Sam Wood Poster


Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (14)  | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (5)

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Died in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameSamuel Grosvenor Wood
Nickname Chad Applegate
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Following a two-year apprenticeship under Cecil B. DeMille as assistant director, Samuel Grosvenor Wood had the good fortune to have assigned to him two of the biggest stars at Paramount during their heyday: Wallace Reid (between 1919 and 1920) and Gloria Swanson (from 1921 to 1923). By the time his seven-year contract with Paramount expired, the former real estate dealer had established himself as one of Hollywood's most reliable (if not individualistic) feature directors. Not bad for a former real estate broker and small-time theatrical thesp. In 1927, Wood joined MGM and remained under contract there until 1939. During this tenure he was very much in sync with the studio's prevalent style of production, reliably turning out between two and three films a year (of which the majority were routine subjects).

Most of his films in the 1920s were standard fare and it was not until he directed two gems with The Marx Brothers, A Night at the Opera (1935) and A Day at the Races (1937) that his career picked up again. Looking at the finished product it is difficult to reconcile this to Groucho Marx finding Wood "rigid and humourless". Maybe, this assessment was due to Wood being vociferously right-wing in his personal views which would not have sat well with the famous comedian. His testimonies in 1947 before the House Un-American Activities Committee certainly gained Wood more enemies than friends within the industry.

Regardless of his personality or his habitually having to shoot each scene twenty times over, Wood turned out some very powerful dramatic films during the last ten years of his life, beginning with Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939). This popular melodrama earned him his first Academy Award nomination. At RKO, he coaxed an Oscar-winning performance out of Ginger Rogers (and was again nominated himself) for Kitty Foyle (1940). Ronald Reagan gave, arguably, his best performance in Kings Row (1942) under Wood's direction. His most expensive (and longest, at 170 minutes) assignment took him back to Paramount. This was Ernest Hemingway's Spanish Civil War drama For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), bought for $150,000 (De Mille was originally slated as director). In spite of editorial incongruities and the relatively uneven pace, the picture turned out to be the biggest (and last) hit of Wood's career.

Sam Wood died of a heart attack on September 22 1949. He has a star on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (1)

Clara Louise Roush (21 August 1908 - 22 September 1949) ( his death) ( 2 children)

Trivia (14)

Before becoming a director, Wood had worked on pipelines for an oil company.
Former real estate broker.
Appeared as actor in the early part of the century under the name Chad Applegate.
Late in his life, he served as the President of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a right-wing political organization whose aim was to ferret out "subversives" in Hollywood. In this capacity, he provided key testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947, helping to fan fears of Communist influence in the U.S. film industry.
Father of actresses K.T. Stevens and Jeane Wood.
Ex-father-in-law of Hugh Marlowe and Joe Sawyer.
Directed 11 actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Robert Donat, Greer Garson, Martha Scott, Ginger Rogers, Charles Coburn, Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, Katina Paxinou, Akim Tamiroff, Ingrid Bergman and Flora Robson. Donat, Paxinou and Rogers won Oscars for their performances in one of Wood's movies.
The Wood sisters Natalie Wood, Lana Wood, and Olga Wood were named after him.
Is portrayed by John Getz in Trumbo (2015).
Along with Ernst Lubitsch, Jack Conway, Michael Curtiz, Victor Fleming, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Francis Ford Coppola, Herbert Ross and Steven Soderbergh, he is one of ten directors to have more than one film nominated for Best Picture in the same year and the only one to achieve this feat twice. Kitty Foyle (1940) and Our Town (1940) were both so nominated at the 13th Academy Awards in 1941 while Kings Row (1942) and The Pride of the Yankees (1942) were both so nominated at the 15th Academy Awards in 1943.
Directed eight Oscar Best Picture nominees: The Good Earth (1937) (uncredited), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), Gone with the Wind (1939) (uncredited), Our Town (1940), Kitty Foyle (1940), Kings Row (1942), The Pride of the Yankees (1942) and For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943).
In his book about writer Dalton Trumbo, who worked with Wood on the film Kitty Foyle, author Bruce Cook claims that Wood was a member of the Knights of the White Camelia, a Klan-like organization, Hollywood chapter.
Invited the first House Committee on Un-American Activities, under the chairmanship of Texas congressman Martin Dies, to come out to Hollywood to investigate Communist infiltration of the movie industry.
He has directed two films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: A Night at the Opera (1935) and Gone with the Wind (1939) (uncredited).

Personal Quotes (2)

[on working with Gary Cooper in The Pride of the Yankees (1942)] You're positive he's going to ruin your picture. I froze in my tracks the first time I directed him. I thought something was wrong with him, saw a million-dollar production go glimmering. I was amazed at the result on the screen. What I thought was underplaying turned out to be just the right approach. On the screen he's perfect, yet on the set you'd swear it's the worst job of acting in the history of motion pictures.
There is as much need for relief from comedy as from the starkest tragedy. Audiences may think that they'd like to laugh every minute, but they wouldn't. The emotional demands are just too great. That's why, in A Day at the Races (1937), the romance and music are included as interludes.

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