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Mervyn LeRoy (October 15, 1900 - September 13, 1987) was an American film director, producer and sometime actor.

Early life

Born to Jewish parents in San Francisco, Californiamarker, his family was financially ruined by the 1906 earthquake. (His paternal grandfather owned a successful San Francisco department store that was destroyed in the quake; the store was heavily insured, but the insurance company went bankrupt in the aftermath of the earthquake.) To make money, young Mervyn sold newspapers and entered talent shows as a singer. Through this he worked his way into vaudeville. When his act broke up, he and his cousin, Jesse Lasky, went to Hollywoodmarker.


LeRoy worked in costumes, processing labs and as a camera assistant until he became a gag writer and actor in silent films. His first directing job was in 1927's No Place to Go. When his movies made lots of money without costing too much, he became well-received in the movie business.

In 1931 he directed the gangster epic Little Caesar, launched Edward G. Robinson into stardom and LeRoy's career was made. In 1938 he was chosen as head of production at MGM. It was his doing that the studio made The Wizard of Oz. He was responsible for discovering Clark Gable, Loretta Young, Robert Mitchum and Lana Turner.

In the 1950s LeRoy directed such musicals as Lovely to Look At, Million Dollar Mermaid, Latin Lovers and Rose Marie. He moved to Warner Brothers, where he was responsible for such famous films as Mister Roberts, The Bad Seed, No Time for Sergeants, The FBI Story and Gypsy.

He was nominated in 1943 for Best Director for Random Harvest. and also in 1940 as the producer of The Wizard of Oz. In addition, he received an honorary Oscar in 1946 for The House I Live In, "for tolerance short subject", and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1976.

Later life

LeRoy retired in 1965 and wrote his autobiography, Take One, in 1974. He died in Beverly Hills, Californiamarker and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemeterymarker in Glendale, Californiamarker. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker at 1560 Vine Street.

A fan of Thoroughbred horse racing, Mervyn LeRoy was a founding investor in Hollywood Park Racetrackmarker and a member of the track's Board of Directors from 1941 until his death in 1986. In partnership with father-in-law Harry Warner during the 1940s and 50s he operated a racing stable under the name, W-L Ranch Co.

His son, Warner LeRoy, became a well-known restauranteur.

Partial filmography


  1. Mervyn LeRoy - Biography, Bruce Eder, Allmovie
  2. Hollywood Park History

External links

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