Michael Curtiz

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Michael Curtiz (December 24, 1886 — April 10, 1962) was a Hungarian-American director.[1] He had early credits as Mihály Kertész and Michael Kertész. He directed more than fifty films in Europe and more than one hundred in the United States. The best-known were The Adventures of Robin Hood, Angels with Dirty Faces, Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and White Christmas. He thrived in the heyday of the Warner Bros. studio in the 1930s and '40s.

He was less successful from the late 1940s onwards, when he attempted to move from studio direction into production and freelance work, but he continued working until shortly before his death.



Early life

Curtiz was born Manó Kertész Kaminer to a Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary (then Austria-Hungary). He claimed to have been born December 24, 1886. Both the date and the year are open to doubt: he was fond of telling tall stories about his early years, including that he had run away from home to join the circus and that he had been a member of the Hungarian fencing team at the 1912 Olympic Games, but he seems to have had a conventional middle-class upbringing. He studied at Markoszy University and the Royal Academy of Theater and Art, Budapest, before beginning his career as an actor and director as Mihály Kertész at the National Hungarian Theater in 1912.[2]

Details of his early experience as a director are sparse, and it is not clear what part he may have played in the direction of several early films, but he is known to have directed at least one film in Hungary before spending six months in 1913 at the Nordisk studio in Denmark honing his craft. While in Denmark, Curtiz worked as the assistant director for August Blom on Denmark's first multi-reel feature film, Atlantis. On the outbreak of World War I, he briefly served in the artillery of the Austro-Hungarian Army, but he had returned to film-making by 1915. In that or the following year he married for the first time, to actress Lucy Doraine. The couple divorced in 1923.

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