You’ve heard his name. You’ve seen him billed on screen. But who was he?
With a name like that he must have been an actor. Yes?
Well, let’s put it this way. The opening credits for movies in the classic Hollywood period — nowhere near as elaborate as they are today — concisely provided the basics of who did what in front of and behind the cameras.
Usually stars come first then key supporting players followed by technical credits, particularly director of photography, art director and makeup, and then, perhaps, composer of the film score. But just before the final director identification rolls around comes — the producer, a credit most of the audience hardly understands and usually ignores.
Often there are variations of the producer credit — assistant producer, executive producer (usually connected to the movie’s financial backing) and associate producer. As Billy Wilder quipped, the latter was the only one on the picture who would associate with the producer.
Anyway, today’s Quiz subject, Hunt Stromberg (pictured below with Greer Garson) was a producer, with a capital P.
His 30-year-career, spent mostly at MGM, began in the early Twenties not long after the silents shuffled off center stage. By the late Thirties, his success was such that the U.S. Treasuring Dept., no less, ranked him as one of the ten highest paid executives in the country.
He had taste and a feel for the box officel. Stromberg was a Producer.
Let’s see if you can answer some basic questions about the man. Answers tomorrow.
1) Question: Stromberg’s reputation within Hollywood was such that his name was ranked among an elite circle that comprised Irving Thalberg, David O. Selznick, Walter Wanger and Louis B. Mayer. a) True; b) False?
2) Question: Stromberg was best known as the producer of a) all of Jean Harlow’s films; b) Greta Garbo’s first American picture; c) a bevy of Nelson Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald operettas; or d) the ‘Thin Man” series with William Powell and Myrna Loy.
3) Question: Although considered independently wealthy by the Fifties, Stromberg managed to lose a fortune in betting on horse racing. a) True; or b) False.
4) Question: Which of the following did Stromberg NOT produce? a) 1936’s The Great Ziegfeld; b) 1938’s Marie Antoinette; c) 1939’s The Women; or d) 1943’s Lady of Burlesque.
5) Question: Stromberg early in his career became a protege of which one of the following? a) Thomas Ince; b) Charlie Chaplin; c) Walt Disney; or d) Samuel Goldwyn.