Sam Wood

Samuel Grosvenor Wood (July 10, 1883 September 22, 1949) was an American film director and producer, who was best known for directing such Hollywood hits as A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, and The Pride of the Yankees. He was also involved in a few acting and writing projects.

Sam Wood
Samuel Grosvenor Wood

(1883-07-10)July 10, 1883
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
DiedSeptember 22, 1949(1949-09-22) (aged 66)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Other namesShad Applegate
OccupationFilm director, writer, producer, actor, real estate broker
Years active19171949
Clara L. Roush
(m. 1908)

Life and career

Wood was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,[1] and attended M. Hall Stanton School.[2]

After Wood lost what Hedda Hopper described as "a fortune" in real estate,[3] he began his career as an actor.[1] His billing depended on his role; as a leading man, he was billed as Sam Wood, but in villainous roles he was billed as Shad Applegate.[3] He worked for Cecil B. De Mille as an assistant in 1915. A solo director by 1919, Wood worked throughout the 1920s directing some of Paramount Pictures's biggest stars, among them Gloria Swanson and Wallace Reid.

He joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1927, where he spent most of his career.[4] While filming the Marx Brothers' A Day at the Races, Wood became exasperated by the brothers' lack of seriousness on the set and shouted, "You can't make an actor out of clay!" Groucho Marx immediately replied, "Nor a director out of Wood!"[5]

Wood directed Ginger Rogers through her Oscar-winning performance in Kitty Foyle (1940). He himself was nominated for Best Director, one of his three career nominations in the category.

Wood continued to have a large number of box office hits in his career, right up to and including his last film, the gritty Western Ambush (1950),[6] although he died before the film was released.

Political beliefs

Wood became increasingly and aggressively conservative. In 1943, he reduced much of the anti-fascist content of For Whom the Bell Tolls, saying "It would be the same love story if they were on the other side." In 1944, he founded and served as president of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals.[7] The organization quietly lobbied the House Un-American Activities Committee to examine Communist elements in the movie industry, which they did in 1947. Wood had been keeping a black notebook in which he wrote the names of those he considered subversive. His daughter Jeane Wood said that his crusade "transformed Dad into a snarling, unreasoning brute." Shortly following a 1949 meeting of his Motion Picture Alliance in which he had raged against a liberal screenwriter who was suing the group for slandering him, Wood suffered a fatal heart attack. He had added a condition to his will: No one, including his children, could collect their inheritance until they filed a legal affidavit affirming that they had never been Communists.[8]


Samuel Grosvenor Wood was born on July 10, 1883 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to William Henry Wood and Katherine (Corn) Wood. Wood was married to Clara Louise Roush on August 25, 1908 and until his death in 1949. One of Wood's daughters, born Gloria Wood, was film and television actress K.T. Stevens.[3] Another daughter was also an actress, Jeane Wood who married Joe Sawyer.


Wood died from a heart attack, in Hollywood, at the age of 66. His grave is located in Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Wood received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6714 Hollywood Boulevard on February 8, 1960.[9][10]


Wood is played by John Getz in Jay Roach's Trumbo.


Earlier films

With Academy Award nominations and wins in the table

Later films

Year Film Nominations Won Academy Awards & Nominations
1930 They Learned About Women
The Girl Said No
The Sins of the Children
Way for a Sailor
1931 A Tailor Made Man
The Man in Possession
New Adventures of Get Rich Quick Wallingford
1932 Huddle
1933 The Barbarian
Hold Your Man
Christopher Bean
1934 Stamboul Quest
1935 Let 'Em Have It
A Night at the Opera
1936 The Unguarded Hour
1937 A Day at the Races 1 0
Madame X
Navy Blue and Gold
1938 Lord Jeff
1939 Goodbye, Mr. Chips 7 1 Best Actor for Robert Donat
Nomination — Outstanding Production for Victor Saville
Nomination — Best Director
Nomination — Best Actress for Greer Garson
Gone with the Wind (replaced Victor Fleming for twenty-four days when Fleming temporary left the production due to exhaustion) 13 8 Outstanding Production for Selznick International Pictures
Best Director for Victor Fleming
Best Actress for Vivien Leigh
Best Adapted Screenplay for Sidney Howard
Best Supporting Actress for Hattie McDaniel
Best Cinematography, Color for Ernest Haller and Ray Rennahan
Best Film Editing for Hal C. Kern and James E. Newcom
Best Art Direction for Lyle R. Wheeler
Nomination - Best Actor for Clark Gable
Nomination — Best Supporting Actress for Olivia de Havilland
Nomination — Best Visual Effects for Jack Cosgrove, Fred Albin and Arthur Johns
Nomination — Best Music, Original Score for Max Steiner
Nomination — Best Sound Recording for Thomas T. Moulton (Samuel Goldwyn Studio Sound Department)
1940 Our Town 6 0 Nomination — Outstanding Production for Sol Lesser
Nomination — Best Actress for Martha Scott
Rangers of Fortune
Kitty Foyle 5 1 Best Actress for Ginger Rogers
Nomination — Outstanding Production for David Hempstead
Nomination — Best Director
1941 The Devil and Miss Jones 2 0 Nomination — Best Supporting Actor for Charles Coburn
1942 Kings Row 3 0 Nomination — Outstanding Motion Picture for Hal B. Wallis
Nomination — Best Director
The Pride of the Yankees 11 1 Nomination — Outstanding Motion Picture for Samuel Goldwyn
Nomination — Best Actor for Gary Cooper
Nomination — Best Actress for Teresa Wright
1943 For Whom the Bell Tolls 9 1 Best Supporting Actress for Katina Paxinou
Nomination — Outstanding Motion Picture
Nomination — Best Actor for Gary Cooper
Nomination — Best Actress for Ingrid Bergman
Nomination — Best Supporting Actor for Akim Tamiroff
1944 Casanova Brown 3 0 Nomination — Best Art Direction (Black-and-White) for Perry Ferguson and Julia Heron
Nomination — Best Music (Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture) Arthur Lange
Nomination — Best Sound Recording for Thomas T. Moulton
1945 Guest Wife 1 0 Nomination — Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture for Daniele Amfitheatrof
Saratoga Trunk 1 0 Nomination — Best Supporting Actress for Flora Robson
1946 Heartbeat
1947 Ivy
1948 Command Decision
1949 The Stratton Story 1 1 Best Writing, Motion Picture Story for Douglas Morrow
1950 Ambush


  1. "Biography for Sam Wood". Retrieved June 22, 2010.
  2. Trumbo, Dalton (June 1945). "Samuel Grosvenor Wood: A Footnote". The Screen Writer. Screen Writers' Guild, Inc. 1: 22–31. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  3. Hopper, Hedda (July 11, 1943). "Blue Chip Director -- But Regular Guy!". The Pittsburgh Press. Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh. p. 20. Retrieved October 18, 2019 via
  4. "Sam Wood Biography- Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide". Archived from the original on 2012-08-03. Retrieved June 20, 2010.
  5. "When Dick Cavett Shared Carnegie Hall With Groucho".
  6. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  7. Friedrich, Otto, City of Nets, Harper & Row, 1986, pg. 167-168
  8. Friedrich, Otto, City of Nets, Harper & Row, 1986, pg. 168
  9. "Sam Wood | Hollywood Walk of Fame". Retrieved 2016-07-11.
  10. "Sam Wood". Retrieved 2016-07-11.
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