George Seaton (April 17, 1911 – July 28, 1979) was an American screenwriter, playwright, film director and producer, and theatre director.
April 17, 1911
|Died||July 28, 1979 68) (aged|
|Spouse(s)||Phyllis Loughton (1936–79)|
Life and career
Seaton was born George Edward Stenius in South Bend, Indiana, of Swedish descent, the son of Olga (Berglund) and Charles Stenius, who was a chef and restaurant manager. He was baptized as Roman Catholic. He grew up in a Detroit Jewish neighborhood, and described himself as a "Shabas goy". So he went on to learn Hebrew in an Orthodox Jewish Yeshiva and was even bar mitzvahed. He attended Exeter and was meant to go to Yale but instead auditioned for Jesse Bonstelle's drama school in Detroit. She hired him for her stock company at $15 a week.
Seaton worked in stock and on radio. He worked as an actor on radio station WXYZ. John L. Barrett played The Lone Ranger on test broadcasts of the series in early January 1933, but when the program became part of the regular schedule Seaton was cast in the title role. In later years, he claimed to have devised the cry "Hi-yo, Silver" because he couldn't whistle for his horse as the script required.
Writer at MGM
20th Century Fox
In the early 1940s, he joined 20th Century Fox, where he remained for the rest of the decade, writing scripts for That Night in Rio (1941) with Don Ameche and Alice Faye. For a time he specialised in musicals and comedy: Moon Over Miami (1941), with Betty Grable and Ameche, and Charley's Aunt (1941), with Jack Benny.
Seaton wrote a historical war film, Ten Gentlemen from West Point (1942), then did the comedies The Magnificent Dope (1942) with Ameche and Henry Fonda, and The Meanest Man in the World (1943) with Benny.
Seaton had been so successful as a writer he was able to turn director. His first film was Diamond Horseshoe (1945) with Grable, which he also wrote. It was produced by William Perlberg who would go on to produce all of Seaton's films from this time on. The film was very successful.
Seaton wrote and directed The Shocking Miss Pilgrim (1947) with Grable.
He followed it with Miracle on 34th Street (1947), which quickly became acknowledged as a classic. Seaton won an Oscar for his screenplay.
Seaton made two films with Bing Crosby. Little Boy Lost (1953) was not a success but The Country Girl (1954), based on the play by Clifford Odets was a notable triumph. Grace Kelly earned an Oscar for Best Actress and Seaton won an Oscar for his screenplay.
Seaton and Perlberg The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954), directed by Mark Robson, with Holden and Kelly. It was a huge hit.
Seaton directed The 28th Annual Academy Awards in 1956.
Seaton wrote and directed The Proud and Profane (1956) with William Holden and Deborah Kerr, which was a box office disappointment. He directed a short film Williamsburg: The Story of a Patriot (1957) and produced The Tin Star (1957), directed by Anthony Mann.
He was uncredited producer on Twilight of Honor (1963) and directed some additional scenes on Mutiny on the Bounty (1963).
He then directed the Norman Krasna play Love in E Flat, which was a critical and commercial flop. The musical Here's Love, adapted from his screenplay for Miracle on 34th Street by Meredith Willson, proved to be more successful.
Seaton ended his relationship with Perlberg. He went to Universal where he signed a three-picture. The first film was the comedy What's So Bad About Feeling Good? (1968) which Seaton produced and directed as well as writing with Robert Pirosh, with whom he had cowritten A Day at the Races (1937). Seaton disliked writing, producing and directing. "It's too much work," he said.
Seaton then had the biggest hit of his career with the all-star Airport (1970), which Seaton adapted from the novel by Arthur Hailey. It was produced by Ross Hunter. Seaton's script earned him an Oscar nomination.
Seaton's last film as director was his third for Universal Showdown (1973), which he also produced. He announced he was looking for another film to make but none eventuated.
- A Day at the Races (1937)
- The Doctor Takes a Wife (1940) (writer)
- Bedtime Story (1941) (writer only)
- The Song of Bernadette (1943)
- The Meanest Man in the World (1943)
- Junior Miss (1945)
- The Shocking Miss Pilgrim (1947)
- Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
- Apartment for Peggy (1948)
- Chicken Every Sunday (1949)
- The Big Lift (1950)
- For Heaven's Sake (1950)
- Little Boy Lost (1953)
- The Country Girl (1954)
- The Proud and Profane (1956)
- Williamsburg: the Story of a Patriot (1957)
- Teacher's Pet (1958)
- The Pleasure of His Company (1961)
- The Counterfeit Traitor (1962)
- The Hook (1963)
- 36 Hours (1964)
- What's So Bad About Feeling Good? (1968)
- Airport (1970)
- Showdown (1973)
- Hello, I Must Be Going: Groucho and His Friends, p. 187, at Google Books
- George Seaton, Director, Dead; Got Two Oscars for Screenplays: Also Directed 'Country Girl' A Change of Plans By ALFRED E. CLARK. New York Times 29 July 1979: 36.
- Moviefone.com biography Archived 2011-10-04 at the Wayback Machine
- GEORGE SEATON ON TOP: Being an Introduction to a Modest and Successful Movie Writer-Director By HELEN COLTONHOLLYWOOD.. New York Times 14 Nov 1948: X5.
- But Not Goodbye at the Internet Broadway Database
- Memo from Darryl F. Zanuck to all producers at 20th Century Fox, 13 June 1946, Memo from Darryl F. Zanuck, Grove Press, 1993, pp. 108–109
- Multimillion-Dollar Movie Contract Signed Los Angeles Times 13 Nov 1950: 9.
- George Seaton Elected to Head Film Academy Los Angeles Times 11 June 1955: 3.
- George Seaton, Screenwriter; Directed Filming of 'Airport' The Washington Post 30 July 1979: B4.
- Videos -- Williamsburg: The Story of a Patriot directed by George Seaton Anonymous. American Heritage; New York Vol. 45, Iss. 6, (Oct 1994): 109.
- GABLE WILL STAR IN MOVIE COMEDY: Cast in 'But Not for Me,' a Perlberg-Seaton Film -Progress on 'Strogoff' By THOMAS M. PRYOR New York Times 6 Apr 1958: 38.
- SEATON-PERLBERG A BUSY FILM TEAM: One Project Finished, One in Production, 2 in View -- Alastair Sim Sequel By HOWARD THOMPSON. New York Times 18 Mar 1961: 16.
- Big Career Looms or Bob Walker Jr.: Director George Seaton Has High Praise for Young Walker Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 13 July 1962: D11.
- LOCAL VIEWS: 'MERRILY': In Reverse By A.H. WEILER. New York Times 3 Nov 1963: X7.
- George Seaton, Film Writer, Dies: Won Academy Award in 1947 and 1955 Incomplete Source Cohen, Jerry. Los Angeles Times 29 July 1979: oc1.
- Producers Get the Action Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 27 May 1965: C8.
- Love in E Flat at the Internet Broadway Database
- Reed, Rex (10 July 1966). "A Nice Guy, Cast As a Movie Star". New York Times. p. 81.
- George Seaton Turns On Manhattan in New Comedy: Seaton Turns Manhattan On Wigle, Shari. Los Angeles Times 14 Apr 1968: n16.
- Movies: How Hunter and Seaton Tackled 'Airport' Task Brown, Vanessa. Los Angeles Times 6 Apr 1969: p20.
- Crash of 1929 Made B.H. Citizen Seaton Bullish on Film Industry Faris, Gerald. Los Angeles Times 8 Feb 1973: ws3.
- Hollywood film director George Seaton dies Chicago Tribune 29 July 1979: b19.
|Non-profit organization positions|
| President of Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences