Norman Taurog was an American film director and screenwriter who, at the age of 32, became the youngest person to win the Academy Award for Best Director for his picture ‘Skippy.’ With 180 films under his belt, he directed various comedies, including some with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, as well as musicals, nine of which starring Elvis Presley. Spencer Tracy, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Mickey Rooney were among the most well-known stars of the twentieth century with whom he collaborated. Taurog began performing on stage as a youngster at a young age and became well-known for his charming face and innocent demeanor. As a young adolescent, he dabbled in acting and made his movie debut in the short film ‘Tangled Relations.’ He dabbled in theater in his late teens, largely off-Broadway. He tried but failed to break into the film industry as a romantic lead. Instead, he shifted his emphasis behind the camera and began making films, starting with two-reel silent comedies. He directed ‘Lucky Boy,’ a feature picture he co-directed with Charles C. Wilson, after making many short films. After a nearly five-decade career as a director, he retired and went on to teach at the University of California School of Cinema.
Childhood and Adolescence
Norman Taurog was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Arthur Jack Taurog and Anita Taurog (née Goldsmith) on February 23, 1899. He was introduced to show business as a youngster and began his career as a child actor on stage at a young age. He made his cinematic debut at the age of 13 in the short film ‘Tangled Relations.’ He spent his late adolescent years onstage, largely off-Broadway.
Career of Norman Taurog
When he was younger, he tried to make a comeback in films as a romantic lead, but he was not very successful. By this time, his interests had shifted away from acting and toward directing. In 1919, he switched to directing and worked on ‘The Sportsman’ with Larry Semon (1920).
There was no turning back once he was bitten by the directorial bug, and he went on to create a series of 42 silent films, largely shorts. Early in his career, he specialized on humor and frequently collaborated with Semon.
‘Lucky Boy,’ which he co-directed with Charles C. Wilson, was his debut feature picture. In 1931, he had a significant breakthrough when he directed ‘Skippy,’ a film about a little kid and his antics and adventures. The film was a huge hit, establishing Taurog as a well-known Hollywood filmmaker.
He directed a series of well-received films over the next few years, and his 1938 biographical drama film ‘Boys Town,’ based on Father Edward J. Flanagan’s work with a group of underprivileged and delinquent boys, demonstrated the talented director’s versatility, as he had previously been known primarily for comedies.
He began the 1940s with Mickey Rooney in the title character in ‘Young Tom Edison,’ a biographical picture about the early life of inventor Thomas Edison. In 1943, he directed Judy Garland and Van Heflin in the musical picture ‘Presenting Lily Mars,’ which was based on a novel by Booth Tarkington and starred Judy Garland and Van Heflin.
In 1947, he expanded his horizons by directing ‘The Beginning or the End,’ a docudrama film about the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. The film dramatizes the Manhattan Project’s development of the atomic bomb and the bombing of Hiroshima, however it contains certain factual mistakes. It did not become a commercial success.
He directed the famed comic pair Martin and Lewis in the military comedy ‘Jumping Jacks’ in 1952. ‘The Stooge’ (1953), ‘The Caddy’ (1954), ‘Living It Up’ (1955), and ‘You’re Never Too Young’ (1956) were among his many collaborations with the comedy duo during the following several years (1954).
Taurog rose to prominence as a result of his work with Elvis Presley. In 1960, he supervised the singing superstar for the first time in the film ‘G.I. Blues.’ The film was a smash hit, and Taurog and Presley collaborated on eight additional films, including ‘Blue Hawai’i (1961), ‘Girls! Girls! Girls!’ (1962), ‘Tickle Me’ (1965), and ‘Spinout’ (1966). (1966).
Norman Taurog, now over 70 years old, withdrew from filmmaking in 1968 and went on to teach at the University of California School of Cinema. He also served on the board of the Director’s Guild.
Major Projects of Norman Taurog
‘Skippy,’ a film about the exploits of a little boy, his pals, and a dog, is his most well-known film. It was a surprising smash, receiving numerous Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Director, which Taurog won. ‘Sooky,’ a sequel to the smash blockbuster film, was also made.
In the historical drama film ‘Boys Town,’ which also starred Mickey Rooney and Leslie Fenton, Taurog directed Spencer Tracy as Father Edward J. Flanagan. The picture was a huge success, grossing more than $2 million and earning Taurog an Academy Award nomination.
Achievements & Awards
For ‘Skippy,’ Norman Taurog received the Academy Award for Best Director (1931). For ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,’ he received the Mussolini Cup for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival in 1938. Norman Taurog has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1600 Vine Street for his contributions to the motion film business.
Personal History and Legacy
Julie Leonard was his first wife, whom he married in 1925. In 1943, the couple split after having one child. In 1944, he married Susan Ream Broderick for the second time. They are wedded till he passes away. Norman Taurog passed away on April 7, 1981, at the age of 82. During his final years, he was legally blind.
Estimated Net Worth
Norman is one of the wealthiest directors and one of the most well-known. Norman Taurog’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
He became the youngest person to win an Academy Award for Best Director at the age of 32 years and 260 days.