Classic Film Club


Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck



Darryl Zanuck was born Darryl Francis Zanuck in Wahoo, Nebraska, in 1902, the son of a hotelier.   At six, he and his mother moved to Los Angeles in the hope that the climate would improve her poor health.   At eight, he began working on movie sets as an extra, but his father called him back to Nebraska.   In 1917, he lied about his age and joined the United States Army, serving with the Nebraska National Guard in France during World War I.   After his discharge, he worked several part-time jobs while trying to find work as a writer.

He managed to find work writing movie plots, selling his first stories in 1922 to Universal.   He then worked for FBO for 2 years and took that experience to Warner Brothers where he wrote over forty scripts from 1924 to 1929.   He also began producing in 1926 and became head of production in 1931.

In 1933, Zanuck left Warner Bros. to found the production company 20th Century Pictures with Joseph Schenck and William Goetz.   In 1935, they bought out Fox Film Studios to become Twentieth Century-Fox.   Zanuck was vice-president of this new studio and took a hands-on approach, becoming closely involved even in the editing process.

In the 1950s, he left the studio to concentrate on independent producing in Europe.   He returned to control of Twentieth Century-Fox in 1962 as the studio struggled to finish the over-budget epic Cleopatra (1963).   He made his son, Richard D. Zanuck, head of production.

Zanuck became involved in a power struggle with the board and his son beginning in 1969 and, in 1971, was finally forced out after a string of expensive flops for the studio.

He married the actress Virginia Fox in 1924.   They raised three children and were separated in 1956.   He is the grandfather of producers Harrison Zanuck and Dean Zanuck.

Zanuck died of pneumonia in 1979, in Palm Springs, California. He was 77 years old.

Other Pictures

Darryl F. Zanuck (1945)
  • (Darryl F. Zanuck, 1945)



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