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Gregory La Cava

gregory la cava, gregory la cava film director
Gregory La Cava March 10, 1892 – March 1, 1952 was an American film director best known for his films of the 1930s, including My Man Godfrey and Stage Door, which earned him nominations for Academy Award for Best Director


  • 1 Career
    • 11 Animator
    • 12 Live action reels and features
  • 2 Filmography
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links


He was born in Towanda, Pennsylvania and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students' League


Around 1913, he started doing odd jobs at the studio of Raoul Barré By 1915, he was an animator on the Animated Grouch Chasers series

Play media Policy and Pie part 1 of 2 1918 Play media Policy and Pie part 2 of 2 1918

Towards the end of 1915, William Randolph Hearst decided to create an animation studio to promote the comic strips printed in his newspapers He called the new company International Film Service, and he hired La Cava to run it for double what he was making with Barré La Cava's first employee was his co-worker at the Barré Studio, Frank Moser Another was his fellow student in Chicago, Grim Natwick later to achieve fame at Disney As he developed more and more of Hearst's comics into cartoon series, he came to put semi-independent units in charge of each, leading to the growth of individual styles

La Cava also had the significant advantage over other studios of an unlimited budget: Hearst's business sense completely broke down when it came to his Hearst-Vitagraph News Pictorial and the "living comic strips" they contained La Cava's main fault as a producer and director was that his cartoons were too clearly animated comic strips, hampered by speech balloons when rival Bray Studio was creating more effective series with original characters He was apparently aware of this fault, and he had his animators study Charlie Chaplin films to improve their timing and characterization But he didn't have time to achieve very much, because in July 1918, Hearst's bankers caught up with him and International Film Service was shut down

Hearst still wanted his characters animated, so he licensed various studios to continue the IFS series La Cava and most of the IFS staff got jobs with John Terry's studio not surprising since John Terry himself was an IFS alumnus This only lasted a few months before Terry's studio went out of business The animators were immediately hired by Goldwyn-Bray as the Bray Studio was now known, but La Cava was not, since Goldwyn-Bray had several producers of its own and La Cava was not interested in starting over Instead, he moved west to Hollywood

Live action reels and featuresedit

By 1922, La Cava had become a live-action director of two-reel comedies, the direct competitor to animated films Among the actors he directed in the silent era are:

  • Bebe Daniels Feel My Pulse, 1928
  • Richard Dix
  • W C Fields So's Your Old Man, 1926 and Running Wild, 1927 He became a good friend and drinking companion of Fields

La Cava worked his way up to feature films in the silent era, but it is for his work in sound films of the 1930s—especially comedies—that he is best known today And though he did not always get credit, he also often had a hand in creating the screenplays for his films Among the sound films he directed are:

  • Laugh and Get Rich 1931 with Edna May Oliver and Hugh Herbert
Helen Hayes in La Cava's film What Every Woman Knows 1934
  • The Half-Naked Truth 1932 with Lupe Velez and Lee Tracy
  • The Age of Consent 1932 for RKO, starring Richard Cromwell, Eric Linden, and Dorothy Wilson
  • Symphony of Six Million 1932 for RKO, based on a story by Fannie Hurst and starring Ricardo Cortez and Irene Dunne, which featured one of the first symphonic scores of the talkie era by Max Steiner
  • Bed of Roses 1932 with Constance Bennett and Pert Kelton
  • Gabriel Over the White House 1933 with Walter Huston
  • What Every Woman Knows 1934 with Helen Hayes
  • The Affairs of Cellini 1934 with Constance Bennett and Fredric March
  • Private Worlds 1935 with Claudette Colbert, Charles Boyer and Joel McCrea
  • She Married Her Boss 1935 with Claudette Colbert
  • My Man Godfrey 1936, nominated for the Best Director Academy Award with William Powell and Carole Lombard
  • Stage Door 1937, also nominated for Best Director with Katharine Hepburn as well as his first of three consecutive film with Ginger Rogers
  • Fifth Avenue Girl 1939 with Ginger Rogers and Walter Connolly
  • Primrose Path 1940 with Ginger Rogers and Joel McCrea

His output dropped severely in the 1940s, and he only officially directed one film after 1942, Living in a Big Way 1947

La Cava died nine days before his 60th birthday on March 1, 1952 in Malibu, California His remains were buried at Chapel of the Pines Crematory


Year Film Academy Award Nominations Academy Award Wins
1921 His Nibs
1923 The Life of Reilly
Beware of the Dog
1924 Restless Wives
The New School Teacher
1925 Womanhandled
1926 Let's Get Married
Say It Again
So's Your Old Man
1927 Paradise for Two
Running Wild
Tell It to Sweeney
The Gay Defender
1928 Half a Bride
Feel My Pulse
1929 Saturday's Children
Big News
His First Command
1931 Laugh and Get Rich
Smart Woman
1932 Symphony of Six Million
The Age of Consent
The Half-Naked Truth
1933 Gabriel Over the White House
Bed of Roses
Gallant Lady
1934 The Affairs of Cellini 4 0
What Every Woman Knows
1935 Private Worlds 1 0
She Married Her Boss
1936 My Man Godfrey 6 0
1937 Stage Door 4 0
1939 5th Ave Girl
1940 Primrose Path 1 0
1941 Unfinished Business
1942 Lady in a Jam
1947 Living in a Big Way
1948 One Touch of Venus


  • George Carpetto, "Gregory La Cava," in Italian Americans of the Twentieth Century, ed George Carpetto Tampa, FL: Loggia Press, 1999, pp 196-197
  • Joe Adamson; The Walter Lantz Story; G P Putnam's Sons; ISBN 0-399-13096-9 1985
  • Donald Crafton; Before Mickey: The Animated Film: 1898–1928; The University of Chicago Press; ISBN 0-226-11667-0 1982, 1993
  • Leonard Maltin; Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons; Penguin Books; ISBN 0-452-25993-2 1980, 1987

External linksedit

  • Gregory La Cava on Internet Movie Database
  • Gregory La Cava at Find a Grave

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