Biography of George Cukor

George Cukor was one of Hollywood's most celebrated directors of the 20th century, perhaps best known for his treatment of screwball comedies and adaptations. A New Yorker born to Jewish parents on the Lower East Side, Cukor demonstrated an early interest in theater and entertainment, appearing as a supernumerary at the Metropolitan Opera and taking dance lessons. After a brief stint with the army, Cukor worked as a stage manager and a general manager at regional and summer stock theaters. From there he began to direct, on Broadway during the year, and upstate in Rochester, NY in the summers.

As Hollywood transitioned from silent films into sound pictures, many studio executives were looking for theater directors to help them make the switch, and Cukor enthusiastically volunteered. He began as a coach and an apprentice, working with actors on speech and diction, before directing his first film Tarnished Lady in 1931. Because of his success with actresses, Cukor quickly became known as a "women's director," but he certainly had a magic touch with a variety of performers, directing a number of Academy Award-winning performances throughout his career. In 1936, Cukor signed on to direct the iconic film Gone with the Wind, but when star Clark Gable didn't get along with him, he was fired from the process. That hardly hurt his career, however, and Cukor directed a slew of classic films, including The Women, The Philadelphia Story, A Woman's Face, Gaslight, A Double Life, Adam's Rib, Born Yesterday, It Should Happen to You, A Star is Born, Les Girls, Wild is the Wind, My Fair Lady, Travels with my Aunt, The Corn is Green, and his final film, Rich and Famous.

Beyond his directorial gifts and successful career, George Cukor was a well-liked and popular fixture in the social scene in Hollywood, known for hosting lavish parties for Hollywood's elite. Cukor was known to be gay during a time when that was hardly talked about, and his home was also an unofficial haven for closeted actors, writers, and artists of the time.

Study Guides on Works by George Cukor

The Philadelphia Story remains one of the best-loved romantic comedies—more specifically, a “comedy of remarriage”—of the 20th century, and features a stunning cast of Hollywood heavyweights delivering some of the most crystalline dialogue in...