Jack Conway (filmmaker)

Jack Ryan Conway (July 17, 1887 – October 11, 1952) was an American film director and film producer, as well as an actor of many films in the first half of the 20th century.

Jack Conway
Jack Conway in 1937
Hugh Ryan Conway

(1887-07-17)July 17, 1887
DiedOctober 11, 1952(1952-10-11) (aged 65)
  • Actor
  • director
  • producer
Years active1909–1948
Spouse(s)Viola Barry (1911–1918) (divorced) 2 children
Virginia Bushman (1926–1952) (his death) 2 children


Early life

He was born as Hugh Ryan Conway, on July 17, 1887, in Graceville, Minnesota, US.


Conway started out as an actor, joining a repertory theater group straight out of high school. He then moved into films and, in 1911, became a member of D.W. Griffith's stock company, appearing primarily in westerns. Four years later, he made his mark as a director and gained valuable experience at Universal (1916–17 and 1921–23), before moving on to MGM in 1925. He remained there until 1948, often helming prestige assignments featuring the studio's top male star, Clark Gable: Boom Town (1940), Honky Tonk (1941), The Hucksters (1947) – all solid box office hits.

Conway was one of a team of MGM contract directors, who forsook any pretense to a specific individual style in favor of working within the strictures set forth by studio management. A thoroughly competent craftsman, he delivered commercially successful entertainments, on time, and within budget. Conway may not have achieved fame as a creative genius, but the majority of his films remain eminently entertaining to this day.

In his most famous film, A Tale of Two Cities (1935), he utilized 17,000 extras for the Paris mob scenes alone. This spectacular adaptation of the Dickens classic is still regarded by many as the definitive screen version. Another popular hit was the sophisticated all-star comedy Libeled Lady (1936), with the New York Times reviewer commenting on Conway's "agile direction". Conway also directed Viva Villa!, a hit MGM film starring Wallace Beery that was nominated for four Academy Awards.

Private life

His first marriage was to silent film actress Viola Barry. Together, they had two children, including a daughter, the writer Rosemary Conway. His second marriage was to Virginia Bushman, daughter of silent screen star Francis X. Bushman. They had two children, as well, including the actor Pat Conway. They resided in Pacific Palisades, California, in a house designed by architect Allen Siple (1900–1973).[1] A street in Pacific Palisades, Jacon Way, is named for Conway. He retired from films in 1948 and died four years later at his home from pulmonary disease.[2]





  • The Girl from Missouri (1934)
  • Hell Below (1933)
  • Just a Gigolo (1931)
  • Our Modern Maidens (1929)


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