Rouben Mamoulian

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b. 8 October 1898, Tbilisi, Georgia, Russia, d. 4 December 1987, Los Angeles, California, USA. A distinguished stage and film director whose name is particularly associated with two masterpieces of the…
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b. 8 October 1898, Tbilisi, Georgia, Russia, d. 4 December 1987, Los Angeles, California, USA. A distinguished stage and film director whose name is particularly associated with two masterpieces of the American musical theatre - Porgy And Bess and Oklahoma! - and a legendary Hollywood movie, Love Me Tonight. Mamoulian spent part of his childhood in Paris before studying at Moscow University, and running his own drama school in Tbilisi. In 1920 he toured Britain with a Russian theatre group and subsequently studied drama at London University. He moved to the USA in 1923 and operettas at the George Eastman Theatre in Rochester, New Jersey, before going to New York where he became a leading light with the prestigious Theatre Guild. His reputation as a theatre director led him to Hollywood at the beginning of the talkie era, and he immediately impressed with his innovative and audacious approach to the medium, although his first film, Applause (1929) starring Helen Morgan, was made in New York. This was followed by a series of highly acclaimed pictures - sophisticated comedies, dramas, gangster movies - featuring the biggest stars of the day, including Fredric March, Marlene Dietrich, Tyrone Power, and Greta Garbo. Among them were several musicals, such as the charmingLove Me Tonight (1932) with Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier (which Mamoulian also produced), The Gay Desperado (1936), High, Wide And Handsome (1937), Summer Holiday (1947), and the elegant Silk Stockings (1957) starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. His relatively small cinema output is said to be due to persistent disagreements and confrontations with producers. He was hired and quickly fired from movies such as Laura, Porgy And Bess, and the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton epic Cleopatra (1963). In parallel with his Hollywood career, Mamoulian directed major works on Broadway, including Porgy And Bess (1935), Oklahoma! (1943), Sadie Thompson (1944), Carousel (1945), St. Louis Woman (1946), Lost In The Stars (1949), and Arms And The Girl (1950). On the latter show, and on Sadie Thompson, he also served as co-librettist, and in later years wrote and adapted several plays and children’s stories.