Darryl Francis Zanuck (September 5, 1902 – December 22, 1979) was an American producer, writer, actor, director, and studio executive who played a major part in the Hollywood studio system as one of its longest survivors (the length of his career being rivalled only by that of Adolph Zukor).
Zanuck was born in Wahoo, Nebraska, the son of Louise (née Torpin) and Frank Zanuck, who owned and operated the Grand Hotel in Wahoo. Zanuck was of part Swiss descent and was raised a Protestant. At six, Zanuck and his mother moved to Los Angeles, where the better climate could improve her poor health. At eight, he found his first movie job as an extra, but his disapproving father recalled him to Nebraska.
In 1918, despite being sixteen, he deceived a recruiter and joined the United States Army and served in France with the Nebraska National Guard. Returning to the U.S., he worked in many part-time jobs while he tried to find work as a writer. He managed to find work producing movie plots, selling his first story in 1922 to William Russell and his second to Irving Thalberg. He then worked for Mack Sennett and took that experience to Warner Bros. where he wrote stories for Rin Tin Tin and under a number of pseudonyms wrote over forty scripts from 1924–1929, including Old San Francisco (1927). He moved into management in 1929 and became head of production in 1931.
In 1933 he left Warners to found 20th Century Films with Joseph Schenck and William Goetz, releasing their material through United Artists. In 1935 they bought out Fox studios to become 20th Century Fox. Zanuck was vice-president of this new studio and took an interventionist approach, closely involved in editing and producing. During the war he worked for the Army.
In the 1950s, he withdrew from the studio to concentrate on independent producing in Europe. He left his wife, Virginia Fox Zanuck, in 1956 and moved to Europe to concentrate on producing. Many of his later films were designed in part to promote the careers of his successive girlfriends, Bella Darvi, Irina Demick and Geneviève Gilles, and several movies he produced featured his girlfriend of moment, including the French singer Juliette Gréco.
He returned to control of Fox in 1962, replacing Spyros Skouras, in a confrontation over the release of Zanuck's production of The Longest Day as the studio struggled to finish the difficult production of Cleopatra. He made his son Richard D. Zanuck head of production. He became involved in a power struggle with the board and his son from around 1969. In May 1971 Zanuck was finally forced from "his" studio.
He died of jaw cancer in Palm Springs, California at the age of 77, and was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in the Westwood Village section of Los Angeles, California.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Darryl F. Zanuck has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6336 Hollywood Blvd and has won 3 Thalberg Awards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. On the present-day FOX lot, movies are shown in the Zanuck Theater.
On discovering actress Gene Tierney after appearing on Broadway in The Male Animal after her first film "undeniably the most beautiful actress in movie history."
In 1946 Zanuck said "(Television) won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."
2.^ Gussow, Mel (September 1, 2002). "FILM; Darryl F. Zanuck, Action Hero of the Studio Era". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/01/movies/film-darryl-f-zanuck-action-hero-of-the-studio-era.html?pagewanted=1. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
3.^ Charlotte Mosley, editor, In Tearing Haste: Letters Between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh-Fermor, 2008, John Murray
Behlmer, Rudy (editor) (1993). Memo from Darryl F. Zanuck: The Golden Years at Twentieth Century-Fox. Grove. ISBN 0802115403.
Mosley, Leonard (1984). Zanuck: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood's Last Tycoon. Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-58538-6.
Thackrey Jr., Thomas. (December 23, 1979). "Darryl F. Zanuck, Last of Movie Moguls, Dies at 77". Los Angeles Times, p. 1.