We’ve had quizzes about stars, about films, and last week about directors, so we thought why not a quiz about Hollywood producers. And why not start off with filmdom’s most famous producer David O. Selznick?
He was, of course, the driving force propelling Gone With The Wind to the screens in 1939. While Hollywood’s most internationally famous epic is perhaps the producer’s signature triumph, it is just one of many notable films shepherded by Selznick over a long and vastly productive career spanning the silent movie years through the late Fifties. (Selznick died of multiple heart attacks in 1965 at the age of 63.)
His father, Lewis J. Selznick, ran a film company in the early Twenties, and before a spell at New York’s Columbia Univ., son David began working there while still in his teens. His first credit of record came in 1923, the same year his father’s company went bankrupt. In 1926, David departed New York for Hollywood.
He spent his early years at MGM, Paramount, RKO and then back to MGM where he made GWTW. Fiercely independent and a reckless gambler, he formed his own production outfit, Selznick Releasing Org., which not only generated a series of classic titles but also a roster of distinguished star under contract to the producer.
As British critic David Thomson inquires: For all Scott Fitzgerald’s comparison of (MGM production chief Irving) Thalberg with Monroe Star, is Selznick really not the more heroic and talented figure?
Ok, let’s see how much you know about this complex and fascinating producer. Questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: The ‘O’ was not part of name at Selznick’s birth. How did it get there as a middle initial? a) MGM head Louis B. Mayer insisted Selznick have a middle initial, and he complied; b) The initial was added by Selznick himself for euphony; c) The producer liked the name Oliver, and thus the middle initial; or d) The addition was suggested by Groucho Marx as a gag, and Selznick joined in the fun.
2) Question: Selznick introduced and/or promoted some of the biggest names of classic Hollywood. Which one of the following was NOT one of his proteges? a) Alfred Hitchcock; b) Joseph Cotten; c) Ingrid Bergman; or d) Olivia DeHavilland.
3) Question: Actress Jennifer Jones was famously Selznick’s second wife and the love of his life. Who was his first wife? a) Irene Mayer; b) Claudette Colbert; c) Hedy Lamarr; or d) Maureen O’Hara.
4) Question: Thanks to his 1934 production, Selznick had had a long distance historical relationship with infamous Thirties bank robber John Dillinger. Can you figure out the connection?
5) Question: Selznick was widely respected in Hollywood not only for his productions but also for his financial acumen. a) True; or b) False?