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Born in New York City in 1899, George Cukor was the son of Hungarian immigrants. Interestingly, the famous Hollywood director’s first job was right here in Lincoln Center as a supernumerary at the Metropolitan Opera. After working for and directing stage plays, Cukor jumped at the opportunity to direct films after the advent of sound in the late 1920’s. His directorial debut came in 1931 with Tarnished Lady, starring Tallulah Bankhead. After directing his first several films with Paramount Pictures, Cukor left to work with childhood friend and legendary producer, David O. Selznick. This relationship is most remember now for Selznick’s firing of Cukor in the early stages of Gone with the Wind, but the two were able to produce several noteworthy films before then, including 1933’s Dinner at Eight, starring Marie Dressler and John Barrymore. Despite not being able to direct Gone with the Wind, Cukor adapted many other noteworthy novels for the screen, such as Little Women, for which he received hist first Academy Award nomination, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Cukor had no reason to regret not finishing the classic adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s novel for Selznick. With a career spanning over fifty years, Cukor’s longevity allowed him to produce several cinematic treasures such as The Philadelphia Story, the classic romantic comedy, released in 1940. A decade later, he directed the legendary musical, A Star is Born. Another fourteen years later in 1964, he directed Audrey Hepburn in one of her most iconic roles as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, for which Cukor received his first Oscar after four previous nominations. One of the most renowned directors of classical Hollywood cinema, George Cukor passed away in Los Angeles in 1983.