Gregory La Cava is best known for the comedy “My Man Godfrey” and “Stage Door.” He was noted for his unorthodox direction style and inventive handling of humorous topics. He was one of the most prominent directors in Hollywood during the 1930s. He was known for eliciting the best performances from the females, earning him the moniker of “women’s director.” He didn’t just direct ladies to perfection; he also directed several of his era’s greatest actors to Academy Award nominations. He became interested in the visual arts as a young lad and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students’ League. He is a highly creative and imaginative individual. He began his career as a newspaper reporter and cartoonist before transitioning to animated film work at Raoul Barré’s studio during the silent era. He was later engaged by media magnate William Randolph Hearst to work for his International Film Service as a highly accomplished young guy. La Cava grew increasingly ambitious over time and ventured into Hollywood, where he became a successful film director. Despite his talent behind the camera, he succumbed to the sin of alcoholism, which ultimately led to his demise.
Childhood and Adolescence
Gregory La Cava was born into a poor family on March 10, 1892, in Towanda, Pennsylvania, United States. He was artistic from a young age and began exhibiting his inventiveness at a young age. He began studying painting at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students’ League of New York after graduating from high school. However, due to his family’s severe financial position, he had to drop college and get a job.
Career of Gregory La Cava
He began his career as a newspaper reporter in Rochester, New York, and later worked as a cartoonist for two newspapers, the ‘New York Globe’ and the ‘Evening World.’ In 1913, his reputation as a cartoonist led to a career as an animator in the studio of Raoul Barre, a silent-era animator. Barre was so impressed by the young man’s abilities and tenacity that he was quickly promoted to one of the main animators on the successful ‘Animated Grouch Chaser’ series.
In 1915, William Randolph Hearst, a multibillionaire and newspaper magnate, founded a competing animation studio, International Film Service (IFS), and hired La Cava from his competition. La Cava, who was appointed as the new organization’s editor-in-chief, kept the role until the company’s closure in 1918.
La Cava continued to develop animated shorts after IFS closed. He began writing and directing two-reel comedic shorts and features in the early 1920s, transitioning from silent films to live-action projects. In 1921, he made his Hollywood directorial debut with Colleen Moore in ‘His Nibs.’ ‘A Social Error’ was released in 1922, followed by ‘Helpful Hogan’ and ‘The Fiddling Fool’ in 1923, and ‘Restless Wives’ and ‘The New Professor’ in 1924.
During the silent era, he had limited success before breaking into talkies in the late 1920s with ‘Saturday’s Children’ in 1929. During the 1930s, his career took off as his pictures became more mainstream. During this time, he also had the opportunity to work with some of Hollywood’s best stars and actresses. He directed ‘The Affairs of Cellini’ in 1934, which was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Frank Morgan.
In 1936, La Cava achieved the zenith of his career when he directed ‘My Man Godfrey,’ a comedy starring William Powell and Carole Lombard about a snooty socialite who falls in love with the butler, much to the butler’s chagrin. The picture was a critical and commercial triumph.
He directed the star-studded film ‘Stage Door,’ about aspiring young actresses who share an apartment, in 1937. The picture was a hit, helping to resurrect Katharine Hepburn’s fading career and earning her six Academy Award nominations.
Gregory La Cava was a gifted filmmaker and a highly creative individual, but he was also a known drunkard who would frequently arrive for shoots inebriated. During the 1940s, his drunkenness wreaked havoc on his work life, and his career suffered as a result. During the decade, he directed occasionally, but his career was all but over.
Major Projects of Gregory La Cava
One of the director’s most well-known films is the screwball comedy ‘My Man Godfrey.’ The story of a socialite who falls in love with a butler was a smash hit, grossing millions of dollars. The United States Library of Congress designated the picture as “culturally significant” in 1999, and it was chosen for preservation in the National Film Registry.
La Cava’s film ‘Stage Door,’ derived from the play of the same name, is considered one of his best works. The film, which starred Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Gail Patrick, Constance Collier, and Andrea Leeds as aspiring actresses, garnered positive reviews and was nominated for four Academy Awards.
Achievements & Awards
He received two Academy Award nominations for Best Director: ‘My Man Godfrey’ (1936) and ‘Stage Door’ (1937). (1937). For the film ‘Stage Door,’ he earned the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director in 1937.
At 6906 Hollywood Blvd., he has a star on the Walk of Fame.
Personal History and Legacy
Gregory La Cava was married twice and divorced twice. In 1924, he married Beryl Morse Greene. The pair married for six years and had one child before divorcing in 1930. In 1940, he married Grace Olive Nicholls Hoyt Garland for the second time. This marriage lasted only five years, ending in 1945. He was an alcoholic who died on March 1, 1952, nine days before his 60th birthday, of a heart attack.
Estimated Net Worth
Gregory is one of the wealthiest and most well-known directors. Gregory La Cava’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.