|Birth Day:||February 23, 1899|
|Death Date:||Apr 17, 1981 (age 82)|
As per our current Database, Norman Taurog died on Apr 17, 1981 (age 82).
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He was a child actor and made his movie debut when he was 13 years old in the film Tangled Relations.
In 1919, Taurog returned to the film industry as a director, collaborating with Larry Semon in The Sportsman (1920). In the coming decade, he made 42 silent films, mostly shorts. During this time, he developed his style, his forte being light comedy although he could also deal with drama and maintain complex narratives. In early 1928, he directed his first feature length film, The Ghetto starring George Jessel, which was expanded in late 1928 with musical and dialogue portions directed by Charles C. Wilson for eventual release as Lucky Boy (1929).
From 1920 to 1968, Taurog directed 180 films. The following is a partial list of his feature films.
In 1931, he made his breakthrough, directing Skippy, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Director. Recently, Taurog's award statue sold for $301,973 at auction in Beverly Hills. Taurog's nephew Jackie Cooper was also nominated for his performance; in his 1981 autobiography Please Don't Shoot My Dog, Cooper wrote that, during filming, Taurog pretended to shoot his dog to make the child actor cry for one scene. (While this book was being written, attempts were made by Cooper's editor to get Taurog's version of events; Taurog declined to participate.) Skippy tells of the adventures of the eponymous hero, his antics and adventures with his friend Sooky as they try to come up with a license for Sooky's dog, save his shantytown from demolition, sell lemonade and save for a new bike. Based on a popular comic strip character, its sentiment, comedy and moral didacticism (common with movies of the time), added to a gritty realism made it a huge success, so much so that the studio immediately scheduled a sequel, Sooky, for the following year.
The next few years saw Taurog enter the third chapter of his career, as an established director who could work in a number of genres. He directed a series of well-received films, including If I Had a Million (1932), which showed his ability to work with an all-star cast—Gary Cooper, George Raft, Charles Laughton, and W. C. Fields. In 1934, he directed We're Not Dressing, starring Bing Crosby, Carole Lombard, George Burns, Gracie Allen, and Ray Milland. In 1935, he directed the star-studded musical showcase The Big Broadcast of 1936 starring Bing Crosby and George Burns and Gracie Allen.
In 1938, Taurog brought all his skill and experience to bear with one of the liveliest and most successful adaptations of classic literature; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was an artistic and commercial triumph. The year also brought Boys Town, showing Taurog to be more than capable of sustaining a dramatic narrative and earning him another Academy Award nomination. It wasn't all success, though. Lucky Night (1939) starring Myrna Loy and Robert Taylor was a turkey, and while Taurog shot test scenes for 1939's cinematic extravaganza The Wizard of Oz, Victor Fleming was chosen to direct. Taurog was reassigned to work on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, a change which he had little to no say in. However, Taurog went on to earn a Best Director nomination for Boys Town later that year, despite losing out on directing Oz. He did, however, helm the last of MGM's big pre-war musical showcases, 1940's Broadway Melody, starring Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell. He expanded his range into biographies, working with Mickey Rooney again, in the well-received Young Tom Edison (1940). He directed Judy Garland three times in the early 1940s, in Little Nellie Kelly (1940), the 'small-town-girl-gets-big-break' Presenting Lily Mars (1943), and the Gershwin musical Girl Crazy (1943).
After directing re-takes for a wartime propaganda film, Rationing (1944), Taurog entered new territory with a docudrama of the atom bomb, The Beginning or the End (1947). It was back to his metier of light comedy for his next couple of outings, The Bride Goes Wild with Van Johnson and June Allyson, and Big City, both in 1948. Remarkably, he also directed a third film that year combining the genres of comedy, drama and biography and dealing with an all-star cast; Words and Music was a fictionalized biopic of the relationship between Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. It starred, among others, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Mickey Rooney and Cyd Charisse. By now, Taurog had established a reputation as a director who was comfortable working in the musical and comedy genre, and who could be relied upon to work with slight material—qualities which would be useful later in his career.
In 1960, Taurog directed his first Elvis Presley film, G.I. Blues. This was a turning point for Elvis. Up until then, he had harbored ambitions of being a James Dean figure, playing brooding rebel roles in Love Me Tender (1956), Jailhouse Rock (1957), and King Creole (1958). However, Colonel Tom Parker had different plans for the singer. G.I. Blues was Elvis's first film in two years, following his return from the army, and would set the tone for future films—a few girls, a few adventures, and a few songs along the way with weak plots and uninspired acting. When well-made, this was an entertaining, light-hearted formula and Taurog, now in his sixties, was an old hand at it. So impressed was Parker with his work that over the next eight years, Taurog directed Elvis in eight more films: Blue Hawaii (1961), Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962), It Happened at the World's Fair (1963), Tickle Me (1965), Spinout (1966), Double Trouble (1967), Speedway (1968), and Live a Little, Love a Little (1968). Although some were better than others—and some were almost identical—Taurog ensured that the films had pace, the comedy was delivered well, and the songs were well executed. Live a Little, Love a Little was his last film.
Taurog supported Barry Goldwater in the 1964 United States presidential election.
In 1968, Taurog retired from directing. He later taught at the University of Southern California School of Cinema and remained a board member of the Director's Guild. He owned a camera shop in Canoga Park.
Taurog died on April 7, 1981 in Palm Desert, California, at the age of 82. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean.
Currently, Norman Taurog is 124 years, 1 months and 7 days old. Norman Taurog will celebrate 125th birthday on a Friday 23rd of February 2024.
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