Robert Z. Leonard

BirthDay:

07 Oct 1889

BirthPlace:

Chicago, Illinois, USA

BirthName:

Robert Zigler Leonard

Bio:

Chicago-born Robert Z. Leonard studied law at the University of Colorado, but the legal profession proved not to be his forte and he dropped out in favor of a career in the theatre. When his family moved to Hollywood in 1907 Leonard sought work in the fledgling film industry, starting as an actor with Selig Polyscope. Though he became an established star by 1916, his chief interest lay on the other side of the camera. Turning to directing from 1913, he helmed a brace of short comedy features and got his break when he was assigned a serial, The Master Key (1914), in 1914. From 1915-19 he was under contract at Universal, where he became chiefly associated with the films of his future wife, the ex-Ziegfeld Follies star Mae Murray. In 1919 Leonard and Murray founded Tiffany Productions, specifically as a means of creating suitable star vehicles for her. While the company lingered on as Tiffany-Stahl on the Talisman lot--one of the "Poverty Row" studios turning out cheap westerns and even cheaper "Chimp Comedies"' (yes, the stars were chimps and a lot cheaper to maintain than humans!)--Leonard and Murray moved on to join the newly-established Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1924.

Leonard's union with the volatile Murray ended in divorce in 1925. After clashing with MGM chief Louis B. Mayer, Murray left the studio two years later. Leonard married another actress, Gertrude Olmstead, and went on to become one of the studio's most reliable contract directors for the next three decades. Fitting in perfectly with the studio system, he was part of a highly efficient team of top craftsmen under the auspices of producer Hunt Stromberg, turning out scores of musicals and light comedies. Though not generally regarded by film critics as among the top echelon of Hollywood directors, Leonard nevertheless capably handled a variety of A-grade pictures, often starring temperamental personalities. Among his most successful hits for MGM were the backstage musical Dancing Lady (1933); the opulent multi Oscar-winning musical biopic The Great Ziegfeld (1936) (completed on a budget of $2 million); all but two of the popular cycle of Nelson Eddy-Jeanette MacDonald operettas; and the stylish, witty Pride and Prejudice (1940), an adaptation of the famed Jane Austen novel, a production that typified the most lavish of MGM's post-Thalberg costume dramas. It was scripted by no less than Aldous Huxley and starred Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson.

While many of his films may be dismissed for lacking artistic merit, the plain truth is that few lost money. Leonard gave the public what it wanted: he excelled at providing escapist entertainment, particularly with glossy, all-star extravaganzas like Ziegfeld Girl (1941) or Week-End at the Waldorf (1945). It was ironic, that, in 1949, he made a rare and unsuccessful foray into the genre of film noir with The Bribe (1949), an endeavor equally untypical of its studio. Starring Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner (at her most ravishing) and Vincent Price as a war surplus racketeer, the picture bombed at the box office. Producer Pandro S. Berman subsequently lamented it as "a heap of junk" that should "never have been made", but in retrospect "The Bribe" is not at all bad. In fact, it has gained something of a cult following over the years. Scenes from it were conspicuously used by Steve Martin for his excellent montage comedy Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982).

Leonard left MGM on the studio retirement plan in 1955. He then had a brief sojourn in Italy, where he directed Gina Lollobrigida in Beautiful But Dangerous (1955) before finally making his swan song at Universal with a less-than-memorable family film, Kelly and Me (1957). With his wife Gertrude, Leonard resided in Beverly Hills until his death in August 1968.
Filmography

Actor ( 125 credits )

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in Hollywood (1945) Robert Z. Leonard (uncredited)
The Firefly (1937) Café Patron (uncredited)
Show People (1928) Himself (uncredited)
Married Flirts (1924) Himself, Guest at party
Screen Snapshots, Series 4, No. 8 (1923) Himself
Screen Snapshots, Series 3, No. 14 (1922) Himself (as Robert Leonard)
Screen Snapshots, Series 2, No. 9-F (1921) Himself
The Punishment (1917) Big Bill
Please Be My Wife (1917) Robert (as Robert Leonard)
Racing Death (1917)
The Human Flame (1917)
The Sin Unatoned (1917) Bob
Robinson Crusoe (1917)
Life's Pendulum (1917) Bob
The Diamond Thieves (1917) Westerly
The Unfinished Case (1916)
The Silent Man of Timber Gulch (1916) The Silent Man of Timber Gulch
The Crippled Hand (1916) The Rich Man (as Robert Leonard)
The Winning of Miss Construe (1916) Bob - the Artist
Yust from Sweden (1916) Karl Jensen
The Silent Member (1916) The Silent Member
The Boob's Victory (1916) The Boob
Christmas Memories (1915) Robert Harding
Idols of Clay (1915) The Lonesome Man
The Little Blonde in Black (1915) Bob Hemway - a Clubman
Heritage (1915) Big Bill McMahon (as Robert Leonard)
Betty's Dream Hero (1915) Bob - Betty's Dream Hero
A Boob's Romance (1915) The Boob
The Silent Command (1915) The Father (as Robert Leonard)
Shattered Memories (1915) Jasper Wells
Mavis of the Glen (1915) Robert Graham
His Uncle's Will (1914) Arthur Stephens
The Master Key (1914) John Dore
The Wall Between (1914) Mr. Smith
The Decision (1914) The Young Broker
Olaf Erickson, Boss (1914) Olaf Erickson
The Boob's Legacy (1914) The Boob
The Little Sister (1914) The Detective
The Mistress of Deadwood Basin (1914) Sanderson
The Boob's Nemesis (1914) The Foolish Farmhand
For the Secret Service (1914) Carlton - the Inventor
The Bowl of Roses (1914)
The Hedge Between (1914) Bob
The Symphony of Souls (1914) Earl Dean
An Awkward Cinderella (1914) Bob - the College Boy
At the Foot of the Stairs (1914) The Betrayed Husband
Out of the Darkness (1914) The Thief
The Great Universal Mystery (1914) Himself
When Fate Disposes (1914) Bob
The House Discordant (1914) John Brunton - the Father
The Sherlock Boob (1914) The Sherlock Boob
A Law Unto Himself (1914) Detective Bob Steele
The Awakening (1914) The Fisherman
Swede Larson (1914) Swede Larson
Shadowed Lives (1914) Robert / Jim (dual role)
The Fox (1914) John Stedman
A Boob There Was (1914) The Boob
Aurora of the North (1914) The Stranger
A Man, a Girl and Another Man (1914) The Miner
Mountain Law (1914) Bob Hawkins
A Boob Incognito (1914) Allen
The Ruby Circle (1914) Robert Carlton
In the Eye of the Law (1914) Robert Carleton - Amateur Detective
The Senator's Bill (1914) Senator Ludlowe
The House Across the Street (1914) Mayor Walton
For the Family Honor (1914) Bob
The Boob's Honeymoon (1914) Bill Simpkins
A Race with Death (1914) The Automobile Mechanic
The Fourth Proposal (1914) Robert
From Father to Son (1914) Corbin Jr.
The Mud Bath Elopement (1914) Bob Hart
Michael Arnold and Doctor Lynn (1914) Michael Arnold
The Cycle of Adversity (1914) Robert Cummings
An Arrowhead Romance (1914) Bob - the Hotel Guide
His Faithful Servant (1913) The Woodcuter
The Dream (1913) The Drunkard
By Fate's Decree (1913) The Yeggman
The Boob's Dream Girl (1913) Bob Hicks - the Boob
A Tale of the Lonely Coast (1913) Ben
His Old-Fashioned Dad (1913) Bob
The Missionary Box (1913) Rev. Robert Marsh
The Primeval Test (1913) Bob Stannard
The Thumb Print (1913) Clayton
Like Darby and Joan (1913) The Old Fisherman
Shon the Piper (1913) Shon the Piper
Paying the Price (1913) Robert Marsden, Attorney
The Fight Against Evil (1913) Dr. Lawson
The Diamond Makers (1913) Detective Felix Westerly
The Evil Power (1913) Dr. Kaishian (as Robert Leonard)
A Woman's Stratagem (1913) Bob Asquith (as Robert Leonard)
The Sea Urchin (1913) The Stranger
Sally Scraggs: Housemaid (1913) Frank Norcross
When the Prince Arrived (1913) John Dalton - the Acrobat
The Power of Heredity (1913) The Butler
Robinson Crusoe (1913) Robinson Crusoe
A Wrong Road (1913) Bob
A Woman's Folly (1913) Doctor Denton
Draga, the Gypsy (1913) Jack Harlow
The Stolen Idol (1913) Professor Westerly
The Shadow (1913)
The World at Large (1913) The Husband (unconfirmed)
The Boob (1913) Bill Harkins
In Slavery Days (1913) Robert Thornton
The Turn of the Tide (1913) Jack - the Sailor
The Wayward Sister (1913) Jim Hollis
A Friend of the Family (1913) Bob - a Lifeguardsman
The Great Ganton Mystery (1913) Prof. Felix Westerly - the Detective
The Old Folks' Christmas (1912) Mr. Bradley (unconfirmed)
The Hand of Mystery (1912) Bassett
Over the Hills (1911)
The Rose's Story (1911) Undetermined Role
The Brothers (1911) Father Curran
The Piece of String (1911) The Village Blacksmith
The Novice (1911) Pedro
The Still Alarm (1911) Jock Manley
The Scarlet Letter (1911) Undetermined Role
The Code of Honor (1911)
The Padre (1911) The Foundling
The Common Enemy (1910)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) Scarecrow
The Roman (1910)
The Courtship of Miles Standish (1910)
The Christian Martyrs (1909)
In the Sultan's Power (1909)
Damon and Pythias (1908)

Producer ( 45 credits )

Week-End at the Waldorf (1945) producer (uncredited)
The Man from Down Under (1943) producer
Stand by for Action (1942) producer
We Were Dancing (1942) producer
When Ladies Meet (1941) producer
Third Finger, Left Hand (1940) producer (uncredited)
New Moon (1940) producer
Broadway Serenade (1939) producer
The Girl of the Golden West (1938) producer (uncredited)
The Firefly (1937) producer (uncredited)
Maytime (1937) producer
Piccadilly Jim (1936) producer
Escapade (1935) producer
After Office Hours (1935) producer
Outcast Lady (1934) producer (uncredited)
Peg o' My Heart (1933) producer
Strange Interlude (1932) producer (uncredited)
Lovers Courageous (1932) producer (uncredited)
Susan Lenox (1931) producer
Five and Ten (1931) producer (uncredited)
It's a Wise Child (1931) producer
The Bachelor Father (1931) producer
Let Us Be Gay (1930) producer (uncredited)
In Gay Madrid (1930) producer (uncredited)
The Divorcee (1930) producer
Peacock Alley (1930) producer
Marianne (1929) producer (uncredited)
A Lady of Chance (1928) producer (uncredited)
Baby Mine (1928) producer
Tea for Three (1927) producer
The Demi-Bride (1927) producer
A Little Journey (1927) producer
Dance Madness (1926) producer
Bright Lights (1925) producer
Time, the Comedian (1925) producer
Mademoiselle Midnight (1924) producer
Fashion Row (1923) producer
The French Doll (1923) producer
Jazzmania (1923) producer
Fascination (1922) producer
Peacock Alley (1922) producer
The Gilded Lily (1921) producer
The Silent Man of Timber Gulch (1916) producer
Christmas Memories (1915) producer
Judge Not; or The Woman of Mona Diggings (1915) producer (as Robert Leonard)

Writer ( 27 credits )

Danger, Go Slow (1918) (writer)
Modern Love (1918) (story) (as Robert Leonard)
Face Value (1917) (story)
Please Be My Wife (1917) (scenario) (as Robert Leonard)
Little Eve Edgarton (1916) (scenario) (as Robert Leonard)
The Love Girl (1916) (scenario)
The Silent Man of Timber Gulch (1916) (scenario)
The Woman Who Followed Me (1916) (scenario)
The Crippled Hand (1916)
The Winning of Miss Construe (1916) (scenario)
Yust from Sweden (1916) (scenario)
Secret Love (1916) (scenario)
The Silent Member (1916) (scenario)
The Boob's Victory (1916) (scenario)
Christmas Memories (1915) (scenario)
Idols of Clay (1915) (scenario)
Judge Not; or The Woman of Mona Diggings (1915)
The Little Blonde in Black (1915) (scenario)
Heritage (1915) (story) (as Robert Leonard)
A Boob's Romance (1915) (scenario)
The Silent Command (1915) (as Robert Leonard)
The Master Key (1914) (screenplay)
The Wall Between (1914) (scenario)
The House Discordant (1914) (scenario)
The Senator's Bill (1914) (scenario)
For the Family Honor (1914) (scenario)
From Father to Son (1914) (scenario)

Director ( 162 credits )

Kelly and Me (1957)
Beautiful But Dangerous (1955)
The King's Thief (1955)
Her Twelve Men (1954)
The Great Diamond Robbery (1954)
The Clown (1953)
Everything I Have Is Yours (1952)
Too Young to Kiss (1951)
Grounds for Marriage (1951)
Duchess of Idaho (1950)
Nancy Goes to Rio (1950)
In the Good Old Summertime (1949)
The Bribe (1949)
B.F.'s Daughter (1948)
Cynthia (1947)
The Secret Heart (1946)
Week-End at the Waldorf (1945)
Marriage Is a Private Affair (1944)
The Man from Down Under (1943)
Stand by for Action (1942)
We Were Dancing (1942)
When Ladies Meet (1941)
Ziegfeld Girl (1941)
Third Finger, Left Hand (1940)
Pride and Prejudice (1940)
New Moon (1940)
Broadway Serenade (1939)
Sweethearts (1938) (fill-in director) (uncredited)
The Girl of the Golden West (1938)
The Firefly (1937)
Maytime (1937)
Piccadilly Jim (1936)
Small Town Girl (1936) (uncredited)
The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
A Tale of Two Cities (1935) (fill-in director) (uncredited)
Escapade (1935)
Naughty Marietta (1935) (uncredited)
After Office Hours (1935)
Outcast Lady (1934)
Dancing Lady (1933)
When Ladies Meet (1933) (retakes) (uncredited)
Peg o' My Heart (1933) (uncredited)
The Son-Daughter (1932) (uncredited)
Strange Interlude (1932) (uncredited)
Lovers Courageous (1932) (uncredited)
Susan Lenox (1931) (uncredited)
Five and Ten (1931) (uncredited)
It's a Wise Child (1931)
The Bachelor Father (1931) (uncredited)
Let Us Be Gay (1930) (uncredited)
In Gay Madrid (1930) (uncredited)
The Divorcee (1930) (uncredited)
Marianne (1929)
Marianne (1929)
A Lady of Chance (1928)
The Cardboard Lover (1928)
Baby Mine (1928)
The Five O'Clock Girl (1928)
Tea for Three (1927)
Adam and Evil (1927)
The Demi-Bride (1927)
A Little Journey (1927)
The Waning Sex (1926)
Mademoiselle Modiste (1926)
Dance Madness (1926)
Bright Lights (1925)
Time, the Comedian (1925)
Cheaper to Marry (1925)
Love's Wilderness (1924)
Circe, the Enchantress (1924)
Mademoiselle Midnight (1924)
Fashion Row (1923)
The French Doll (1923)
Jazzmania (1923)
Broadway Rose (1922)
Fascination (1922)
Peacock Alley (1922)
Heedless Moths (1921)
The Gilded Lily (1921)
The Restless Sex (1920)
April Folly (1920)
Stronger Than Death (1920)
The Miracle of Love (1919)
The Way of a Woman (1919)
What Am I Bid? (1919)
The Scarlet Shadow (1919)
The Delicious Little Devil (1919)
Big Little Person (1919)
Danger, Go Slow (1918)
Modern Love (1918) (as Robert Leonard)
Her Body in Bond (1918)
The Bride's Awakening (1918)
Face Value (1917)
Princess Virtue (1917)
The Punishment (1917)
At First Sight (1917)
The Primrose Ring (1917)
The Forest Nymph (1917)
A Mormon Maid (1917)
Please Be My Wife (1917) (as Robert Leonard)
Racing Death (1917)
The Human Flame (1917)
On Record (1917)
The Sin Unatoned (1917)
Robinson Crusoe (1917)
Life's Pendulum (1917)
The Diamond Thieves (1917)
The Eagle's Wings (1916)
The Plow Girl (1916)
The Evidence (1916)
The Unfinished Case (1916)
Little Eve Edgarton (1916) (as Robert Leonard)
The Love Girl (1916)
The Silent Man of Timber Gulch (1916)
The Woman Who Followed Me (1916)
The Crippled Hand (1916) (as Robert Leonard)
The Winning of Miss Construe (1916)
Yust from Sweden (1916)
Secret Love (1916) (as Robert Leonard)
The Silent Member (1916)
The Boob's Victory (1916)
Christmas Memories (1915)
Idols of Clay (1915)
Judge Not; or The Woman of Mona Diggings (1915) (as Robert Leonard)
Both Sides of Life (1915)
The Little Blonde in Black (1915)
Heritage (1915) (as Robert Leonard)
Betty's Dream Hero (1915)
A Boob's Romance (1915)
The Silent Command (1915) (as Robert Leonard)
Shattered Memories (1915)
Mavis of the Glen (1915)
The Master Key (1914)
The Boob's Legacy (1914)
The Mistress of Deadwood Basin (1914)
The Boob's Nemesis (1914)
For the Secret Service (1914)
The Bowl of Roses (1914)
When Fate Disposes (1914)
The House Discordant (1914)
The Sherlock Boob (1914)
A Law Unto Himself (1914)
Swede Larson (1914)
Shadowed Lives (1914)
A Boob There Was (1914)
A Man, a Girl and Another Man (1914)
Mountain Law (1914)
A Boob Incognito (1914)
The Ruby Circle (1914)
In the Eye of the Law (1914)
The Senator's Bill (1914)
For the Family Honor (1914)
The Boob's Honeymoon (1914)
A Race with Death (1914)
The Fourth Proposal (1914)
From Father to Son (1914)
The Mud Bath Elopement (1914)
Michael Arnold and Doctor Lynn (1914)
The Diamond Makers (1913)
Sally Scraggs: Housemaid (1913)
When the Prince Arrived (1913)
A Woman's Folly (1913)