Tay Garnett

William Taylor "Tay" Garnett (June 13, 1894 – October 3, 1977) was an American film director and writer.

Tay Garnett
William Taylor Garnett

(1894-06-13)June 13, 1894
DiedOctober 3, 1977(1977-10-03) (aged 83)
Sawtell, California, U.S.
OccupationFilm director, writer
Years active1920–1975
Patsy Ruth Miller (m. 19291933)

Helga Moray (m. 19341942)
(1 child)
Mari Aldon (m. 1953)
(1 child)
ChildrenWilliam John ("Bill") Garnett (b. 1942)
Tiela Aldon Garnett (b. 1955)


Early life

Born in Los Angeles, California, Garnett attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served as a naval aviator in World War I.[1]

Mack Sennett

He entered the film industry as a screenwriter in 1920, writing for Mack Sennett. His credits included The Quack Doctor (1920).

He wrote the feature Broken Chains (1922) for Sam Goldwyn and The Hottentot (1920) for Thomas Ince.

Comedy shorts

Garnett went to work for Hal Roach for whom he wrote Don't Park There (1924). He did some with Stan Laurel: A Mandarin Mixup (1924), and Detained (1924).

He wrote Galloping Bungalows (1924) for Billy Bevan and Mac Sennett, Off His Trolley (1924) for Sennett, West of Hot Dog (1924) with Laurel and Hardy, and The Plumber (1924) for Sennett.

Garnett directed some shorts, such as Fast Black (1924), Riders of the Kitchen Range (1925), and All Wool (1925).

He wrote the comedy shorts Honeymoon Hardships (1925), Somewhere in Wrong (1925) with Laurel, Twins (1925) with Laurel, Pie-Eyed (1925) with Laurel, The Snow Hawk (1925) with Laurel, Navy Blue Days (1925) with Laurel, Hold Tight (1925), The Sleuth (1925) with Laurel, Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde (1925) with Laurel, No Sleep on the Deep (1925), Three Wise Goofs, Salute (1925), On the Links (1925), Who's Your Friend (1925), The Funnymooners (1926), Puppy Lovetime (1926), Smith's Visitor (1926) and A Beauty Parlor (1926).

Screenwriting features

Garnett wrote the feature That's My Baby (1926) for William Beaudine at Paramount; Up in Mabel's Room (1926), adapting a stage farce, with Marie Provost; The Strong Man (1926), starring Harry Langdon and directed by Frank Capra, his first feature as director; and There You Are! (1926), with Conrad Nagel.

Garnett wrote two films produced by Cecil B. De Mille: The Cruise of the Jasper B (1926), and Rubber Tires (1927).

He adapted another stage farce with Marie Provost, Getting Gertie's Garter (1927), and also wrote White Gold (1927), Long Pants (1927) for Capra and Langdon, No Control (1927), The Wise Wife (1927).

He did two for De Mille, Turkish Delight (1927) and Skyscraper (1928), and two starring William Boyd, The Cop (1928), and Power (1928).[2]

He joined Pathé.


Garnett's first feature as director was Celebrity (1928), which he also co wrote.[3]

He directed and wrote The Spellbinker (1928), The Flying Fool (1929) with William Boyd, No Brakes (1929), and Her Man (1930) with Helen Twelvetrees. He just directed Officer O'Brien (1930).

Pathe merged into RKO and Garnett went there. He wrote and directed Bad Company (1931) with Twelvetrees, and Prestige (1931), and just directed Panama Flo (1932) with Twelvetrees.


He went to Universal to make The Penalty of Fame (1932). Garnett had a big success at Warner Bros with One Way Passage (1932).[4]

At Universal he did Destination Unknown (1933), and the English version of S.O.S. Iceberg (1933).

Garnett went to MGM where he had a huge success with China Seas (1935). He did She Couldn't Take It (1935) at Columbia.

In 1935 he announced his own production company. He took off around the world on a cruise to shoot footage for it.[5] He returned in October 1936.[6][7]

20th Century Fox

Garnett signed with Fox where he made Professional Soldier (1936), Love Is News (1937), and Slave Ship (1937). He did Stand-In (1937) for Walter Wagner.[8]


Garnet turned producer as well as director with Joy of Living (1938) at RKO. He produced and directed then three films of Wanger: Trade Winds (1938) (based on his story), Eternally Yours (1939), and Slightly Honorable (1939). He provided a story for Cafe Hostess (1940), at Columbia.[9]

At Universal he directed Seven Sinners (1940) with Marlene Dietrich and John Wayne.

He produced but did not direct two films at RKO, Unexpected Uncle (1941) and Weekend for Three (1941).

He directed Cheers for Miss Bishop (1941) at UA, My Favorite Spy (1942) at RKO, and The Boy from Stalingrad (1942) at Columbia.

He created the program Three Sheets to the Wind (1942), which starred John Wayne as Dan O'Brien, an American private eye posing as a drunk on a luxury liner sailing from England in 1939, and Helga Moray.


Garnett went to MGM where he directed The Cross of Lorraine (1943), and Bataan (1943). He did some second unit directing on Since You Went Away (1944) and uncredited directing on See Here, Private Hargrove (1944).

Garnett had some big hits with two Greer Garson films, Mrs. Parkington (1944), The Valley of Decision (1945), then made The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), starring John Garfield and Lana Turner, which is probably his best known film.

Paramount and Howard Hughes

Garnett went to Paramount where he made Wild Harvest (1947), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949), starring Bing Crosby and Rhonda Fleming.[10]

He wrote and directed a Mickey Rooney film, The Fireball (1950), based on his story. He went back to MGM to direct one of Loretta Young's last theatrical films, Cause for Alarm!, in 1951, and the adventure film Soldiers Three (1951).[11]

Garnett went to RKO, then under the ownership of Howard Hughes to do some directing on The Racket (1951) and One Minute to Zero (1952).

He began working in TV with Four Star Theatre and made Main Street to Broadway (1953).


Garnett travelled to England to make The Black Knight (1954) with Alan Ladd. He worked on the hugely popular documentary Seven Wonders of the World (1956).


Garnett returned to the US and worked increasingly on television, directing such shows as Screen Directors Playhouse (for which he also provided some stories), Alcoa Theatre, Goodyear Theatre, The Loretta Young Show, The Untouchables, and Overland Trail.

He directed a feature in Ireland, A Terrible Beauty (1960), with Robert Mitchum, then went back to TV: Wagon Train, Riverboat, The New Loretta Young Show, Frontier Circus, Laramie, Naked City, The Deputy, Whispering Smith, 87th Precinct, The Tall Man, Rawhide, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, Death Valley Days, The Beachcomber, Bonanza, The Loner, The Legend of Jesse James, and Gunsmoke.[12]

He directed a feature, Guns of Wyoming (1963), with Robert Taylor. He also did some government films.[13]

Later career

Garnett wrote, produced and directed The Delta Factor (1970). His last two films were Challenge to Be Free (1975) and Timber Tramps (1975).[14][15]

Private life

Garnett married three famous actresses. First was Patsy Ruth Miller in Los Angeles on 8 September 1929. She filed for divorce which was granted 18 September 1933 on grounds of desertion while she was in Vienna, Austria and Garnett in London, England. While in London, Garnett met South African author Helga Moray whom he married on his yacht in November 1934. They had a second ceremony on 31 March 1935 in Yuma, Arizona to safeguard her American citizenship. Six months after their son, William John ("Bill") Garnett was born, Moray filed for divorce on grounds of cruelty in 1942. Garnett then married Mari Aldon in London, England on 13 August 1953. Their daughter Tiela Aldon Garnett was born in Los Angeles, California on 25 October 1955.


He died of leukemia at the Wadsworth Veterans Administration Hospital in Sawtelle, California, at the age of 83.[16] He was survived by his son with Helga Moray, William John Garnett and his daughter with Mari Aldon, Tiela Aldon Garnett. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.





  • Garnett, Tay; Balling, Fredda Dudley (1979). Light Your Torches and Pull Up Your Tights. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House. OCLC 982192929.
  • Garnett, Tay; Slide, Anthony (1996). Directing: Learn from the Masters. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810830462. OCLC 925180539.


  1. Tay Garnett, Film Director for Half Century, Dies: Made 'A Connecticut Yankee' By RICHARD F. SHEPARD. New York Times 19 Oct 1977: B2.
  2. 'Skyscraper' at the Silent Movie Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times 10 Oct 1979: g11.
  3. WRITER IS CHOSEN DIRECTOR: De Mille Appoints Tay Garnett to Handle "Celebrity;" Kingsley, Grace. Los Angeles Times 16 May 1928: A10.
  4. MAN-HUNT TALE REAL THRILLER Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 17 Aug 1932: 7.
  5. Tay Garnett's Yawl Sails on World Cruise Los Angeles Times 25 Nov 1935: A1.
  6. FILM DIRECTOR RETURNS: FILM TROUPE BACK FROM TRIP Tay Garnett Brings Much Background Film Los Angeles Times 13 Oct 1936: A1.
  7. NEW SCREEN UNIT FORMED: Tay Garnett, Director, Plans Production of Features in Orient Settings Los Angeles Times 3 Sep 1935: A3
  8. Toy Garnett, a Noble Film Pioneer Higham, Charles. Los Angeles Times 16 Oct 1977: t42.
  9. MR. GARNETT SEES THE WORLD New York Times 1 May 1938: 154.
  10. LIBERTY FILMS BUY NOVEL BY BELDEN: George Stevens Will Produce 'Give Us This Night,' Story of Australian War Bride Of Local Origin Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 13 June 1946: 24.
  11. Drama: 'African Queen' Bought by Horizon; Tay Garnett Directs Loretta Young Los Angeles Times 31 Mar 1950: 23.
  12. Director Tay Garnett Finds Lessons in TV Ryon, Art. Los Angeles Times 18 Nov 1962: L16.
  13. Tay Garnett Slates Story Conference Los Angeles Times 4 July 1963: D9
  14. Film Director and Writer Tay Garnett Dies at 83 Jones, Jack. Los Angeles Times 5 Oct 1977: a3.
  15. MOVIE CALL SHEET: Spillane Film for Yvette Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 4 June 1969: d16.
  16. Jones, Jack (October 6, 1977). "Film Director and Writer Tay Garnett Dies At 83". The Los Angeles Times. p. 35. Retrieved December 30, 2018 via Newspapers.com.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.