Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck

American actor, writer, director and producer
Date of Birth: 05.09.1902
Country: USA

Biography of Darryl Francis Zanuck

Darryl Francis Zanuck was an American actor, writer, director, and producer who played a significant role in the development of the Hollywood studio system. In fact, Hollywood owes much of its long history of success to Zanuck. He was one of the longest-serving Hollywood executives, with only Adolph Zukor having worked in the industry longer.

Darryl F. Zanuck

Zanuck was born in Wahoo, Nebraska to Louise Torpin and Frank Zanuck, who managed a local hotel. He had Swiss ancestry and was raised in the Protestant church. At the age of six, his mother moved him to Los Angeles in the hope that the more favorable climate would improve her deteriorating health. At the age of eight, Zanuck got his first job, but unfortunately, his acting career did not take off at that time as his father brought him back to Nebraska.

In 1918, at the age of sixteen, Zanuck lied about his age to a recruiter and joined the U.S. Army. He spent some time in France as part of the Nebraska National Guard. Upon returning to the States, Zanuck took on various odd jobs while trying to establish himself as a writer. After some time, he managed to find work as a screenwriter and sold his first story to William Russell in 1922. Irvin Thalberg became Zanuck's second client, and he went on to collaborate with Mack Sennett and Warner Bros. Between 1924 and 1929, Zanuck wrote about 40 screenplays under different pseudonyms.

In 1929, Zanuck turned to management and became the head of the production department at a studio. In 1933, he left Warner Bros. and founded a company called "20th Century Films" with Joseph Schenck and William Goetz. In 1935, their company purchased the Fox studios and changed its name to "20th Century Fox." Zanuck held the position of Vice President in the merged company and continued to actively engage in directing and producing. During World War II, Zanuck worked for the U.S. Army.

In the 1950s, Zanuck left 20th Century Fox to focus on independent production in Europe. In 1956, he even left his wife, Virginia Fox Zanuck, and moved to Europe to concentrate on producing. He did not intend to remain faithful to his marriage, as a number of his films were clearly aimed at promoting the careers of his many girlfriends, such as Bella Darvi, Irina Demick, Geneviève Gilles, and French singer Juliette Gréco.

In 1962, Zanuck returned to Fox, replacing Spyros Skouras as the head of production. His return was marked by a minor conflict regarding the release of the film "The Longest Day." After some time, his son Richard D. Zanuck took over as the head of the production department. The new leader had to fight with the board, and in May 1971, Zanuck was ultimately forced to leave "his own" studio.

Zanuck passed away from cancer in Palm Springs, California at the age of 77. For his contributions to the film industry, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.