertész Mihály
Makkhetes1916as Mihály Kertész
Az ezüst kecske1916as Kertész Mihály
Akit ketten szeretnek1915as Mihály Kertész
Bánk bán1915as Kertész Mihály
A kölcsönkért csecsemök1915as Kertész Mihály
The Undesirable1915as Kertész Mihály
Az éjszaka rabja1914as Kertész Mihály
A hercegnö pongyolája1914as Kertész Mihály
Az aranyásó1914as Mihály Kertész
Rablélek1914as Kertész Mihály
Házasodik az uram1913as Kertész Mihály
Az utolsó bohém1913as Kertész Mihály
Ma és holnap1912as Kertész Mihály
Az ezüst kecske1912Short as Kertész Mihály

Actor

Actor

TitleYearStatusCharacter
It's a Great Feeling1949Michael Curtiz (uncredited)
Az ezüst kecske1916as Mihály Kertész
Akit ketten szeretnek1915
Az éjszaka rabja1914as Kertész Mihály
Atlantis1913Hans Fuellenberg - Friedrich's college pal (as Mihály Kertész)
Ma és holnap1912Arisztid (as Kertész Mihály)

Producer

Producer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Scarlet Hour1956producer
Flamingo Road1949executive producer
My Dream Is Yours1949executive producer
The Unsuspected1947producer
Bright Lights1935producer - uncredited

Writer

Writer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Sodom und Gomorrha1922
Dracula's Death1921as Kertész Mihály

Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous

TitleYearStatusCharacter
She's Working Her Way Through College1952fill-in director - uncredited
Roaring Guns1944Short director: archive footage - uncredited

Assistant Director

Assistant Director

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Atlantis1913assistant director

Costume Designer

Costume Designer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Samson und Delila1922

Thanks

Thanks

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Evocator2009Short grateful acknowledgment

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Ed Sullivan Show1954TV SeriesHimself
This Is Your Life1954TV SeriesHimself
The Screen Director1951ShortHimself (staged 'archive' footage) (uncredited)
Show-Business at War1943Documentary shortHimself (uncredited)

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Charmed Lives: A Family RomanceDocumentary pre-productionHimself
Crawford at Warners2008Video documentary shortHimself
The Adventures of Errol Flynn2005TV Movie documentaryHimself
John Ford Goes to War2002DocumentaryHimself
The Definitive Elvis: The Hollywood Years - Part I: 1956-19612002Video documentaryHimself
Warner Bros. 75th Anniversary: No Guts, No Glory1998TV Movie documentaryHimself (uncredited)
Secret Lives1996TV Series documentaryHimself - Funeral Guest
The First 100 Years: A Celebration of American Movies1995TV Movie documentaryHimself

Won awards

Won awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
2012OFTA Film Hall of FameOnline Film & Television AssociationCreative
1962Bronze WranglerWestern Heritage AwardsTheatrical Motion PictureThe Comancheros (1961)· George Sherman (producer)
· Clair Huffaker (writer)
· James Edward Grant (writer)
· Stuart Whitman (actor)
· Ina Balin (actor)
· John Wayne (actor)
1960Star on the Walk of FameWalk of FameMotion PictureOn 8 February 1960. At 6640 Hollywood Blvd.
1944OscarAcademy Awards, USABest DirectorCasablanca (1942)

Nominated awards

Nominated awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1961Golden LaurelLaurel AwardsTop Director4th place.
1960Golden LaurelLaurel AwardsTop Director10th place.
1959Golden LaurelLaurel AwardsTop Director7th place.
1958Golden LaurelLaurel AwardsTop Director4th place.
1953DGA AwardDirectors Guild of America, USAOutstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion PicturesI'll See You in My Dreams (1951)
1943OscarAcademy Awards, USABest DirectorYankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
1939OscarAcademy Awards, USABest DirectorAngels with Dirty Faces (1938)
1939OscarAcademy Awards, USABest DirectorFour Daughters (1938)
1937Mussolini CupVenice Film FestivalBest Foreign FilmKid Galahad (1937)
1936OscarAcademy Awards, USABest DirectorCaptain Blood (1935)
1935Mussolini CupVenice Film FestivalBest Foreign FilmBlack Fury (1935)

2nd place awards

2nd place awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1939NYFCC AwardNew York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest DirectorFour Daughters (1938)

3rd place awards

3rd place awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1942NYFCC AwardNew York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest DirectorYankee 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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