John M. Stahl

John Malcolm Stahl (January 21, 1886 – January 12, 1950) was an American film director and producer.

John M. Stahl
Still from the Sowing the Wind with film producers William Nicholas Selig and Louis B. Mayer and director John M. Stahl examine the film from one "take"
Jacob Morris Strelitsky

January 21, 1886
Baku, Azerbaijan
DiedJanuary 12, 1950(1950-01-12) (aged 63)
OccupationFilm director and producer

Life and work

He was born Jacob Morris Strelitsky in Baku (Azerbaijan) to an eastern European Jewish family.[1][2] When he was a child, his family left the Russian Empire and moved to the United States, settling in New York City. At a young age he took the name John Malcolm Stahl and began working, first as a theatre actor and then in the city's growing motion picture industry . He directed his first silent film short in 1913.

In 1919 he signed on with Louis B. Mayer Pictures in Hollywood. In 1924 he was part of the Mayer team that founded MGM Studios. In 1927, Stahl was one of the thirty-six founding members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. With the industry's transition to talkies and feature-length films, Stahl successfully made the adjustment. From 1927 through 1929 Stahl was an executive at the short-lived independent studio Tiffany Pictures, and renamed the company "Tiffany-Stahl Productions".

In 1930 he joined Universal Pictures where he directed in 1934 the film Imitation of Life, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. The following year, he directed Magnificent Obsession, starring Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor. Both films were later remade in the 1950s by director Douglas Sirk.

John Stahl continued to produce and direct major productions as well as filler shorts up to the time of his death. Some of his other notable directorial work was for The Keys of the Kingdom in 1944 and the 1945 film noir, Leave Her to Heaven starring Gene Tierney, who was nominated for Best Actress.

Stahl died in Hollywood in 1950. He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

He was married to actress and writer Frances Irene Reels from 1918 to her death in 1926, and to actress Roxana McGowan from 1931 to his death.

On February 8, 1960, for his contributions to the motion pictures industry, Stahl received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6546 Hollywood Boulevard.[3][4]

Full filmography (as director)

(It was filmed in 1919 as Greater Than Love but released in 1921 under a different title)


  1. "Actualité de la cinephilie. Le mélodrame strict de John M. Stahl. Saint-Sébastien rend hommage à un maître oublié". Libération. Retrieved 2013-08-13.
  2. Erens, Patricia (August 1988). The Jew in American Cinema. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-20493-6.
  3. "John M. Stahl | Hollywood Walk of Fame". Retrieved 2016-06-28.
  4. "John Stahl". Retrieved 2016-06-28.
  • Charles Barr, Bruce Babington (2018). The Call of the Heart: John M Stahl and Hollywood Melodrama. John Libbey. ISBN 978-0-86196-736-0.
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