George Sidney

George Sidney (October 4, 1916  May 5, 2002) was an American film director and film producer who worked primarily at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

George Sidney
George Sidney behind Spencer Tracy and Lana Turner on the set of Cass Timberlane (1947)
Born(1916-10-04)4 October 1916
Long Island City, New York, United States
Died5 May 2002(2002-05-05) (aged 85)
Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
OccupationFilm director, Film producer
Years active(1937-?)
Spouse(s)Lillian Burns (divorced)
Jane Robinson (1973–1991)
Corinne Cole (1991–2002)


Early life

Sidney was born to a Hungarian Jewish family[1] in Long Island City, New York. Both Sidney's parents were actors and Sidney began acting as a child on stage and in silent films. He worked as a musician.[2]

Director of Shorts at MGM

Sidney's father got a job as an executive at Loew's Inc. Sidney got a job at MGM as a messenger and worked his way up to office boy. He moved into directing screen tests and second unit as well as taking stills.

Sidney was assigned to direct the Our Gang comedies, which MGM had just acquired from Hal Roach, in 1938. Sidney, then age 21, was the youngest Our Gang senior director the series would have, and was only nine years older than the eldest Our Gang kid, Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer's brother Harold Switzer.

After a year of working on Our Gang shorts, Sidney moved on to the Crime Does Not Pay series and popular Pete Smith specialties.

Early Features

Sidney graduated to directing features with Free and Easy (1941). He followed it with Pacific Rendezvous (1942) and Pilot No. 5 (1942). He then worked his way into directing large scale musicals such as The Harvey Girls (1946), The Three Musketeers (1948), Annie Get Your Gun (1950), and Kiss Me Kate (1953).


Sidney left MGM to make The Eddy Duchin Story (1956) at Columbia Pictures where he made his base for the next decade for such films as Jeanne Eagels (1957), Pal Joey (1957), Who Was That Lady? (1960), Pepe (1960), and Bye Bye Birdie (1963).

He would return to MGM to film A Ticklish Affair (1963) and Elvis Presley's Viva Las Vegas (1964). His last film was Half a Sixpence (1967).


Sidney became good friends with MGM animation directors William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Hanna and Barbera's Jerry Mouse appeared alongside Gene Kelly in Sidney's film Anchors Aweigh (1945). After MGM closed its animation studio in 1957, Sidney helped Hanna and Barbera form a deal with Screen Gems, the television division of Columbia Pictures, to form the successful television animation studio Hanna-Barbera Productions, and was a shareholder in the company. Sidney later featured Hanna-Barbera's Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble, Huckleberry Hound, and Yogi Bear in Bye Bye Birdie (1963).

In 1961, Sidney appeared as himself, along with the canine Lassie, in the episode "The Stones Go To Hollywood" of the ABC sitcom, The Donna Reed Show. The episode plugged Sidney's then current feature film, Pepe, in which Donna Reed makes a cameo appearance.


Sidney was nominated for the Directors Guild of America Award four times, starting with the lush Technicolor remake of Show Boat. In 1958 he was presented with a Golden Globe Award for Best World Entertainment through Musical Films. For his work in the art of cinema, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 1966, Variety listed Sidney as the director with the most films earning rentals of $4,000,000 or more in the United States and Canada with 12 films on the list with a total rental of $57.25 million. Based on the rentals listed for other directors, his ranking was fourth based on total rentals. His top performing films were Bye Bye Birdie, The Eddy Duchin Story, Show Boat, Pepe, Pal Joey, Viva Las Vegas, Annie Get Your Gun, Anchors Aweigh, The Harvey Girls, The Three Musketeers, Cass Timberlane, and Holiday in Mexico.[3] He was ranked second 11 years later.[4]

Personal life

He was married three times: first to Lillian Burns (divorced), then to Jane Robinson (1973–1991), and finally to Corinne Cole (1991–2002), until his death from complications of lymphoma in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the age of 85.

Awards and nominations

1952Directors Guild of AmericaOutstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion PicturesShow BoatNominated
1953Directors Guild of AmericaOutstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion PicturesScaramoucheNominated
1954Directors Guild of AmericaOutstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion PicturesYoung BessNominated
1957Directors Guild of AmericaOutstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion PicturesThe Eddy Duchin StoryNominated
1959Directors Guild of AmericaDGA Honorary Life Member Award
1986Directors Guild of AmericaRobert B. Aldrich Achievement Award
1998Directors Guild of AmericaPresident's Award
1995Golden Apple AwardLouella Parsons Award
1958Golden Globe AwardBest World Entertainment Through Musical Films
1993San Luis Obispo International Film FestivalKing Vidor Memorial Award

Partial filmography

Further reading

  • Monder, Eric (1994). George Sidney:a Bio-Bibliography. Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313284571.


  1. Cones, John. Motion Picture Biographies: The Hollywood Spin on Historical Figures. p. 62. ISBN 9781628941166.
  2. Davis p 60-62
  3. "Star, Producer, Director Identification with All-Time Top-Grossing Features". Variety. January 5, 1966. p. 3.
  4. "Stevenson preps his 20th Disney film in 21 years". Daily Variety. July 14, 1977. p. 1.
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