Leo McCarey was an American film director who made movies like “Duck Soup” and “The Awful Truth.” He won an Academy Award for his work. During the 1930s, he became known for making screwball comedies. This made him one of the most popular comedy directors in Hollywood before World War II. After the war, he changed his focus to movies with a social message or a religious theme. He was just as successful in these types of movies as he was before. He was trained as a lawyer, but he got into making movies by accident. He was a good-looking young man, and his childhood friend, the actor and future director David Butler, told Tod Browning about him. Browning told him that he should work on the creative side of making movies instead of becoming an actor. So, McCarey started out by writing jokes before moving on to directing. He worked at Hal Roach Studios, where he got better at being funny and played a big part in getting Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy more work. After becoming known for his comedies, he started making movies with strong social messages and religious undertones. He was a very good director, screenwriter, and producer, and he was involved in making around 200 movies in different genres. He won three Academy Awards.
Early years and childhood
Thomas Leo McCarey was born in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on October 3, 1898. His parents were Thomas J. McCarey and Leona (Mistrot) McCarey, who was born in France. The Los Angeles Times once called his father “the greatest fight promoter in the world.”
He went to St. Joseph’s Catholic School and Los Angeles High School before his father told him to go to law school at the University of Southern California. After he graduated, he worked as a criminal defense lawyer for a while and also tried his hand at mining, boxing, and writing songs.
Leo McCarey’s Career
David Butler, an actor who would also become a director, was McCarey’s friend when they were kids. Butler told director Tod Browning about McCarey, and Browning hired the creative young man as an assistant director in 1919.
In 1923, he started working as a gagman for Hal Roach Studios. At first, he wrote jokes for the “Our Gang” series and other studio stars. He then worked with Charley Chase in a very successful way and made and directed a number of short films.
While he was at Roach, McCarey decided to pair up Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, who were two of the best comedians at the studio. The comedy team of Laurel and Hardy was very popular, and McCarey made 19 movies with them in them.
In 1929, McCarey made his first full-length movies, called “The Sophomore” and “Red Hot Rhythm.” In 1930, he directed “Part-Time Wife,” a comedy about a couple who have grown apart but get back together through golf. Edmund Lowe and Leila Hyams played the couple.
He made “Duck Soup” with the Marx Brothers in 1933. The movie didn’t do well when it came out, but over time it gained a cult following and is now seen as one of the best comedies of all time.
During the 1930s, he made a number of comedies that were typical of his unique blend of reality and farce. One of his best-known movies from this time was the screwball comedy The Awful Truth, which starred Cary Grant and Irene Dunne (1937).
He was known for his comedies, but in the 1940s, he started making more serious movies. His 1944 movie “Going My Way,” which starred Bing Crosby and was about a priest who did things in an unusual way, was a big hit.
McCarey and Crosby worked together again on “The Bells of St. Mary’s,” which was also a big hit and was made in 1945.
After World War II, his career went downhill, and his movies weren’t as popular as they used to be. In 1952, he directed and made the movie “My Son John,” which was about a man whose parents think he might be a Communist spy. The movie did not do well at the box office.
He directed, produced, and helped write the script for the 1957 romantic drama “An Affair to Remember,” which starred Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. Love Affair, which starred Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer in 1939, was remade into this movie.
He directed and produced the 1958 comedy “Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!” with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. It was the first comedy McCarey had written in 10 years. His last movie was “Satan Never Sleeps,” which came out in 1962 and did not do well.
His Works of note
He was in charge of the comedy “The Awful Truth,” in which Irene Dunne and Cary Grant played a couple about to get divorced. The movie was a commercial and critical hit, and in 1996, the United States National Film Registry chose to keep it around because it was “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
Going My Way, a musical comedy directed and produced by Leo McCarey in 1944, made the most money of any movie that year. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won seven, including Best Picture.
Awards & Achievements
He won the Oscar for Best Director for “The Awful Truth” in 1937.
With “Going My Way” in 1944, he won his second Academy Award for Best Director. For the same movie, he also won the Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Story).
Personal History and Legacies
In 1920, he took Stella Martin as his wife. They had a daughter named Virginia and were married for nearly 50 years until McCarey died in 1969.
Leo McCarey died on July 5, 1969, from emphysema. He was 70 years old.
Estimated Net worth
Leo is one of the wealthiest Directors and is on the list of the most well-known Directors. Based on what we found on Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, Leo McCarey has a net worth of about $5 million.